On the far side of the Pouilly tunnel a quick sequence of locks took Wanderlust down from the summit pound of the Canal de Bourgogne to the village of Vandenesse-en-Auxois. With only 275 full-time residents and a seemingly equal number of flower boxes, Vandenesse is a typical small French village.
In the center of the commune is a port de plaisance with an adjacent overnight area for campervans. The port and campervan parking area are well used. On summer evenings, after the camper vans, hotel barges, and canal travelers all arrive, the population of the town swells by over 20%.
Vandesse’s popularity is aided by its location. The village sits down the hill the area’s biggest draw, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois. (Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is one of at least 33 communes in France with “Châteauneuf” in the name.) The turreted castle in Châteauneuf-en-Auxois’ commands the area and overlooks Vandenesse, the Canal de Bourgogne, and the Autoroute du Soleil or A6, which passes nearby.
We’ve whizzed through the area many times on the A6 and have seen the château with its ferry tale turrets on the hilltop. On the side of the autoroute a brown tourist sign tells passing motorists that the Château de Châteauneuf is nearby. Through the windshield Châteauneuf, up on the hill in the distance, looked interesting. But passing by at 130 kph it never was convenient to visit. It wasn’t until we traveled through the area by the canal that we actually had a chance to explore the town.
It’s a steep hike or bike ride to get up the hill from Vandenesse to Châteauneuf. With Becky’s hip acting up, we instead arranged for a taxi to take us to the village. This gave us a couple of hours to explore chateau, its museum, the town, and to lunch at one of the village’s restaurants. Though Châteauneuf is not a top shelf travel guide destination, it is surprisingly popular. There were numerous tourists wandering the streets.
Château de Châteauneuf’s keep was originally constructed in 1132. Like many of the historic buildings in this area of Burgundy, the château has roots to the Dukes of Burgundy. In the 14th Century, facing the threat of the Hundred Years’ War, the lords of Châteauneuf enhanced the fortifications building the high walls that the tourist’s see today.
Châteauneuf is compact. It does not take long to explore. A couple of hours after we arrived our taxi returned to Châteauneuf to take us back us to Vandenesse. The following day we would continue on way down the Canal de Bourgogne.
Wanderlust reached Vandenesse-en-Auxois on August 8 2016. She traveled 9 kilometers and passed through eight locks and one tunnel. Her engine ran for 3.5 hours.
Clicking on this link will bring up a map of the route from Pouilly to Vandenesse.