A cruise in the Burgundy Loire Nivernais area, along the Burgundy or Nivernais canals, promises effortless boating holidays in complete comfort on your self-drive Pénichette®
Boat hire holidays in Burgundy Loire Nivernais: a real change of pace
Whichever departure base or route you choose for your cruise, everything in Burgundy Loire Nivernais gives you a feeling of total calm, but there are some big surprises too. Did you ever think you’d look down at the Loire from a boat one day? You really can, thanks to the Briare aqueduct that crosses the river over a span of more than 660 metres. Did you ever imagine being able to see more than 200 different species of birds from your boat’s pontoon? That’s exactly what’s in store for you at the Bec d’Allier, near Nevers, the premier WWF site in France. There are so many amazing, inspiring sights, such as the spectacular Collancelle tunnels, overlooking the Canal du Nivernais. The cruise is so relaxing that you’ll recharge your batteries as you glide along on your self-drive boat. Along the way you’ll find stopping places where you can discover the architectural and historical attractions of Burgundy’s iconic towns, as well as walks and wine tastings in the vineyards, and much more. As for the cruise itself, it will be everything you dreamed of when planning your boating holidays: a lungful of fresh air in beautiful natural surroundings, at the gentle pace of the waterways.
Rent a boat on the Canal de Bourgogne, Canal du Nivernais or Canal latéral à la Loire.
From both banks, pathways open up everywhere, leading you into one of France’s most famous waterways regions. It’s an exceptional network to explore from one of our bases, for an unforgettable canal boat holiday.
Located between the Yonne and the Canal de Bourgogne, the pretty town of Joigny is the starting point for canal boat holidays through the heart of the Renaissance.
Discover the map of the
destination and its waterways
Cruise through the legendary Burgundy Loire Nivernais area.
Towns of Art and History, world famous wines, delicious local produce and unspoilt landscapes – all perfect ingredients for a waterways cruise. Here’s our Burgundy top-5 in the Loire Nivernais area.
The châteaux of Ancy-le-Franc and Tanlay, for lovers of the Renaissance
Beside the Burgundy Canal are two architectural jewels: one housing the largest collection of wall paintings from the Renaissance and the other boasting a trompe-l’œil art gallery that has made it famous.
Le Bec d’Allier, a birdwatcher’s heaven!
Near Nevers, make some amazing discoveries at the premier WWF site in France, listed by Natura 2000, with over 200 different birds to watch from your boat!
Local specialities you can snack on
As you glide along on your self-drive boat, find your inner gourmet: we recommend gougères bourguignonnes, little choux pastries with cheese, perfect with an aperitif. Dare to taste something different: around here the dish of choice is snails en persillade, although there are other traditional dishes to try.
The Collancelle Tunnels, the three ‘ladies of the canal’
Overlooking the Canal du Nivernais are three majestic tunnels in a row: Collancelle, Mouas and Breuil. These vaulted tunnels allow canal boats to pass through unspoiled natural surroundings in a really inspiring style.
Tonnerre, Chablis and Irancy wines, the pride of the Nivernais vineyards
On both sides of the canal is a mosaic of vineyards. Meet the famous wine-growers between the vines, learn from their know-how and enjoy tasting their wines!
Locaboat operates in conjunction with Grapes & Corks to bring you selected heritage, wine and gastronomy-based activities that will turn your holiday into something special. Just take your pick! These activities are available with departure points from our bases at Briare, Joigny & Corbigny.
For further information or to make a booking, call them on +33 (0)613 593 175 or [email protected]
Burgundy is the perfect destination of slow tourism fans
If you explore Burgundy by canal boat you’ll pass through peaceful rural landscapes, carried along on the many waterways. On the banks are historic villages and fabulous works of engineering such as the Briare aqueduct. This waterways region lends itself to relaxation and daydreaming, as well as discovering delicious food and wine, and historic châteaux and abbeys. There’s so much to explore in Burgundy’s rural landscapes, steeped in natural heritage. Cruise between undulating countryside and wooded slopes as you get to know this waterways region, where the pace of boating holidays is perfectly slow. On board a comfortable Pénichette®, beginners and more experienced sailors can enjoy gliding along at the pace of the water, on the Canal du Nivernais, Canal de Bourgogne or Canal Latéral à la Loire, heading south to join the Canal du Centre. Along the way are 200 locks marking the stages of the voyage, but as most of them are automatic, you can relax and enjoy your cruise in this canal boat paradise.
