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Canal du Centre
Linking the river Saône with the Loire, the Canal
du Centre has been the most commercial of all the Burgundy Canals. It
had three distinct faces. In the north between Santenay and Chagny, it
serviced the wine trade; in the middle, heavy industry, and in the south,
it came to the aid of the Charolais breeders. Today both the water and
its banks attract tourists.
Local industry flourished in the industrial revolution in the mining basin of Blanzy-Montceau, the Schneider factories in le Creusot, the iron foundries at Gueugnon, and in the manufacture of construction materials such as bricks and roof tiles. From Montceau-les-Mines to Chalon-sur-Saône the Canal du Centre was a scene of great commercial activity.
Of all the canals in Burgundy, this was the only one which didn’t pose a problem during construction, which took about ten years from 1783 to 1793.
The Canal du Centre runs through the Côte Chalonnaise, one of the major wine producing areas in Burgundy with names such as Mercurey, Givry, Rully and Montagny close to its path. Apart from the tourist traffic on the canal, through a government initative, la Voie Verte has been created, a cycle path with many features along the route. This will eventually become part of a European programme for a cycle route to link Nantes to Budapest and the Black Sea. The cycle route has been extended, see Burgundy by Bike for details and maps.
Digoin, known as the ‘town of water’ is a boater’s haven. With a marina for 100 craft, here the Canal du Centre, Canal Latéral à Loire and Canal Roanne à Digoin converge. Probably the strongest visual image is that of the Pont-Canal, resembling a viaduct only this is a ‘viacanal’ which crosses the Loire and joins the Canal du Centre with the Canal Latéral at a great height. Watch all the activity from the Observaloire centre on the bank or go on one of the river trips on offer from the Port de Plaisance.
villages en route