About Burgundy: Franche Comté

Pamper your palate in the heart of magnificent Burgundy

Famous Burgundy well deserves its reputation for fine wines and gourmet cuisine. Lush vineyards hug rolling hills, and quiet villages invite you to linger on. Amidst a network of canals flows the majestic Saône River, the focal point of your Burgundy boat hire in France! This beautiful river ushers you into a world of pleasures, a realm that pleases the senses and soothes the soul.

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Map showing where the Burgundy: Franche Comté boating region is in France

Find your bearings...

Burgundy FC Region Map

 = Le Boat Base           = Canal           = Navigable river          = No navigation beyond this point

The perfect boating region for...

Wine Tasting

Did you know that more than 200 million bottles of Burgundy wine are sold every year? And we highly recommend you savour some on your wine-tasting cruise. Tour the Côte de Beaune vineyards and stop by the Maison des Vins in Chalon-sur-Saône for regional wines.

Nature Lovers

Burgundy’s rivers and canals are a rich habitat for wildlife. Along the Saône and Doubs you’ll find 42 species of mammals, 30 species of fish and 160 species of birds! Watch for bee-eaters, little ringed plovers, kingfishers, golden orioles, and even the common cuckoo.

Gastronomy

Dining in fine restaurants should be part of your Burgundy boating holiday.  Try a flan filled with Burgundy snails at Maison Lameloise in Chagny, a 3-star Michelin favourite. How about Idéal mâconnais, a cake made with meringue and butter cream filling? Or pain d’epices (ginger cake)?

Fishing

A fishing holiday in Burgundy means angling for carp, pike, zander, perch and bream. But the real lure for the passionate angler lurks in the depths of the Saône — Silurus glanis (giant catfish). Try the waters near Beaune.

Useful information

A bit of background

In Vioménil amidst the beautiful Vosges Mountains, the Saône River bubbles crystal clear, draining the hills and valleys along its run of 480 kilometres (298 miles) to the Rhône River at Lyon. A Burgundy map shows that it’s navigable from Corre all the way to Lyon, a beautiful stretch spanning 371 kilometres (230 miles). Your Burgundy boat hire in France covers some of the prettiest waterways, which include adjoining canals and major tributaries!

The river’s source is 396 metres (1,300 feet) above sea level, and the river makes most of its fall before Gray. From Gray all the way to the Rhône the drop is only 34 metres (111 feet). This means that the Saône is a very gentle river — slow, wide and peaceful below St. Jean-de-Losne on the Big Saône. It is narrower and more rural above Axonne on the Petit Saône.

Roman legionnaires cherished a sacred spring in Chalon-sur-Saône named after the Gallic river goddess Souconna. They called the entire river Sou-conna, and the name eventually stuck. However, the Romans also called the river Arar, which loosely translated means two rivers that fit together. The name arose from the confluence of the River Doubs with the Saône. Seneca described the Saône as “a hesitant river” that couldn’t make up its mind about which way to go!

The Petit Saône, Big Saône and the Seille River are all easy to navigate and suitable for beginners. The adjacent canals are also gentle and inviting.

The locks on the Seille River are self-operated. The locks on the Petit Saône are automatic and have lock keepers; others are self-operated. On the Big Saône, you’ll find three large automatic locks with lock keepers between St. Jean-de-Losne and Mâcon. On the Canal des Vosges, Canal de Bourgogne and the Canal du Centre, all locks are automatic.

Opening hours: Petit Saône locks operate from 09:00-19:00 (7:00 p.m). They are closed for lunch from 12:30-13:30 (1:30 p.m.). Big Saône locks operate from 06:00-21:00 (9:00 p.m.). No lunch closures.

Public holidays:

Fontenoy le Château: Closed 1st May & 1st November.

St Jean-de-Losne: Closed 1st May, 14th July & 1st November.

Branges: Closed 1st May, 14th July & 1st November.

There are numerous well-equipped moorings on the Seille River. Mooring on pontoons or in a harbour is compulsory on the Big Saône.

To find out how to get to each of our bases in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available at each base or nearby, click on the relevant base below:

  • Hire of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • Optional holiday extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour (by the litre in Scotland).
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Download our region guide

We've produced a handy PDF guide for this region to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway.

Download our region guide

Interactive map of Burgundy: Franche Comté

  = Le Boat base       = Point of interest

Great to see...

Must see
Square in Dijon

Seat of the Burgundy dukes, it is one of the most attractive cities of provincial France and the historic capital of Burgundy. Discover Dijon and its mediaeval centre full of history, interesting buildings and monuments. Climb the 315 steps of the Philippe le Bon Tower for a splendid view over the rooftops of the city's well-preserved medieval quarter.

Must see
Dole, Burgundy

A wonderful city. The port is situated in a very picturesque part of the old town, directly below the magnificent cathedral, less than 100 metres from the old quarter of tanneries. This part of Dole is made up of narrow cobbled streets, and very old houses. You can visit the house where the scientist Louis Pasteur was born, and numerous churches.

Must see
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs Vision Boat

This pretty and calm village is great for leisurely strolls. There are numerous houses just over the water that you can see when you cross the beautiful Floerew bridge. Verdun-sur-le-Doubs is a good place to stop and relax a bit.

