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!

A strong character!

The Burgundy Canal may look serene and peaceful but don’t be fooled! Beneath its apparent tranquillity it hides a strong, tenacious character!

For it to see the light of day, it took time, money, countless feats of technical wizardry and the tireless work of many men.

Since its engineer, Joseph Abeille, drew up the route in 1725, it took:

50 years to pay for it – from 1725 to 1775

58 years to build it – from 1775 to 1833

To solve the problems of supply, water divide and regulating the flow they needed to:

Build a 3.3 km tunnel at Pouilly-en-Auxois

Construct 6 reservoirs and a huge number of other works to manage the supply

To get it to make the 378-metre climb it required:

Locks and more locks – 189 altogether!

Then they added 30 ports and 224 houses.

So much construction for the transportation of goods, for commerce and industry!

Now, the activity of the past is long gone, displaced by the railway and motorway, and the canal has become a place for leisure with a cycle path along the old towpath and a whole range of leisure activities on offer along its banks, especially fishing, and opportunities for gourmet breaks; you can also go swimming in certain stretches of the water.


The station has been turned into a residential development. Passenger traffic on the Gissey-Epinac section came to an end in 1939. Then in 1953, all passenger services on the line were stopped.

In 1905,

 Léa meets Jean, the stationmaster, near Velars railway station

“Oh, young lady, hurry up if you want a ticket! The last train for Dijon will be here in 10 minutes! Don’t just stand there gawping at the viaduct! I know it’s impressive! It was built in 1851, for the line of the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée railway company. It’s been very busy for quite a while now. This year, there are 3 passenger trains per day on the Pont-d’Ouche-Dijon line. That’s really good. It’s an extension of the Epinac line. Oh, it will take about three hours, depending on the locomotive. It’s true that transport has got a lot faster with the railway. The canal has already lost its advantage for goods!

While you wait, you’ll have time to admire the chapel of Notre-Dame d’Etang. From here you can see the statue above the bell turret; it’s eight metres high. The chapel was opened nine years ago. Apparently there was an older chapel here in the Middle Ages, a little statue of the Virgin Mary has been found from it. My wife can tell you more about that, she goes on the pilgrimage every year. I’m far too busy with the station. And look, the train is coming. Mind the steam!”


From the top of Mont Etang, a monumental statue overlooks Velars-sur-Ouche. It can be seen from a great distance and has given its identity to a whole region. It was erected in the nineteenth century, and marks the spot where some shepherds discovered a miraculous statue of the Virgin in the middle of the Hundred Years War. This discovery gave rise to a major religious cult. Pilgrimages are still organised on Mothers’ Day and on the first Sunday in July and September.

The village of Fleurey-sur-Ouche

A waymarked trail with 19 information boards takes the visitor though the streets of the village: on a walk of about 2.6 km you travel through 2000 years of history! Fleurey has a wealth of heritage marked by human habitation from the Mesolithic period to the present day, all indicating it was a place of passage, a halt on both the pilgrim routes and on commercial routes.

Leuzeu Manor

In the hollow of a little valley lies Leuzeu Manor. From its origins as a monastic farm in the thirteenth century, then a hunting lodge for the Dukes of Burgundy, the residence then became a fortified manor house in the seventeenth century. A succession of noble families allowed tenant farmers to work the land, in return for an annual rent. In 1930, the last farmer left the manor and in 1944, Leuzeu was a fallback position for the maquis fighters of the French Resistance. In July, under attack from 400 French militia, the Resistance fighters bravely drove back their attackers. A plaque laid by the ‘Friends of the Val de Leuzeu’ recalls the victorious outcome of this battle.


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!