On the water
From rivers, canals and lakes, explore the varied scenery of this "watery region". Wherever you stop there are unforgettable outings available, on foot or by bike, to some of Burgundy's loveliest natural sites and historic places. Float along between canal locks, moor your boat, explore waterside towns and villages... Make an epic journey through the history of Burgundy's water-based trades and crafts.
A great European river system
Starting in the 17th century, Burgundy created France's largest network of inland waterways. From wood floating to wine transport, each canal is a living chronicle of the lives of its bargees:
- The longest and best known is the canal de Bourgogne, linking the valleys of the Yonne and the Saône, and over 240 km long.
- The canal du Nivernais, originally used by wood floaters, runs alongside the Morvan and its foothills before joining the river Seine.
- From Chalon-sur-Saône to Digoin, the canal du Centre runs peacefully by vineyards and old mining towns, as far as the food-rich lands of the Charolais.
- The Saône not only flows into the Rhône valley, it is also one of the loveliest rivers in France. Near Tournus you can sail up the Seille to the famous poultry market at Louhans, capital of the Bresse Bourguignonne!
- Finally, sail down the last wild river in Europe, visit Nevers and the very first Château of the Loire...
There are nearly 1,200 km of inland waterways to explore. For a few hours or a whole day, short cruises on excursion boats are a good way to see the first canal locks or the great Morvan lakes. Cabin boats provide ideal accommodation for 4 to 12 people. They are easy to steer and you don't need a licence to become the skipper of a real family cruise. Prefer something classier and more comfortable? Then choose an elegant barge-hotel or cruise boat calling in at Tournus, Chalon or Mâcon.
New developments on the water
There are boats with the Tourisme & handicap label on the Saône and canal de Bourgogne, with specially adapted access and on-board facilities.
River cruises and water sports are essentially eco-friendly and, as such, contribute to sustainable development. On rivers and canals, a number of excursion boats are powered by solar energy! Signs put in place by the "écopagayeurs" provide canoeists and kayakists with detailed information on plant and wildlife of the Loire and Saône. Another way to stay close to nature...
And back on land?
Set foot on land whenever you want! Take a trip along the Cycle tracks and Voies vertes of the Tour de Bourgogne à vélo®, stopping off to taste some good wine or have a golf lesson! Specialist agencies in Burgundy can organise your holiday, from complete package to 'go as you please' tours, including railway station shuttle service, boat hire, tickets to historical sights and gourmet events. If you want to move from one activity to another and/or avoid coming back the same way, choose a one-way cruise...
Bourgogne Tourisme edits a brochure on boating holidays "Inland waterways in Burgundy"
Canal du Centre : www.canal-du-centre.asso.fr
Canal du Nivernais : www.canal-du-nivernais.com
Canal de Bourgogne : www.canoekayak-bourgogne.fr
"Eco-pagayeurs" routes :www.canal-du-centre.asso.frSee all house boats