Canal of Burgundy – Canal de Bourgogne

This was part of a longer walk that we did in 2015.

Walking in France: Lock-keeper's cottage

Lock-keeper’s cottage

We spent a week walking on the section of the Canal of Burgundy (Canal de Bourgogne) between the Pont d’Ouche and Tonnerre, a distance of about 140 kms.

This is more than half the total length of the canal, which goes from the Yonne river in the north to the Saône in the south.

The Yonne flows into the Seine and then into the Atlantic Ocean, while the Saône joins the Rhône which goes to the Mediterranean, so the canal forms a navigable link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Not that it is used as such now – the only boats that go along it are pleasure craft.

Walking in France: Near Venarey-les-Laumes

Near Venarey-les-Laumes

Work began on the excavations in 1777, after much debate about the route. Then there was a pause of ten or fifteen years while people were otherwise occupied with the Revolution, and it was finally opened in 1832. Ironically, just a few years after that the railways arrived and put the bargemen out of business.

Nevertheless, the canal remains a national treasure, much used by cyclists, walkers and pleasure boats. We certainly appreciated its beauty as we wound our way through the green countryside under a canopy of trees.


It was very easy walking and there were plenty of bars, camping grounds and restaurants along the way.

The only time that we had difficulty was when we left the canal and went to Vitteaux, where we had to make do with a cold picnic hunched up in our tent in the rain.

Our route for this walk

The account of this walk has been broken up into two sections:

Pont d’Ouche to Venarey-les-Laumes

Venarey-les-Laumes to Tonnerre

To see icons for each night’s accommodation on this map, press the full screen symbol at the top right and then tick the accommodation icon box at the top left. Zoom in on a particular icon to see its precise location. These accommodation icons are also shown on all section maps.

You can also see this map using Google Earth and take a virtual flight along our route.

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