Archives : L’Art de Vivre
Did you ever think about the history of the canals that meander through the French countryside? Created by human labor, these channels were produced through human perseverance and ingenuity in days when traversing wilder countryside was possible only by rugged pathways or old Roman roads. A good day’s travel was measured in tens of miles, not hundreds, as it is today. The waterways we view from the decks of a Burgundy canal barge, with the eyes of a tourist or pleasure cruiser, were historically created for the critical purposes of commerce and communication.
Take, for example, the Canal du Nivernais, or Nivernais Canal, in northern Burgundy. It was begun in 1784 in order to aid in the floating of lumber from the Morvan National Park to Paris. There are 110 locks and three tunnels along its 180 kilometer (110 mile) route – which makes it a fascinating waterway to traverse from a touristic perspective, but must have been extremely difficult to design and build with the limited technologies available more than two centuries ago. Over the years, the Nivernais Canal contributed significantly to the economic development of the valleys of the Yonne River through which it flows.
Between Auxerre and Clamecy, you float through lush countryside, with daily excursions to northern Burgundy’s highlights including:
- Auxerre, the bustling market town on the Yonne River
- Burgundy wine village of Chablis with wine tasting in a charming wine cave
- Pretty medieval town of Noyers
- Hilltop artisan village of Vezelay with sweeping views and the Basilica of Mary Magdelene
- Chateau de Bazoches, fascinating home of the Marquis de Vauban, France’s great military engineer
From your vantage point on the barge or when walking and biking the towpaths, you will see curved stone bridges, vineyard vistas and bucolic pastures. Pretty villages dot the landscape inviting you to explore.
The important mercantile history of the Nivernais Canal with its heritage and beauty adds to the charm of a barge cruise along this remarkable canal. Ready for an historic adventure?
Contact us today to book your cruise on the Nivernais Canal.
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988