"Burgundy - Canal Boating" Bourgogne by pedroswift
Bourgogne Travel Guide: 1,133 reviews and 3,526 photos
You think, "Wine"? .........Of course you do!
Do you think "The Burgundy Canal" ? You might: I do!
Whenever we think about drinking fine wine and eating gourmet food while lazing around on the deck of a canal barge, we are revisiting magazine articles or tv shows we have seen featuring more often than not the Canal de Bourgogne.
This canal was started as long ago as 1606 with the idea of linking rivers flowing into the Atlantic (Yonne/Seine) with the main north/south Rhone &Saone system flowing into the Med. For over 150 years it provided an important transport link allowing heavy cargoes to be carried at reasonable cost.
Today, commercial use of the canal is negligible so the hotel boats, bare-boat charterers and privately owned pleasure boaters have it to themselves.
The canal is one of the most beautiful waterways in France; hence the extensive use by hotel barges catering for up to 18 or more guests (8 on more exclusive boats with 4 double staterooms). The country side varies from closed wooded areas to vast open vistas and there is an historic site or architectural wonder around nearly every bend.
Essentially , a series of locks (ecluses) lift or lower the water level to climb or descend the range of hills between two watersheds. At the top of the range (the watershed pound), water is held in ponds or dams to gravity feed the system. Each time locks are used water from the pound storage system is used so it is a finite resource shared by other users (farmers) so it can run out during droughts & close the canal system. Be aware of that.
On the Burgundy Canal - Each lock lifts/drops the water level about 2.5 -3 metres (there is one 5.5m and a hand-full closer to 4 m).
On the Burgundy Canal, the section from the Yonne River (Laroche-Migennes) to the pound at Pouilly en Auxois climbs 300 meters over 155 kms through 113 locks.To save building more locks a 3,349 metre tunnel has been cut through the top of the hill east of Pouilly. From the pound down to the Saone River at St Jean de Losne, the canal has a 200m change in elevation over 81 kms via 76 locks.
Most of the locks are manually operated. This means man power is required to open/close the 4 gates at each lock by way of levers or mechanical winches and man power is required to open water valves in each steel gate to let water in or out of the lock. (Work was being done in 2006 to electrify some locks near Pouilly).
Not only do you get to see the scenery, you get plenty of exercise as well!!
Check the travelogues below for more details on boating on French Canals & Rivers in General. Includes some advice on boathandling. You may need it!?
Check Travelogues below for specific canal systems if you are planning a hire boat excursion on the waterways of France
Not all the waterways we have travelled have been included. Don't hesitate to ask questions via the "Comments" box below.
IF you wish to do it in style Charter an hotel barge!!! Have not experienced this barge personally so can not endorse it. This is just an example of the many available. Luxury equals 6 or 8 guests and high prices. URL: http://hotelbarge.com/itinerary/ or Google "hotel barge in France" for altenatives.
There are other options with less luxury at two thirds the price. The compromise being more guests in smaller cabins. Some cater for up to 20 people in 10 cabins and during high season charge approx AUD 6,000 for 6 nights per couple.
Some boats offer "a cycling holiday" with the opportunity to ride a set route each day with site and sight seeing organised while the boat moves to a new port during the day. Means you have an assured bed each night and do not have to lug your gear with you on the bike.
A word of warning to potential canal cruisers. It is not " adventure tourism" and compared with bungee jumping, mountain biking and white water rafting it's pretty tame. So if you are a "go-getter, action man or woman" you may be a little disappointed. However, it has its attractions : one of which is the very laid back nature of the activity. A great way to chill out......I won't mention the eating and drinking to be had along the way.
There are canals in all parts of France. Over 7,000 kms. Check out the Map
STOP PRESS !!!
"But I'm not into boating!! I'd rather ride my bike!!!"
Fair enough. Do you realise that most French canals have an associated tow-path. This is usually a sealed mini road on one side of the canal to facilitate maintenance-crew access. Basically a flat smooth path suitable for bicycles! Perfect!!read more.
STOP PRESS !!!
"But I'm not into boating!! I'd rather walk!!!"
Fair enough. The characteristics described above are every hiker's dream.
Beaujolais : Is it in Bourgogne or somewhere else?? Some is in Burgundy region some in Rhone Alps. I've been as logical as VT data base allows (no place named Beaujolais) and put my page at Beaujeu, historic capital of the Beaujolais Region
Interested in History in the Making In my opinion, Essential Viewing in the Burgundy Region is the site of a medieval fortress being built from scratch using the traditional building techniques. :Guedelon.
Specific Canal info in Travelogues below:
Canal de Bourgogne
Canal Rhone au Rhin
Canal de Marne au Rhin
click "Next" to get past the "life on the canals" travelogues!!
- Pros:Beauty, history, gastronomy, wine
- Cons:nothing to report
- In a nutshell:Top area to start exploring France by car or boat
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