Enjoy a Burgundy canal cruise through the Loire Valley
Start your Burgundy barge cruise from Joigny
There’s no better way to start your boating holiday through the heart of France than in the small commune town of Joigny. Sitting on the banks of the River Yonne, Joigny is the ideal beginning point and one that can take you in either direction of the Burgundy region. As Locaboat has a riverside marina base here, barge hire in France is made super simple. Taking a short train journey south from Paris will have you along the River Yonne banks in no time at all.
The town of Joigny itself is well worth a look before you begin your Burgundy barge trips. Known as a town of high piety and Catholicism, Joigny has a collection of early medieval churches that hold some of the most awe-inspiring religious iconography, including sculptures, stained glass and painting.
With the town of Joigny standing at a crossroads of two waterways, Canal de Bourgogne and Canal du Nivernais, boaters can choose the route that suits them best or even complete a loop of both. With so many channels to choose from, barging in Burgundy is some of the most rewarding water travel you can choose in France.
Canal boat hire along the Nivernais
Taking the route right from Joigny will lead you and your boat to the Canal du Nivernais. This man-made waterway joins two of the country’s most famous rivers, the Loire and the Seine. Starting from its most northerly point, a holidaymaker’s Burgundy cruise will first pass through the town of Auxerre, an intriguing starting point for the journey down the Canal du Nivernais. The town is one of the largest in Burgundy and makes for a great introduction to the canal as a whole.
The town is at the heart of the region’s Burgundy Winemaking industry and is a great place to sample a glass or two. Alongside the gastronomical allure, Auxerre is also home to the Abbey of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre, a former Benedictine monastery with some of the most ancient mural paintings in all of France.
Barging in Burgundy France will take you from Auxerre down the Canal du Nivernais and eventually to the commune of Corbigny. As another of Locaboat’s many French bases, Corbigny is not only the canal’s halfway point but can also be a great place to start your barge cruise in Burgundy if you wish to do so. Canal Nivernais boat hire here is just as easy as it would be further upriver. The town has its fair share of attractions, with Saint Léonard Abbaye taking centre stage. A classic music festival is also held here every year, and if your holiday coincides with this, you’re in luck.
When in Burgundy, France, canal cruise’s down the Canal du Nivernais are likely to end at the confluence of the Canal du Nivernais and the Loire River.
Burgundy canal holidays along Canal de Bourgogne
Taking the left spur from Joigny will take your canal boat hire in Burgundy along the region’s most iconic waterway, the Canal du Bourgogne. Running from the Yonne River junction to the Saône River junction in the south, the canal crosses many points of interest, and boats here have a similar status to a Canal du Midi boat rental. Beginning your Canal de Bourgogne journey at its northernmost point, you and your boat will eventually wind their way to the commune of Tanlay.
This unassuming small town commune’s stunning scenery is reason alone to moor here and enjoys this canalside town’s sights. The town is famous for its Château de Tanlay, an impressive chateau that defines the region and is visible from the canalside.
Constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries, the chateau’s breathtaking ceiling frescos are worth a stop here alone. Taking your canal boat through Burgundy, winding ever south along the Canal de Bourgogne, you will pass through some of the most iconic stretches of central France. This curving stretch of canal is home to fantastic Burgundy sights such as the Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, another awe-inspiring 16th-century château. You will also set eyes on the Abbaye de Fontenay, set back behind the small town of Marmagne. This immaculately preserved 12th-century monastery is one of the oldest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in all of Europe and rightly holds UNESCO status. Following the Canal de Bourgogne’s route further on will mean you finally arrive at the famous historical capital of Burgundy, Dijon. Known also as a gastronomical centre, food and wine lovers will get so much from a stop here.
