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Barging in France: The Canal de Bourgogne

Part 3: Best Places to Visit - Canal de Bourgogne / Burgundy Canal

Burgundy is a utopia of rolling vineyards and countryside, making it one of the most idyllic regions in rural France. Famous for exporting exceptional wines, Burgundy has a rich cultural history that has been shaped by the agricultural industry. There are many interesting places to visit along the 150-mile long Burgundy Canal. From Migennes at its junction with the River Yonne, to Saint-Jean-de-Losne at its connection with the River Saône, there are many places of interest for everyone.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Map ofCanal de Bourgogne, France -
Canal de Bourgogne - Click to englarge in another window

Beaune, capital of the Burgundy wine country, is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Burgundy. Until the 15th century, Beaune was the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. France eventually took the town from the Burgundians in 1477, after Louis XI annexed the Duchy following Charles the Bold's death.

First a Gallic sanctuary and then a Roman town, Beaune is now a mecca for wine lovers. Ramparts surround this thriving town and have a labyrinth of caves (wine cellars). During its three-day festival and wine auction in November, free wine-tastings draw immense crowds, many of whom arrive thirsty and leave satisfied, albeit a little tipsy.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Beaune Hotel Dieu -
Beaune Hôtel-Dieu

The Hôtel-Dieu dates from the 12th century and is a charity hospital funded by the sale of wines produced on lands donated by its benefactors. Until 1971, it was a working hospital. It was originally constructed to provide free care for men who had fought in the Hundred Years' War. Today, the Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu displays Flemish-Burgundian art and the Grand Salle, at 165 feet long, is a showpiece to display its original furniture. Its world-renowned roof tiles are polychromatic in the Burgundian-style and date from the Renaissance.

Chablis is a pretty little town on the banks of the River Serein. Known as the "Golden Gate of Burgundy", it is famous the world over for its crisp dry white wines. Visitors enter through the turreted towers of the Porte Noël gateway, opening on to narrow stone streets and houses dating from the 14th to 16th century. St-Martin's collegiate church, whose construction started in 1160, was one of the first French churches of Gothic design. It is a miniature copy of the Sens Cathedral. Relics of Saint Martin, the patron saint of travellers, are kept in the church named after him.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Chateauneuf-en-Auxois -

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is a tiny, charming, hilltop village, well worth the climb up the steep path. This fascinating, romantic bastide (fortified town) has a turreted castle, encircling walls, and elegant houses once belonging to rich merchants. The château, built in the 12th to 15th centuries, affords a broad vista over the rolling farmlands, the Burgundy Canal and the woodlands of the Morvan Forest. At its peak, the town had a population of 500; today it has approximately 90 inhabitants.

The Petit Pontigny, a set of buildings surrounded by walls, is the venue for all festivities and ceremonies of Chablis and its famous vineyards. Its cellar, also dating from the 12th century, is now the only remaining feature of this property and once belonged to the monks of Pontigny. Nearby is the St-Cosme priory, built by monks in the 12th century.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Chateau de Commarin -
Château de Commarin

The Château de Commarin been in the hands of the same family for 26 generations – over seven centuries! This once fortified castle, built in 1346, underwent radical transformations in the 16th century to convert it into a modern habitation and was further reconstructed in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The existing château was built in the 18th century by the Marquis d'Antigny, minister for Napoleon, and the Marquise d'Antigny, grandmother to the Prince de Talleyrand. Furnished with parquet floors and magnificent tapestries, it survived the French Revolution untouched. Despite its occupation by German troops in the Second World War, Château de Commarin is in an excellent state of preservation, with its 14th century towers and chapel still intact. The château houses a collection of tapestries from the 16th century and rare examples of period furniture and other objects.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Clos de Vougeot -
Clos de Vougeot

The Clos de Vougeot is one of the largest and most exclusive vineyards in Burgundy. Designated a UNESCO world heritage site, its central château surveys the rolling terroirs of vines that surround it. Founded by Cistercian monks from the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux, the fifty hectares of vineyards are at the heart of the Côte de Nuit region and are enclosed by historic walls. Visitors to the region should take advantage of a wine-tasting at the vineyard to experience the flavors of its prestigious Pinot Noirs.

