Nederlandse versieOther canals in FranceCanal de Bourgogne

Voyage of 2002 Venarey - Vandenesse - Joigny




We 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 watershed in 1832.

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.

Shortly after this chain of locks is the longest section of the canal. It 's 10,45 kilometers long.

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.

The electrical 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 high.

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.

Lastly edited: 17 maart 2003
Copyright: Mouringh van der Vinne
Travel-report 2002
1.  Venarey - Marigny 7.   Pouillenay - Montbard
2.  Marigny - Pouilly 8.   Montbard - Chassignelles
3.  Pouilly - Vandenesse 9.   Chassignelles - Tanlay
4.  Vandenesse 10. Tanlay - Flogny
5.  Vandenesse - Saint-Thibault 11. Flogny - Brienon
6.  Saint-Thibault - Pouillenay 12. Yonne