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!

It all started with the ports

Since the end of commercial navigation in 1980, the 43 ports on the canal have been devoted to water tourism and leisure activities. Yet some of them still bear traces of the activities of the nineteenth century:

The quays where merchandise was loaded and unloaded.

The dry docks used to repair boats.

The guardhouses and tax offices where the administrative agents of the canal also lived.

Beware of the tax officers!

The State had the right to exact toll payments on merchandise transported by water, and from 1835, seven tax offices were built in the most important ports. The administrative agents both lodged and worked there. They calculated and collected the taxes, according to the number of kilometres travelled, the weight, and type of merchandise transported.

Guards were employed to check the loads and the order of passage. Sometimes they lived in the same buildings.

The four tax offices located in Côte-d’Or (Dijon, Pont-de-Pany, Montbard and Pont-Royal) are built on the same model.


In 1994, the tax office was illuminated by the visual artist, Michel Verjux. The work is called ‘Eleven columns of light for a night horizon’ and was commissioned by the local residents and the local authority as part of the refurbishment of the port.

In 1894, at the port of Pont-Royal

Léa meets Joseph, a tax collector

Just a minute, young lady… Let me finish my adding up. You mentioned Maison-Blanche? That’s the old name of Pont-Royal! They’ve just changed it, I can’t get used to it, but rules are rules. Since last April, the whole port has been strictly regulated. Look, the right side of the port is reserved for coal for the factory, and the left is where they put local merchandise. But it’s not allowed to stay there more than 10 days. And the bargemen have to alert Auguste, the port guard. He gives permission and also checks that empty boats don’t stay alongside the warehouses, and above all that they don’t engage in any retail selling in the warehouses.

Oh, he’s a very busy man, is Auguste! And so am I with all the calculations of the tax allowances to do. But we stay in the same house, him upstairs and me on the ground floor and that’s really convenient for having a drink when all the work is finished!

The Auxois Park

At Arnay-sous-Vitteaux, stretching over an area of 40 hectares, this wildlife and leisure park offers the visitor the chance to see over 500 creatures at close quarters as well as a fun park with rides, attractions and a swimming pool. What would the children prefer: watching the bears have their tea or speeding down the water chute? Well, both, of course!

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).

The Priory of Saint-Thibault

The Priory has the surprising look of a Gothic cathedral set down in the countryside. It was built to honour the remains of Saint Thibault, and became an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Its choir is unique in Burgundy, and dates from the end of the thirteenth century. All in white stone and full of light, the 27-metre high building delights the faithful and tourists alike. The sculptures on the north door, the chapel of Saint-Gilles and the shrine of Saint-Thibault are equally remarkable.

The Neolithic camp of Myard

Six thousand years ago, people began to farm the land and breed animals. To protect themselves, they fortified strategic plateaux, closing off access to them by building a wall of stone. The Neolithic camp of Myard is one of these ‘promontory forts’. After being abandoned, it was occupied once more and fortified in the Bronze Age (3000 years before Jesus Christ). A marked trail, with explanatory notice boards, will help you find out more.


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!