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The River Yonne

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River Yonne, Burgundy France

The River Yonne at Joigny

This is one of the most important rivers in Burgundy, feeding into the Paris basin.
It begins its journey by Glux-en-Glenne, 855 m above sea level, in the central granite highlands of the Morvan Natural Park travelling through Clamecy to Auxerre, Joigny and on to Sens before flowing into the river Seine. In fact a Burgundian will say that it is the Yonne which flows into Paris as it is greater at the confluence at Montereau than the Seine!

It is near the source that you will find spectacular views over the landscape from Mount Beuvray. Originally volcanic, and now covered in beech trees, this area goes back to the early roots of Burgundy to Neolithic times, and then the heady days of the Gauls under Vercingétorix. Their fortification was at Bibracte, and here the museum of archaeology is located giving an insight into the early history. This is the very centre of the Morvan Forest, little changed for centuries, relying on agriculture and forestry.

Next, to Château Chinon, famous for its erstwhile mayor who then became President Mitterrand. He is honoured in the town and still highly thought of there having helped regional development considerably; the museum at Bibracte came about through his influence and the Nièvre department was improved substantially.

The hilly, wooded region is spectacular and an ideal environment for nature lovers. The Yonne feeds into Lac de Pannecière-Chaumard, the largest reservoir in the Morvan, regulating the flow of water into the Seine and supplying hydro-electricity.

River Yonne at Joigny, Burgundy France
The River Yonne at Joigny

Corbigny to Clamecy, was famous for the ‘flotteurs’ who transported the logs down river to provide fuel for Paris. Now these are sleepy towns relying on tourism with the pleasure cruisers on the river and the Canal du Nivernais which runs through the river valley paralleling it.

Many small rivers join the Yonne on its northward journey. The River Cure is a major tributary at Cravant.

By the time the river reaches Auxerre it has become majestic. The Yonne is edged with attractive tree-line boulevards and the enormous cathedral of St-Etienne dominates the skyline. Auxerre, once an important port for the wine trade before the railways took over is today provincial and charming.

The river Armançon join the Yonne as it heads to the medieval town of Joigny with its vine clad slopes and then to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. On through the plains of wheat to the ancient city of Sens the river joins the Seine at Montereau.

Cruise on a luxury hotel barge from Auxerre through Joigny and Sens, see Barge Hotels