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!

When a canal crosses a river…

All the remarkable works on the canal came about as the answer to a problem. You have to supply the canal with water, get it to climb big changes in altitude, and also help it to cross rivers. Four canal bridges were built to do just that: Saint-Florentin, Montbard, Brienon-sur-Armançon and Pont-d’Ouche.

The latter is at a strategic point where the canal, passing over the River Ouche, leaves the valley to continue to Pouilly-en-Auxois and the summit section.

Everything started with the ports

With the canal, human activity began to boom. Quarries, cement works, lime kilns and forges were linked to the canal and it became essential to build ports. These were located near industrial sites. The most important were 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, dedicated to tourism on the canal.

Today the water station for the coal mines is no longer linked to the canal and has become a pool providing a home for ducks. However, Epinac railway still uses a steam locomotive. It has become a tourist train on a 7-km track between Bligny-sur-Ouche and Pont-d’Ouche.
The landscape has changed a lot; now you can admire the elegant curved viaduct carrying the A6 motorway across the valley.

In 1861, at the port of Pont-d’Ouche

Léa meets Gaston, a train driver

“You must excuse me, young lady, I’m not very presentable! I’ve come straight from the mines at Epinac. There’s not much I don’t know about coal! We transport tonnes of it and I also shovel it into the mouth of the engine! The train comes into the water station at the colliery and the lads empty the wagons and load it all onto the barges. The loading basin is directly linked to the canal. There’s never an idle moment at Pont-d’Ouche! Just look around, sheds everywhere, a brick factory, a steam machine, two tanks of tar, there’s work for everybody! Well, young lady, I’ll say goodbye, it’s really hot here, I’m off for a drink!”

The Papotte Museum at Bligny-sur-Ouche

To see the country life of the old days, you only have to venture inside the Papotte Museum! In a former cabinetmaker’s workshop you will find a fine exhibition of objects, tools and utensils to help you imagine what life was like for the craftsmen of yesteryear. A little farm and a classroom have been reconstructed to help you plunge back into the past.

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.

The railway from the Ouche Valley to Bligny-sur-Ouche

On the old Epinac-Dijon line of 1830, a steam locomotive is back in service to take you from Bligny-sur-Ouche to Pont-d’Ouche. In the past the line was just for transporting coal, but now this hour and a half return trip is devoted to admiring the scenery.

The old school at Chaudenay-le-château

The school, dominated by its bell, was built in 1865 and closed in 1946. It has been left exactly as it was ever since. You will find tables with 9 seats for the older children, desks with integrated slates for the little ones, wall charts, the teacher’s desk on its raised platform and above all the smell of ink and of the wood-burning stove!


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!