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.

From aqueducts to locks

All the remarkable works on the canal came about as answers to problems!

How can we supply the canal with water?

With an original system of elements that interact with each other:

Aqueducts, valves, weir, channels, reservoirs

How do we cope with the changes in level?

By use of 189 locks and passages through cuttings, like the ones at Creuzot (reach 13Y) and Buffon (reach 69Y)

(Little bullet point marker, different from the arrows) How do we cross the line at the summit section (altitude 378 metres) of the Seine and Rhône basins at Pouilly-en Auxois?

(arrow) With great technical skill: the impressive 3.3 km tunnel that takes the summit section through the mountain.

There are so many works of art and lock-keepers’ houses studded about the landscape, even though most of the bridges and locks were rebuilt at the end of the nineteenth century in order to meet a new standard requirement: the Freycinet gauge.

In 1827, at Pouilly

Léa meets Gustave, a workman working on the tunnel

“Oh, my poor child, this work is real forced labour! Between 1826 and 1832 there are going to be 4000 men tunnelling through the mountain and building the vaulting! But I’ve seen other works like this…I’m from Blanzy! Just like in the mines, we’ve had to sink some shafts, 32 altogether. We use them to take the earth away and bring down the cement. We’re going to keep 18 open for ventilation. These wonderful engineers really have thought of everything! Well, nearly everything. We don’t know how the barges are going to be pulled, seeing as there’s no towpath yet. But that’s enough talking! I mustn’t keep you, young lady, or I’ll get into trouble. Now he has prisoners working in his team, the foreman is not always very nice!”

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!