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.

Water, water and more water!

The Burgundy Canal is really greedy! The people who built it devised an ingenious system to keep the canal supplied with water:

Aqueducts, valves, weirs

Channels, reservoirs

They all worked interactively and regulated the hydraulic operation of the canal.

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.

In 1846, at the port of Vandenesse

Léa meets Paul, a guard at the port

“Yes, that’s right, Miss, I’ve just moved into my new house! Apparently it looks like the lock-keepers’ houses built at the beginning of the century by Foucherot, the engineer. Whatever the truth of that, I keep my eye on everything! I supervise the smooth running of the canal and the state of the channel. The water from Panthier reservoir has to be able to flow in in the correct manner and the overflow has to go into the Vandenesse. Because a dry canal is no good and a flooding canal is no good either! What would the men do with their sugar beets then? Look, the scales are just there. They weigh the beets, load the barges and take them up to the sugar refinery at Brazey-en-Plaine. They don’t have time to hang about! The port is too small to store a lot of goods. Yes, a guard has to keep his eye on everything! But I still have time to admire Chateauneuf! Have you seen the countryside round here, young lady?”

Commarin Castle

This castle, situated on the water, surrounded by moats and built on stilts, is still inhabited and has belonged to the same family for 900 years. In the seventeenth century, it was occupied by Marie-Judith de Vienne, the grandmother of Talleyrand and thanks to the villagers it escaped the pillaging of the Revolution. Now, with its furnishings and decor intact, the old residence gives free rein to the imagination and brings alive the History of several centuries.

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 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.


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!