Canal de Bourgogne, du Nivernais, Yonne, Seine
Nestling under the vineyards of the Côte St Jacques, Joigny is proud of its many fine churches, houses with carved wood decoration, and above all its gastronomy – delicious dishes and fine wines. Close to the Canal de Bourgogne and the Canal du Nivernais, Joigny is the ideal location to discover Burgundy and a fantastic start base for a canal cruise.
Linking the Yonne to the Saône, the Canal de Bourgogne, started in 1775 and finished in 1834, takes you in secret and spectacular ways to the heart of the Renaissance period. At that time the Duchy of Burgundy was separate from, and vied in magnificence with, the Kingdom of France - much smaller than the country we know today. Its buildings ranging from superb abbeys to fortified farmhouses lie amongst landmark ancient Poplar trees. Stop and tie up close to the superb aqueduct at St Florentin and climb up to its church to admire its magnificent stained glass.
At Tonnerre the Fosse Dionne pool surrounded by ancient houses, still provides a water supply to the town. Magnificent and splendidly-furnished Renaissance chateaux such as Tanlay and Ancy-le-Franc punctuate your boating holidays.
The marvellous high-vaulted Abbey of Fontenay, tucked away in a secluded valley, is a short bike ride away. Near Venarey-les-Laumes at the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine you’ll want to visit the site of the Gaulish fortress of Alesia where Vercingetorix surrendered to Caesar after a two month siege. The wide and gently winding valley of the Yonne separates the orchards of the Puisaye from the Othe forest; its wooded uplands, cleared in part by the medieval abbeys in order to make way for crops and apple orchards, accompany you as you reach Villeneuve-sur-Yonne within its fortified gates and Sens, with its 16th century half-timbered houses dominated by the superb cathedral of St Etienne.
Upstream on the Yonne from Joigny lies Auxerre and the golden roofs of its elegant town houses. The town owes its prosperity over the years to the vineyards of Chablis and the Auxerrois. The Canal du Nivernais passes through many wine-producing villages such as Irancy, perhaps the most picturesque of all with its vines and cherry orchards, and nearby Vezelay, starting point of the pilgrimage to Compostela. Here good food, good restaurants and fine architecture are complemented by its setting amidst vineyards, orchards and forests.