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 is greedy

This is a canal with a summit section linking 2 catchment basins: the Yonne with an elevation of 300 metres and the Saône at 200.

Its water consumption is used to maintain the levels of the canal reaches and to fill its 189 locks. The ingenious builders designed an original system to provide hydraulic power for the canal and to supply it with water:

Aqueducts, valves, weirs

Channels, reservoirs

All these work together to regulate the hydraulic operation of the canal.

6 reservoirs for one canal

To keep the canal supplied with water, 6 reservoirs were built: Cercey, Panthier, Grosbois, Chazilly, Le Tillot and Pont-et-Massène. They are usually located around the summit section except at Pont-et-Massène which is more downstream on the Yonne side. These sections of water are fed by streams or rivers, or by the channels called ‘fillers’.

Other channels, called ‘feeders’, direct the water to the canal and its basins. The water reaches the canal by simple force of gravity alone. The 4km channel from Cercey reservoir that feeds into the canal at the port of Pouilly works in this way. The Pont-et-Massène reservoir provides drinking water for the surrounding communities.

In 1976, at the country park of Lac de Pont-et-Massène

Léa meets Nicolas, an amateur painter

It’s a real pleasure to be on holiday here, young lady! I’ve come here with the family for the whole summer; we have two cottages along the lake among the other little houses. My brother loves fishing and his children like the beach and the diving board. They also like going round the lake and exploring the bridge at Moulin de la Ronce; when the water level is low, you can imagine what life was like in the old days! Me, I prefer the park. I like to lose myself there, looking for the best viewpoint. It looks like an English park, with its garden follies, waterfalls and walkways. It was all built at the same time as the reservoir, around 1880. Of course, the tourist facilities came later. Yes, it’s a place of great inspiration for an artist! Although not as much as the Fête du Lac! That is taking place tonight…with a superb parade of boats lit up with lanterns and, of course, fireworks. You can be my guest, young lady!

Medieval town at Semur-en-Auxois

You just need to walk through the gates to fall under the charm of this little town! With cobbled alleyways, half-timbered houses, the Gothic collegiate church, the Museum, the keep, the ramparts and private houses from the eighteenth century, the town has a wealth of treasures to attract the visitor. There are walks from the Tourist Office, medieval entertainment and various routes you can follow, so everyone can choose the way they like to explore best.

The Sainte-Apolline Chapel in Brianny

Very small and simple, this chapel houses a remarkable ‘danse macabre’ dated 1510. This painting covers all the walls and shows 32 characters, 16 men and 16 women ‘dancing’ with their own skeleton which is dragging them towards death.

That is our common destiny, whatever our social status, so the characters represent all classes in society, with men ranging from the Pope to a farmer and women from a duchess to a madwoman.

Bourbilly Castle

Like Epoisses Castle, Bourbilly has been inhabited continuously since it was built in the fourteenth century. Three different women have made their mark on it over the centuries: Anne de Beaujeu who had it built, Sainte Jeanne de Chantal who lived there after her marriage and the Marchioness of Sévigné who spent her childhood there. When it was restored in the nineteenth century, it became imbued with Romanticism. How can anyone resist the ambience of the great drawing room lit by nine Venetian crystal chandeliers?

The park and garden of Lantilly Castle

The castle is surrounded by an English-style park, full of remarkable trees. You can enjoy the exceptional view of Alésia or lose yourself in the magnificent garden designed like a piece of music, where the harmony of the colours gives rhythm to the space. The vegetable garden received the ‘Outstanding vegetable garden’ award in 2004.


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!