On all the boards
Welcome to the Burgundy Canal!

My name is Léa and I am a seasonal lock-keeper!
Take a look at my logbook and come along with me for a canal adventure the whole of its 242-kilometre length. It’s a real masterpiece of civil engineering as well as one of the loveliest ways to get from the Channel to the Mediterranean!
Meet me at every noticeboard by the canal. Have a great time exploring!

The canal landscape: before and after

From the plain of Migennes to the Saône plain, through the Ouche valley to the Armançon valley, the canal traces its path through a country landscape, with many castles and churches.

Water, water and more water!

The Burgundy Canal is really greedy! The people who built it devised an ingenious system to keep the canal supplied with water:

Aqueducts, valves, weirs

Channels, reservoirs

They all worked interactively and regulated the hydraulic operation of the canal.

It all started with the ports

Human activity began to boom when the canal arrived. Quarries, cement works, lime kilns and forges were linked to the canal and it became essential to build ports. They were located near industrial sites. The largest ones, such as Escommes, were built next to railways and became real ‘multimodal platforms’.

Boats were repaired there and the bargemen stocked up on their supplies

Goods were transferred there and raw materials were processed

Thanks to the ports, the canal became a major commercial route both regionally and nationally.

Today the canal has 43 ports, which now welcomes both local residents and people enjoying a holiday on the canal. 

In 1935, at the Port of Escommes.

Léa meets Auguste, the bargeman

“And a good morning to you, young lady! Yes, that’s right, I’m waiting my turn to go into the tunnel. From here I can see the engineers’ building, it used to be the cement factory. When the engineer called Lacordaire dug into the subsoil, he found a seam of limestone that provided him with cement for the works. Wasn’t that lucky? Going through this tunnel used to be quite an adventure! My father used to push the boat with wooden poles. He would put them in slots cut out in the ground and pull with all the strength in his arms! He did that all day long, poor man! Fortunately we now have the chain boat. It’s a sort of winch boat worked by the power stations at Escommes and Pouilly. And you need water to work the turbines. But there’s no shortage of that here! The port is supplied by 3 reservoirs and several channels. The Chazilly one is more than 7 km long.

Ah! It’s time to weigh anchor! Goodbye, young lady!”

Commarin Castle

This castle, situated on the water, surrounded by moats and built on stilts, is still inhabited and has belonged to the same family for 900 years. In the seventeenth century, it was occupied by Marie-Judith de Vienne, the grandmother of Talleyrand and thanks to the villagers it escaped the pillaging of the Revolution. Now, with its furnishings and decor intact, the old residence gives free rein to the imagination and brings alive the History of several centuries.

Panthier reservoir

Extending over 130 hectares, this is the largest lake in the Côte-d’Or and the biggest reservoir on the canal. From its banks you can admire the valleys of the Auxois and the village of Châteauneuf. You can also enjoy the activities of the water sports centre, with something to suit everyone: a 4.5 km walk around the lake, swimming, fishing or sailing.

The village of Châteauneuf

Perched at an altitude of 500 metres, this is one of the loveliest villages in France, with an exceptional medieval heritage. In the shadow of a powerful thirteenth-century fortress, it has beautiful houses with towers, coats-of-arms and sculptures, all bearing witness to past prosperity, due to the traders, artisans and the influence of Philippe Pot, a relative of the Dukes of Burgundy, who lived in the castle in 1460.


1724 A canal project is agreed after much deliberation concerning the route

1775 Work begins on both banks

1826-1832 Pouilly tunnel is dug out

1833 The whole canal is opened to traffic

1872-1882 Standardised to Freycinet gauge (lengthening of the lock chambers)

Nineteenth century The industrial boom

Twentieth century Gradual transition from industry and commerce to tourism and leisure

2010 Creation of the cycle path

Nowadays you can travel on the water for pleasure or enjoy cycling along the cycle path that follows the old towpath. It’s an ideal opportunity to discover the wealth of our heritage as you explore!