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!

A strong character!

The Burgundy Canal may look serene and peaceful but don’t be fooled! Beneath its apparent tranquillity it hides a strong, tenacious character!

For it to see the light of day, it took time, money, countless feats of technical wizardry and the tireless work of many men.

Since its engineer, Joseph Abeille, drew up the route in 1725, it took:

50 years to pay for it – from 1725 to 1775

58 years to build it – from 1775 to 1833

To solve the problems of supply, water divide and regulating the flow they needed to:

Build a 3.3 km tunnel at Pouilly-en-Auxois

Construct 6 reservoirs and a huge number of other works to manage the supply

To get it to make the 378-metre climb it required:

Locks and more locks – 189 altogether!

Then they added 30 ports and 224 houses.

So much construction for the transportation of goods, for commerce and industry!

Now, the activity of the past is long gone, displaced by the railway and motorway, and the canal has become a place for leisure with a cycle path along the old towpath and a whole range of leisure activities on offer along its banks, especially fishing, and opportunities for gourmet breaks; you can also go swimming in certain stretches of the water.

In 1811

Léa meets the sphinxes of Migennes

“Don’t be afraid! We are only paper lions! According to the plans of Mr Foucherot and Mr Sutil, we were meant to protect two superb obelisks to mark the end of the canal! But…the project sank without trace!

You soon forget this disappointment when you see Migennes emerging from the plain! What with the canal and the railway, it boasts all the prestige that we missed out on! It is the only town that came into being because of the canal and it became an important railway hub.

A sphinx riddle: what is the favourite station of steam locomotives? Laroche-Migennes, of course!

Yes, the railway and the waterway were rivals, but it was the canal that played a major role in the development of the town: on its left bank were the technical facilities and on the right bank, the houses, church and town hall. Now it’s time to let you continue on your way. We’ll go back to sleep in the archives!”

The Sphinxes

The Church of Christ the King in Migennes

Opened in 1935, the ‘Lourdes’ of railway workers is built in reinforced concrete, a revolutionary material at the time and a first for France. Its 60-metre high spire and its monumental statue of Christ the King are a must for all visitors to see. This building embodies the fight against the prevailing secularity. By means of subscriptions and donations which the priest P.J. Magne – founder of the church and PLM shareholder – made obligatory, all the railway workers of Laroche helped build it. The founder is commemorated in a stained- glass window where he is holding a model of ‘his church’.

The church may be visited during the times of services.

Préblin Mill Park 

Préblin Mill Park extends over almost 9 hectares alongside the Burgundy Canal.

Here you leave civilisation and enter a wilder environment with the banks of the pond, the wood, and the meadow.

A waymarked botanic walk lets you discover damp-loving plants, undergrowth and gardens, fruit trees and a meadow with decorative barks. Free entry

The Saint-Pancrace Church in Migennes

Its choir dates from the thirteenth century but its main feature is the defensive structure constructed in the sixteenth century. With a porch flanked by two towers pierced by arrow-slits and the traces of a drawbridge, the church in ‘old’ Migennes is a fully fortified church! The wall paintings, dating from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, represent a Charity of Saint Martin, the Legend of the Three Dead and Three Living.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the historic town hall of Vieux-Migennes and its classrooms were abandoned in favour of a brand-new town hall flanked by two schools. Now restored, the former town hall houses the Maison de la Mémoire which presents the history of the locality.

To visit the buildings: contact the Tourist Office

The Gallo-Roman Mosaic at Migennes

Above the Cabaret l’Escale, the Tourist Office presents in situ a restored fragment of the fourth century polychrome and geometric Gallo-Roman Mosaic, discovered in Migennes in 1976 and extracted from the paving of a room measuring approximately 210 m2. This fragment is a late, and therefore exceptional, work, and came from one of the largest Gallo-Roman mosaics in North Gaul. Video and fragments on show.

Can be visited freely or with a guide (must be booked)


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!