The Burgundy Canal between Migennes and Pouilly-en-Auxois offers the perfect combination of easy walking, rural scenery, small villages and historical splendour. Within easy walking distance or a shuttle bus ride from the canal, you’ll find seven châteaux (including Château d’Ancy-le-Franc), eleven churches, one abbey, two of France’s most beautiful villages and forty other points of interest, such as canal bridges, museums, old buildings and of course, the canal tunnel.
Your hardest challenge will be deciding how to fit everything in and what you’ll need to leave out.
For the first forty-odd kilometres (thirty miles) of the walk, the canal is straight with only a few twists and turns to provide any sense of mystery. If you can ride a bike (which I can’t), then cycling this section will free up some time for exploring Saint-Florentin and Tonnerre.
After Tonnerre, the canal more closely resembles the meandering path you may have imagined it to be and when there is no boat traffic to distract you, it is easy to imagine horses plodding along the same tow path hundreds of years ago, pulling a barge behind them.
As you walk through the towns along the path, you’ll discover markets at Migennes, Brienon-sur-Armançon, Saint-Florentin, Tonnerre, Ancy-le-Franc, Ravières, Montbard, Venarey-les-Laumes and Pouilly-en-Auxois that are well worth a visit.
The 150 kilometre (ninety-five mile) stretch between Migennes and Pouilly-en-Auxois can be walked comfortably in seven days but—I can almost hear you ask—why wouldn’t you just cycle the whole way? You could, of course, but if you do, be sure to stop frequently and turn around—the view in the opposite direction is often completely different but equally lovely as the one in front of you.