Not far from Venarey-les-Laumes the Canal-de-Bourgogne starts climbing quickly, or at least quickly for a canal. For one 12-kilometer stretch from Ecluse Mussy to Ecluse Charigny there are 37 locks. These locks lift or drop the passing boats by about 96 meters. That calculates to a gradient of roughly 0.8%, a slope that would be hardly noticed in a car. In barge on a canal, you definitely are aware that you are climbing.
The frequency of locks makes for slow forward progress though not as slow as it might be. On many waterways passing through a dozen locks would be for us a full day. But the locks on this stretch of the Bourgogne go by fast. They are closely spaced. With a well-coordinated pair of lockkeepers and little boat traffic, the progress was remarkably quick. At points we were passing through six to seven locks an hour, a rate that I would never have imagined was possible. Indeed, in one three hour day we passed through 19 locks. If we wanted to we could have gone through forty locks in a day.
Instead of blasting through this lock-heavy section of canal, we chose to stop twice between Venarey-les-Laumes to Pont Royal. The villages are pleasant and the canal for this stretch is attractive. Unfortunately in the August in rural France there isn’t much to do besides cruise the canals. Many of the shops and restaurants were closed and the tourist attractions are some distance from the away from the water. Each morning we considered lingering but the best option seemed to be to continue on our route.
On August 3rd Wanderlust travelled 4.5 kilometers from Venarey-les-Laumes to Pouillenay. In between there are 10 locks. The main engine ran for 2.2 hours.
On the 4th we moved 6 kilometers with 19 locks from Pouillenay to Marigny-le-Cahouet. Wanderlust’s engine ran for 3 hours.
Wanderlust cruised the 12 kilometers and 13 locks from Marigny-le-Cahouet to Pont Royal on the 5th of August. The journey took 3.4 engine hours.
For a map of the route, click here.