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 defies gravity

The lock enables the canal to climb slopes and allows boats to move from one basin to another.

This group of constructions includes water crossings, sheds, and lock-keepers’ houses.

The lock-keeper’s house is the most imposing building

The canal has guardhouses and tax offices, originally used to provide security and the smooth running of the canal, but the best known buildings are the lock-keepers’ houses where the lock-keepers lived.

At least 5 types of houses can be identified, named after the engineers who designed them. The first wave of construction occurred at the end of the eighteenth century.

the Forey type are located between Dijon and Saint-Jean-de-Losne

the Montfeu type are located between Migennes and Saint-Florentin

The second wave of construction, from 1811, introduced a new model, the Foucherot type, widely used on the banks of the Saône.

The Foucherot houses were very popular because they were economical, easy to build and to enlarge, but the Montfeu houses were both utilitarian and decorative.

In 1840 at lock 27

Léa meets Louisette, a lock-keeper

A very good day to you, young lady! Yes, that’s right, I let the boats through! While I turn the handle, my husband works in the fields or does jobs on the house. I really like this house. The front door and the woodwork is made of oak – that’s really solid stuff. And the pine wood floors are easy to wash. The mayor says that the plans were drawn by the engineer Foucherot… Look, we have big windows on the ground floor, a lovely cellar and an upstairs too! You see that little half-moon window right at the top, well, that’s the room where my elder daughter sleeps. Oh, that was the hooter, a boat’s coming! Do you understand how it works? We open the upstream gates, the boat enters the sluice, we close the gates, the water comes in; then, when the water in the sluice is the same level as the water in the canal, we open the downstream gates and the boat can go through. Right, now you have a go. You are the apprentice lock-keeper, aren’t you?

The Pont-et-Massène reservoir

Built in 1882 to supply the Burgundy Canal, it helps avoid flooding. Nowadays, its water is highly filtered to provide drinking water to supply around 80 villages. The lake has been made into a leisure centre where visitors can enjoy a wealth of beautiful views, a beach, boats for hire and a 12 km walking trail.

The Castle of Sainte-Colombe-en-Auxois / ARCADE

Since 1986, ARCADE has taken over the seventeenth/eighteenth-century castle. In addition to restoring the buildings, it has set up a cultural hub dedicated to contemporary creation in art and design. The annual themed programming covers the creation and mounting of exhibitions, educational workshops, and training, and also hosts creators in residence. The Castle of Sainte-Colombe is a unique place where experimentation in contemporary creation and social innovation can be expressed under the slogan ‘Design à la campagne®’ (Design in the Country).


This little medieval village, perched on a hill, is one of the loveliest villages in France. Built around an eighth-century Benedictine abbey, it is made up of beautiful stone houses, protected by ramparts and three fortified gateways. In addition to its outstanding heritage, it is famous for its little aniseed-flavoured sweets, which are exported all over the world.


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!