made a beautiful trip on the Canal de Bourgogne in May 2002.
The Canal de
Bourgogne is 242 kilometers long and links the river Yonne, a tributary
of the river Seine, with the Saône. The first ship crossed the
The canal is known
for its many locks, 189 totally, 113 at the Yonne-side and 76 at
the Saône-side. From the Yonne the canal climbs along the river Armarçon 299 meters
to 378 meters above sea-level (it 's the highest canal in France) to
descend at the Saône-side 199 meters again.
Our voyage starts
at the Yonne side in Venarey-les-Laumes. On that particular point is the
beginning of an enormous chain of locks. There are 39 locks at a
distance of 13,8 kilometers. Between lock 55 and lock 16 the canal
climbs 98 meters. All the locks have the so called Freycinet measures.
The ships can be
38,5 meters long and 5,05 meters wide at the most.
this chain of locks is the longest section of the canal. It 's 10,45 kilometers
At the highest
point a tunnel is situated which is 3.333 meters long. Their is no towpath in the
tunnel. The horses had to walk by a lane towards the other side. Along this
lane - situated straight above the tunnel - you can see 32 air-shafts.
They look like wells. The highest point is 48 meters above the tunnel.
In earlier days the
barges were pulled through the tunnel by way of a chain attached to the
walls or pushed with gaffs. Later on a tugboat was used to pull the
barges through the tunnel. In the beginning it was a steamer. The
steamer was responsible for a terrible climate in the tunnel despite of
the 32 air-shafts. I have read that a shipper died because of the
air-pollution. Later on the steamer was replaced for that reason by an
electrical tugboat. The tugboat could tow up to ten barges.
tugboat is being restored nearby the beginning of the tunnel. You can
also see the dock-tank in which boats could be transported which were to
We have navigated
after the summit level eight locks down in the direction of the Saône
to Vandenesse. After an mandatory rest - on the first of May the
locks are closed in France - we went back the same way and
navigated then all the way to the river Yonne. Traveling we have passed beautiful villages with castles and wash houses.