Pouilly en Auxois port traduction

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 stirs everything up

The construction of this waterway greatly altered the appearance of our towns and villages. What a lot of activity there was! Bargemen, lock-keepers, artisans, tradesmen, farmers and workmen all brought the canal to life.

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 at Pouilly port…

Léa meets the electric chain boat

“Oh, thank you so much for taking an interest in me! Unfortunately I am only an old tractor-boat! But right up to 1987, I was still pulling barges weighing several tonnes through Pouilly tunnel, in order to avoid damage underground! It was incredibly hard work, believe me! All my strength came from the power station on the left bank of the basin. Another power station at Escommes helped me on the way back and I was pulled along by the chain lying on the bottom of the tunnel. Now the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has designed an artwork to put me in! It’s a big hall, completely transparent, where I can imagine the reflection of the facilities of the old days: the sheds, the ramp down to the water, the dry dock, the cement works and the tile factory on the right bank. You can still see where the workers used to live over there!

Of course, the port built by the engineer Lacordaire has changed a huge amount since 1830. But the lovely rectangular basin that takes water from the Grosbois and Cercey reservoirs is still here!

The chain boat

Cercey reservoir

Of the six reservoirs built to supply the canal, the Cercey reservoir is without any doubt the closest to nature. Finished in 1836, it has become a natural haven where you can watch the birds, especially the coots and ducks that come here for the winter. An information trail winds all around the lake so you can find out everything about how the canal was supplied with water.

The chain boat Hall and the Billebaude

The electric chain boat from 1893 which used to pull the boats under the arches of Pouilly-en-Auxois is now at rest. It is housed on the port in a work of art: the translucent hall in cardboard tubes by the Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban.

To experience the atmosphere of the tunnel crossing and understand the life of the bargemen, you just need to come on board the ‘Billebaude’, a cruise boat whose name recalls the famous novel of Henri Vincenot.

The village of Mont-Saint-Jean

This is one of the most beautiful villages in France, looking down from its limestone promontory, with its sturdy thirteenth-century keep, a former hospital for pilgrims, and a church with twisted columns. Its medieval heritage, religious, civil and military, never fails to impress visitors.

Panthier reservoir

Extending over 130 hectares, this is the largest lake in the Côte-d’Or and the biggest reservoir on the canal. From its banks you can admire the valleys of the Auxois and the village of Châteauneuf. You can also enjoy the activities of the water sports centre, with something to suit everyone: a 4.5 km walk around the lake, swimming, fishing or sailing.

The old tool house of Civry-en-Montagne

Come and visit the past to discover the everyday objects and old farming equipment of the countryside. To get you into the atmosphere, a classroom and cafe have been reconstructed. And if you would like to taste some bread baked in a wood-fired oven, just ask!


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!