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

Although secondary ports disappeared, and some industrial facilities no longer exist, you can still find quays, dry docks and guardhouses dating from the nineteenth century.

Today the canal has 43 ports, dedicated to tourism on the canal.


The port of Venarey-les-Laumes, built in the first third of the nineteenth century, is now used to serve pleasure boats, and major tourist projects have been developed: the restoration of the factory buildings, the construction of a harbourmaster’s office, a new basin and the provision of a carpark and a park.

In 1890, at the port of Venarey-les Laumes.

Léa meets Léonie, a waitress at the Paradis Terrestre

“Don’t tell the boss, please, young lady! I’ve just run out for a minute to see what’s going on at the port! It‘s a bit too far to see anything from the café. Here with the boats, and the carts coming and going, you can watch the people going about their business. With all the factories round here, the barrel makers, the tile factories, it brings a lot of work to the area. I’m most interested in the Tripier cement works! You see that big stone building? Well, apparently, the factory was there long before the port. And the port came along after the canal. Well, the reason I’m interested in it is because my boyfriend is in charge of the lime there! Oh, my goodness, and here he is! I’ll bid you goodbye, young lady”.

The Castle of Bussy Rabutin

This castle, finished in 1649, was the family home where Roger de Bussy-Rabutin came to live in forced exile. A troubled cousin of Madame de Sévigné, thrown out of Versailles by the King, he dissipated his resentment and regret by creating a unique interior decor. This incredible fantastical decor, made up of a gallery of paintings and caustic mottos, contrasts with the castle’s sober exterior.


Snuggling against the slope of Mont Auxois, the village still recalls the spirit of resistance, inspired by characters from the past. On the oppidum of Alesia, Vercingetorix faced up to Caesar’s armies; where the miraculous fountain springs forth, the young Queen was executed for refusing the advances of a Roman prefect. Félix Kir was born in the village, famous both for his charisma and his aperitif, as well as for his Resistance activities from 1940. You can follow in the footsteps of these three outstanding personalities as you wander through the alleyways of the village.


This little medieval village, perched on a hill, is one of the loveliest villages in France. Built around an eighth-century Benedictine abbey, it is made up of beautiful stone houses, protected by ramparts and three fortified gateways. In addition to its outstanding heritage, it is famous for its little aniseed-flavoured sweets, which are exported all over the world.

The MuséoParc Alésia

On the very spot where the battle between Vercingetorix and Caesar took place, the MuséoParc Alésia takes the visitor back to 52 BC, when the warriors of the Gallic coalition and the soldiers of the Roman army faced up to each other. The Interpretation Centre, the Gallo-Roman remains, and the statue of Vercingetorix provide an entertaining, historical, and archaeological visit to help you understand this emblematic event. 


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!