Along the Canal du Nivernais, Burgundy

The canal creates a link between the Seine and the Loire valleys, and passes through the woods of the Morvan plateau. It is considered to be the finest canal in France. On the way up it follows the Yonne river, and across the Morvan forest it takes its water from the Alnain and the Aron rivers. Cargo vessels abandoned the canal in the seventies, for its locks and bridges are quite narrow.

The origins of the canal date back to the 18th century and the construction was interrupted by the French Revolution. The canal was intimately linked with the activity of timber-floating to feed the growing energy needs of the expanding population of Paris. The logs were assembled into 50m.-long rafts in Clamecy, from where they were rowed by “flotteurs” on the slow, tiresome voyage (+200kms) along the Yonne and the Seine rivers to the quays of Paris. Being a “flotteur” was arduous work: they were often up to their knees in ice-cold water for days on end…

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