The Burgundy Canal

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Presentation Burgundy Canal

Le canal de Bourgogne à La Bussière sur Ouche
Le canal de Bourgogne à La Bussière sur Ouche

The Burgundy Canal connects the Yonne (in Migennes) to the Saône (in Saint-Jean-de-Losne) by crossing the watershed between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This canal, 242 km long, has 189 locks, 4 aquaducts 1 at Pont d'Ouche and tunnel 3333 m at its highest point in Pouilly-en-Auxois (altitude 378 m) and is therefore as such the highest canal in France.

Tens of kilometers of drains fill the reservoirs and the canal. Rainwater naturally goes into these drains before being stored in the reservoirs. At each lock, 500 m3 of water goes in the next pound. If the idea of ​​joining the two seas dates from Roman times, it was not until the king's edict, Louis XV in 1775 ordering the opening of the Burgundy Canal to achieve this, with its inauguration in 1832.

Louis XV in 1775 ordering the opening of the Burgundy Canal to achieve this, with its inauguration in 1832. At the time of its construction, the Burgundy Canal was a feat of engineering and a leader of civil engineering work. Hope for new revenue sources, peaked in the mid-19th century. It was the main line of communication between the North and the South of France.

At that time, many goods that fed Paris were processed in factories built along the canal and then sold in ports: wood, coal, rolled iron, iron ore, cement, plaster, lime, burgundy stone, wine, sugar beet, cereals, etc. Tarmac roads did not appear before 1920. There were only paths on which a carriage led by two shire horses pulling 1 ton, while a man (or sometimes even a woman) drew only 25 tonnes on a boat! From 1900, it is the horses, donkeys and cows that have replaced the man, then gradually steam tractor (or oil), then the motor in the boat.

The river port of Pont d'Ouche was connected in the nineteenth century to Epinac by one of the first railway lines opened in France. Authorized by order of King Charles X in April 1830, 26 km long, the line of Epinac to Pont d’Ouche allowed the evacuation of coal which was then transshipped from wagons on barges. After a few decades, this mode of operation, very heavy on the logistics plan was abandoned because the development of the railway network allowed the transport of coal from start to finish from Epinac without using the waterway.

Thus, the arrival of the railway in the mid 19th century will sign the decline in freight transport by water. River transport will rapidly disappear after the 2nd World War, competition from rail and road transport. Since the 1980s, the Burgundy Canal is experiencing a revival thanks to the development of tourism. Today, the Burgundy Canal is for the pleasure boat. The towpaths have been developed in order to move on foot, by mountain bike or hybrid bike.