Cycling the beautiful Mosel River


West to Pouilly-en-Auxois Canal Tunnel

Submitted by mag on Mon, 06/24/2019 - 01:10

On Monday, June 24, we needed to ride into Pouilly-en-Auxois to get our signatures notarized to sell a house, so we headed west. 

This allowed us to revisit one of the most amazing engineering feats along the 242 km Canal du Borgourne that connects the English Channel to the Mediterrranean.  Pouilly is the summit of the Burgundy Canal and required the construction of a 3.33 kilometre (over 2 mile) long tunnel from Pouilly-en-Auxois to Escommes.. It's carved in a straight line through hills that separate the Yonne and Saone river valleys.  Completed in 1832, the tunnel is less than 6 meters wide and about 3 high. There are 32 ventilation towers - the tallest in 50 meters tall.  You can see the ventilator towers in the photos. of us riding along the path above the tunnel.  Tour boats still work their way slowly through the tunnel, but from what we heard, cycling along the top is a more pleasant experience.  

In the 1800's canal boats were pulled by horses, but of course horses could not pass through the tunnel - instead an immersed chain towed convoys of barges under the city.  In the 1900s this was replaced by a tow boat that can still be seen.

Although Pouilly is a fascinating town from a scenery, engineering and historic perspective, it isn't much of a town - kind of closed and uninviting. We didn't find the perfect lunch spot,  so on the way back we stopped at a tiny courtyard cafe in the friendly town of Vandenesse in view of ChateauNeuf en Auxois... this fortified town and castle on the peak is one of the most beautiful in France.  It seems I'm not the only one that calls it the "Fairy Tale Castle"  - the name of our cafe translates to "Once Upon a Time". So we had a 

So we were able to combine an interesting ride and fun day with our errand to the notaire, which turned out to be a failure because of some technical issue with the form.  .