Canal and river cruises on the Loire
As France’s longest river, a Loire cruise can be one of the most rewarding in the entire country. Starting your cruise in the commune town of Briare will mean you can include a huge area in your Loire valley river cruises. This canalside town is also the location of a Locaboat mooring dock, meaning you can start your journey along the Loire with ease. Similar to River Lot boat hire, Canal boat hire in the Loire valley is quite common and hiring your own boat here makes life a whole lot easier.
Travelling down the Loire from its northern and central points means you can take in an array of fantastic and iconic Loire sights. Cutting through the Loire valley’s countryside, you will see somewhat unassuming villages, châteaus, green fields and idyllic waterside habitats.
Eventually, your Loire valley boat cruise will reach the commune town of Marseilles-lès-Aubigny. Marseilles-lès-Aubigny is home to a range of small-village-like houses and cottages, making it a calming stop before entering the cities ahead. Along with these picturesque homes, the commune is also home to a 12th-century church and the ruins of a feudal castle.
Coming to the most southerly point on Loire Riverboat trips, boaters will pass through the city of Nevers, a must stop-and-see destination along the river. Home to winding narrow medieval streets, the city of Nevers is a preserved gem of 14th-century architecture. The Ducal Palace of Nevers is the city’s most famous sight and an icon of French architecture.
Unmissable cities to explore with Loire Valley canal boats
Explore the ancient city of Nevers
As noted above, the city of Nevers is an icon of French medieval township and still home to many of these features that once made it so great. Standing on the raised hill overlooking the Loire River, Neveres itself is a picture-perfect town, looming large over the landscape and providing perfect photographic opportunities. Walking through the narrow winding streets of Nerves, visitors will be instantly taken with its compelling beauty, much of which has remained the same for centuries.
One of Nevers’ most popular sights is its cathedral, known in French as Cathédrale Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte de Nevers. Constructed at intervals over the past five hundred years, the cathedral has the unique status of being one of the only cathedrals with two apses. Apart from the cathedral, Nevers is also home to the museum of earthenware. Located in a former Benedictine monastery, there is a huge collection of plates, vases and statuettes for visitors to muse over.
Head further north to the town of Auxerre
When it comes to hiring a canal boat in the Burgundy region of France, the town of Auxerre is not to be overlooked. Like much of central France, Auxerre is home to a jaw-dropping 13th-century Gothic cathedral and is well worth a visit. A simple trundle through the city’s Old Town will open up a variety of quaint medieval buildings, many of which still retain their timber structures, adorned with carvings. This perfect blend of modern riverside city life mixed with the unmistakable air of medieval France is what makes Auxerre truly stand out as an iconic Burgundy settlement.
The Chablis region, one of Burgundy’s major wine regions, stands only a little east of the town, making it one of the best places to relax and enjoy a taste of your favourite tipple. The many cafes, restaurants and bars that call Auxerre home will be more than welcoming and won’t be shy about recommending that next best bottle of vintage.
Where to begin your journey?
As Locaboat has many bases throughout the Loire and Burgundy regions, it can be challenging to pick your ideal place to start. There are plenty of starting points to choose from, from Joigny and Briare in the north to Corbigny in the centre and Dompierre-sur-Besbre further south. If you are travelling into France from elsewhere, via a flight, for example, then starting from Joigny is an ideal beginning point. As it only takes two hours to travel from Paris to Joigny, this will mean you can streamline your boating holiday and start right away.
If you wish to boat a loop or travel the Burgundy and Loire regions in reverse, then flying into Lyon and travelling northwards to Dompierre-sur-Besbre may be a better option. Knowing which is the right route and starting point will be a completely subjective and personal decision, neither wrong nor right.
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Fancy being one of the big influencers? Go cruising to find the best instagrammable sights on the French waterways and watch the ‘likes’ coming in!
Head for the department of Loiret and the Briare base and step aboard your self-drive canal boat for a gastronomic getaway!
Briare, the picturesque home of the ‘Emaux de Briare’ enamel mosaics company, first grew up with the building of the canal linking the Loire with the Seine.