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 stirs everything up

The construction of this waterway greatly altered the appearance of our towns and villages. What a lot of activity there was! Bargemen, lock-keepers, artisans, tradesmen, farmers and workmen all brought the canal to life.

The nineteenth century rocked by the industrial boom

With the water of the canal, it was full steam ahead!

Hydraulic power and the transport of goods

Establishment of factories, cement works, forges, warehouses

Workers arrive in great numbers

There is much activity on the quaysides of the ports, at Saint-Jean-de-Losne, Pouilly-en Auxois, Montbard. People are loading and unloading wood, oil, laminated iron, cement, lime, Burgundy stone, wine, sugar beet, cereals.

It’s hard now to imagine all the bustle!

When the major roads and railways arrived, the thriving industrial activity disappeared but commercial exchanges developed such as the cheese business with cheeses such as Soumaintrain, Saint-Florentin and Chaource.


In 2011, the association to defend and promote Soumaintrain cheese was created. In 2016, the cheese was awarded the European Union certificate of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

Chaource has had the benefit of an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) since 1970. In 1996, it was recognised at European level as an Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP).

In the nineteenth century, by the canal
Léa meets Monsieur Albert, a cheese merchant

Good morning, young lady, excuse me, I’m in a great hurry! I’ve just started my round of the local farms. Yes, I am a cheese merchant. Which cheeses? Well, Soumaintrain and Saint-Florentin, of course! I go from farm to farm collecting them, then I go and sell them on the markets, in Troyes but also in Paris and Lyon! You know, there have been cheeses since the Middle Ages, the monks used to make them and farmers used them to pay their tithes!
There’s no shortage of cheese here in the Yonne! Yet we still can’t produce enough to satisfy the demand. They’re much sought after in all the big cities – Paris, Dijon, Lille! But now I’m late… I bid you good day, young lady!

The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Germigny

Built in the sixteenth century, it has a surprisingly high clocktower and gargoyles on its buttresses. Inside, the nave has a vaulted wood ceiling. You can also see a little door, on the right, which was the original entrance door to the church. Studded with nails, it has a remarkably large lock. Stained glass and statues of the Trojan School complete your visit to this classified monument.

The Saint-Symphorien Church at Neuvy-Sautour.

This church dates from the sixteenth century and its north portal with sculpted salamanders recalls the emblem of Francis I but its most beautiful ornament is inside: an old, coloured cemetery cross called ‘the Beautiful Cross’. Erected in 1514, and eight metres high, it is decorated with symbolic sculptures illustrating the Passion of Christ. After blowing down in a storm, it lay abandoned, before being restored in 1905.

The Saint-Mammès Church in Turny

With its high tower decorated with gargoyles, this church can be seen from the countryside all around. Built in flamboyant ogival style from 1518, it has a large, decorated portal and three naves of the same height. In this hall-church, the statues are classified and you can admire a monumental altarpiece, but there is one enigmatic sculpture that poses a puzzle for the visitor: facing the high altar, on the pillar on the left…what is the symbolic meaning of that man-ammonite, asleep in his shell?


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!