A large 14th century barn on the Clos de Vougeot estate houses four wooden grape presses and several huge storage vats. Originally built to produce wine for the religious ceremonies of the monks, the barn can store up to 2000 casks of wine. In the 16th century, the château replaced the Cistercian chapel to provide comfortable living quarters for the family who bought the vineyard. Clos de Vougeot is now the seat of Burgundy's world-renowned wine-loving community, the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

The town of Irancy was developed beginning in the year 900AD when the Abbot Richard, Duke of Burgundy, expanded his abbey to include the region of Irancy. The area predominantly produces red wines from the Pinot Noir variety, however they also make a small amount of rosé wines. Irancy's unusual topography – it lies in the hollow of a valley whose slopes are covered with vines and cherry trees – shelters it from the worst of the winter weather, while also allowing for sufficient sun to ripen the grapes. This is one of the most northerly areas for growing red wine grapes.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Meursault -

Meursault is a large, well-to-do town. It is at the entrance to the great white wine producing basin of the Côte de Beaune, where vineyards spread over gentle slopes. The town's origins lie with a Gallo-Roman settlement, Mont Mélian, and the remains of its fort are still visible on a hill above the village. Later, in the Middle Ages, the town served as a base for treating leprosy in the Hôpital de Meursault. Today the town is the home of an international wine festival. La Paulée de Meursault and its eponymous white wines are some of the most celebrated in Burgundy.

Château d'Époisses is a medieval castle that has been in the same family since 1661. The village is famous for its soft creamy, and very pungent cheese, which is washed in Marc de Bourgogne (a local spirit) that helps it to ripen.

French Hotel Barges - Barging in France - Abbaye de Fontenay -
Abbaye de Fontenay

Nearby is the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay. Founded by St-Bernard in 1119, UNESCO described it as being "an excellent illustration of the ideal of self-sufficiency as practiced by the earliest communities of Cistercian monks". Ravaged and abandoned during the French Revolution, and later serving time as a paper factory, the carefully restored Abbey is now the most complete remaining medieval monastery in France. As a testimony to the monastery's desire to be self-sufficient, the complex includes cloisters, dormitories, outbuildings, fish ponds, bakery, mill, forge and even a prison.

Semur-en-Auxois, built on a pink granite cliff in a hollow of the Amarançon Valley, is a splendid example of a small Burgundian town. Dating from the 14th century, four circular towers which doubled as dungeons guarded this fortress town. The Tour de l'Orle d'Or houses a small museum and the towns Notre Dame de Semur is considered by some to be the most beautiful Gothic church in Burgundy.

Guide to the Canal de Bourgogne / Burgundy Canal

Luxury Hotel Barge Cruises in Burgundy

A barge cruise along one of Burgundy's canals is a wonderful experience. This region boasts some of the world's finest wines with about 60,000 acres of sunlit vines and some of the prettiest canals in France. The waterways wind through the heart of Burgundy's renowned vineyards, medieval towns, elegant châteaux, magnificent cathedrals, picturesque villages and wonderful local markets. Burgundy guarantees a wealth of sightseeing opportunities.

French Hotel Barge Cruises - Canal de Bourgogne


Hotel Barge LA BELLE EPOQUE - Barging in France, Burgundy -

Northern Burgundy: Canal du Bourgogne
Up to 12 guests
Charters and Cabin cruises
Themed Cruises:
Family, Golf, Walking, Wine

Online Brochure


Hotel Barge IMPRESSIONNISTE - Barging in France -

Southern Burgundy: Canal du Bourgogne
Up to 12 guests
Charters and Cabin cruises
Themed Cruises:
Culinary, Family, Golf, Wine

Online Brochure


Hotel Barge GRAND CRU - Barging in France -

Southern Burgundy: Canal de Bourgogne
Up to 8 guests
Charters only - Inquire for cabin cruises
Themed Cruises:

Online Brochure


Hotel Barge PROSPERITE - Barging in France -

Southern Burgundy: Canal de Bourgogne
Up to 8 guests
Charters only - Inquire for cabin cruises
Themed Cruises:
Family, Golf

Online Brochure


Hotel Barge RENDEZ-VOUS - Barging in France -

Southern Burgundy: Canal de Bourgogne
Up to 6 guests
Charters only - Inquire for cabin cruises
Themed Cruises:
Golfing, Cycling

Online Brochure

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