Canal de Bourgogne – Part 2

Southern Burgundy

Introduction by Unique Cruises Founder / Director Walter Nand

A Brief Overview

The Canal de Bourgogne (Burgundy Canal) connects the Yonne River at Migennes with the Saône River at Saint-Jean-de-Losne and completes the link between the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea.

Construction began back in 1775, was completed in 1832 and was considered an engineering triumph. However, because of size restrictions through some of the locks and tunnels, the canal never quite reached the levels that its promoters had envisaged and reached its peak for commercial use in 1850.

The canal is 242 km (150 mi) long, with 189 locks. There were originally 191 lock basins, but the double staircase locks at Migennes and Germigny had their uppermost set of gates removed and the lower chamber raised to form single locks, but they are twice as deep as a standard lock (5.13 m and 5.14 m instead of the usual 2.5 to 3 m).

Today, the Canal de Bourgogne is often revered as one of the nicest canals to navigate in France, with beautiful scenery that features charming French houses and colourful greenery. There are lots of historical sites to visit along the way too, including cathedrals, abbeys and delicious culinary markets. In addition, it has an excellent towpath for walking & biking.

To fully experience this stunning region by Luxury Hotel Barge the canal has been divided into two separate journeys; Northern Burgundy and Southern Burgundy. Today we will explore some of the highlights of the Southern Burgundy section from Escommes to Fleurey-sur-Ouche.


Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is one of the last remaining examples of 14th century Burgundian military architecture. During the Hundred Years War, towers and curtain walls were built to defend the village and the Auxois plains.

Listed among the most beautiful villages of France, Châteauneuf nestles at the foot of its imposing fortress, which once belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy, at a strategic location between Dijon and Autun. Walking through this anciant village, it is easy to imagine the history of this once prosperous borough. And if you look around carefully in the narrow streets, you can see houses with pediments and stair turrets.

Photo Credit: Bourgogne Tourisme


The walled city of Beaune (pronounced Bon) is one of the key wine centres in France, and the centre of Burgundy wine production. The town is surrounded by some of the world’s most famous wine villages, while the facilities and cellars of many producers, large and small, are situated in the historic centre of Beaune itself, as they have been since Roman times. The centrepiece of Beaune is the Hospices de Beaune. A hospital founded for the poor in the Middle Ages and with the most impressive Gothic architecture, you could wish to see. It is as fascinating as it is beautiful.

Photo Credit: European Waterways


Dijon, the capital city of the historical Burgundy region, has retained varied architectural styles from many of the main periods of the past millennium, including Capetian, Gothic, and Renaissance. Many still-inhabited town houses in the city’s central district date from the 18th century and earlier. It is known for its traditional mustard, vineyard tours, autumn gastronomic fair and building styles ranging from Gothic to art deco. The distinguished 1787 Musée des Beaux-Arts, housed in the vast Palace of the Dukes, holds a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, crafts and antiquities.

Photo Credit: Britanicca

Clos de Vougeot

The Clos de Vougeot vineyard was created by Cistercian monks of Cîteaux Abbey, the order’s mother abbey. The land making up the vineyard was purchased by the Cistercians, or donated to them, from the 12th century to the early 14th century. Once the vineyard was complete, and a wall had been built around it, by the year 1336 it served as the flagship vineyard of the Cistercians, and has been a highly recognised name for centuries. It is also headquarters of the esteemed Chevaliers du Tastevin, who award a special prized label to the finest Côte d‘Or vintages every year. It is easy to lose yourself in almost 900 years of history as you explore this very memorable place.

Photo Credit: Bourgogne Tourisme

These are just some of the highlights as we cruise through Southern Burgundy.

For our Blog about Burgundy please click here: Burgundy, France – Unique Cruises

If you would like to know more about our Luxury Hotel Barge Cruises in Burgundy please click here: Cruise Burgundy – Unique Cruises