The Burgundy Canal is located in central-eastern France in the region of “Bourgogne-Franche-Comté”, the French call the canal “Le Canal de Bourgogne“.
The canal spans across the two eastern counties ("departments") of the Yonne and the Cote d’Or for more than 200 kilometres, winding its way through small towns, villages and valleys. The most important city along the canal is Dijon which is also the capital of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
Travelling to the canal via road is fairly easy, with nearby autoroutes from Mulhouse, Lyon, Paris, and Reims. Using the trains you have high-speed TGV access to Dijon and Montbard, from Paris, Lausanne, and Geneva.
The map below outlines the region of Burgundy and shows the canal crossing the region from the northwest to the southeast.
Other canals in Burgundy
There are also three other important canals in the region: the Canaux du Centre, Canal du Nivernais and Canal Marne à la Saône.
Canaux du Centre
The “Canaux du Centre” is five canals joined together connecting the river Seine at Sainte Mammes in the north to the river Saône at Chalon sur Saône in the south and crosses the centre of France, hence the name. The canal still has important commercial traffic with barges up to 38 metres and the locks are built to the Freycinet standard. The names of the canals making the Canaux du Centre :
- Canal du Loing
- Canal du Briard
- Canal lateral à la Loire
- Canalde Roanne à Digoin
- Canal du Centre
Canal du Nivernais
The Canal du Nivernais connects the river Yonne in the town of Auxerre in the north and then joins the Canal du Centre to the south at Decize, via a small navigable section of the river Loire. The canal is very pretty but reserved for barges of less than 30 metres in length.
Canal Marne à la Saône
The canal is still used by commercial barges and connects the river Marne at Vitry le François in the north to the river Saone in the south at Heuilly sur Saône. Built to Freycinet standards barges up to 38 metres can navigate the canal. The canal spans 224 kilometres with a total of 114 locks.
Navigable rivers of Burgundy
With all the canals there are of course rivers connected via the canals. In the north, you have access to the river Seine, via the river Loing to the Canaux du Centre, and the river Yonne via the Burgundy Canal. In the south, the canals join the river Saone with access to the beautiful River Doubs.
The river connects the Alsace Canal (Canal de l’Est) at Corre to the river Rhone at Lyon. There is important commercial traffic with barges up to 185 metres long. Whilst the river is fairly narrow and curved upstream, as you approach Saint-Jean-de- Losne the river becomes wide. Passing through important towns such as Chalon-sur-Saône and Macon, before joining the River Rhône at Lyon.
The River Doubs
The river Doubs (Canal du Rhône au Rhin) connects the Saone at Saint Jean de Losne and Rhone to the Rhine at Mulhouse. As you cruise you’ll be alternating between canal and river. There are two tunnels, one at Besançon and the other at Thoraise. The Doubs is famous for its instability and water level which can rise rapidly.
The River Yonne
The River Yonne has its source at Glux-en-Glenne in the Nievre, not too far from the archaeology site of the Gallic town of Bibracte. It flows northwards and is joined by the beautiful Canal du Nivernais, then through the city of Auxerre and then into the Seine. The river is more than 290 kilometres long and 108 kilometres is navigable.
All of the waterways allow boats and barges to navigate, offering you hundreds of miles of water to explore.