Must see
Produce in a market

Along the Saone, influenced by the history of the Burgundian kingdoms, is Chalon-Sur-Saone. Discover its long and complex history and its beautiful monuments. The market place, with the Saint-Vincent cathedral, is magnificent to see. A truly beautiful city.

Fontenoy-le-château has an interesting history so be sure to visit the museum and numerous churches. Discover the old paved streets and alleyways where time seems to stand still, visit the Tower of the Lombards and maybe take a look at the château ruins.

A picturesque and welcoming town, Port-sur-saône has much to offer. Visit an old eighteenth century church, and discover the charming will of the sixteenth century. You'll also want to see the maginificent, eighteenth century bridge: 13 arches long, it spans across all of Saône, offering you wonderful landscape views.

With its tall tower houses, Scey-sur-saone welcomes you with many vestiges of the past. Visit the beautiful eighteenth century church, and walk along the banks of the Saint-Albin canal. The Scey-sur-saone castle cannot be toured but it remains a great sight to see.

For being so small, this town has a lot of history. Ray-sur-Saône has kept its soul over the centuries, as you will see. Discover the former wash basin of the village, and the beautiful Saint-Anne church. The expansive Ray-sur-Saône castle dominates the valley and is open for tours.

Gray is a bustling town, steeped in history with fascinating preserved buildings that you can visit. Most notably are the Eglise, and the fortified chateau of Baron St. Martin, which is now an art gallery & museum.

Sometimes referred to as the jewel of the Saone valley", or " the second capital of Haute-Saône", Auxonne was a strategically important fortified town in the middle ages. Nowadays, it is a market town.

Saint-Jean-De-Losne has seen numerous wars during the last few centuries, and was named "Belle-Defense" by the king. There are several downtown monuments about this. Walking through the streets, or over a beautiful bridge, you can also catch sight of Saint-Jean-Baptiste's church.

Besançon has many gems including its vast parks, wide boulevards and the Battant Quarter which was originally settled by wine-makers. You'll see some beautiful architecture here including seventeenth century facades fronted by wrought-iron balconies. The Citadel was built by the great military architect, Vauban, and offers magnificent views over the city and the river Doubs.

A scenic town nestled next to a canal, Seurre is known for being the native village of the famous French writer, Bossuet. His house can still be visited and has been transformed into a little museum. In Seurre, you can enjoy a local popular dish, the pôchouse serruoise, made from fish.

Chagny is a pretty town, with plenty of restaurants, including the famous Lameloise. Among the numerous shops, the 18th century apothecary is always interesting. If you have time, visit the contemporary art gallery.

Santenay is one of the villages that played host to the famous Burgundy duke, Phillipe le Hardi. His castle is still there and can be toured. There are also vineyards and a casino in this exciting and pretty town.

Welcome to Tournus, a wonderful city filled with medieval monuments and vestiges. Here, you will have the opportunity to discover the beautiful Saint-Philibert church, with its high medieval tower covered in green ivy. The well-preserved abbey palace is also wonderful to observe and a great place to go for a walk.

Cuisery is one of the four famous Book Villages of France. There are more than a dozen book shops selling collectors' items in gravure, lithography, illuminated text, early comics, etc. You will surely enjoy this cultural visit. The Church of Notre Dame is also pleasant to visit.

Welcome to Branges, a calm and peaceful town. Take the opportunity to cycle along the canal banks, and explore the area. Downtown, you can have a drink on the terrace of a French village bar.

Louhans is a pretty city where you can enjoy walking along the beautiful arcades, where there are many shops and beautiful old buildings to see. Church Saint-Pierre, with its burgundian roof, is beautiful. Try the local speciality chicken, called Poulet de Bresse.

Itinerary suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You dont have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.

Branges RETURN via Tournus

Branges
Cuisery
Tournus
Branges

10 hr(s) of cruising

88km 6 lock(s) 3 nights

Branges RETURN via Tournus

The boat moves gently on the River Seille toward beautiful Tournus, where you plan to stop for the night, dine in a café and explore. A Burgundy boat hire in France turns out to be exactly what you envisioned, a unique and relaxing way to see mediaeval cathedrals and small towns amidst a pastoral paradise of vineyards and forests.

10 hr(s) of cruising

88km 6 lock(s) 3 nights

Branges RETURN via Mâcon & Chalon-sur-Saône

Branges
Cuisery
Tournus
Chalon-sur-Saône
Branges

26 hr(s) of cruising

192km 8 lock(s) 7 nights

Branges RETURN via Mâcon & Chalon-sur-Saône

France barge holidays in the Maconnais-Beaujolais wine region of Macon indulge your palate with the local white wines. As you approach the city, which dates back 2,000 years, you can just taste the light and dry wine crafted from chardonnay and pinot blanc grapes. Another local favourite is Macon supérieur, a white wine with higher alcohol content. You’re up for that too!

26 hr(s) of cruising

192km 8 lock(s) 7 nights

Branges to Saint-Jean-de-Losne

Branges
Cuisery
Tournus
Chalon-sur-Saône
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Seurre
St. Jean-de-Losne

20 hr(s) of cruising

144km 6 lock(s) 4 nights

Branges to Saint-Jean-de-Losne

The Jura wine region lies off the stern as you head out from Branges on the River Seille at the start of your Burgundy boat hire in France. As you travel, the magnificent vineyards of the Mâconnais and Chalonnais spread out before you! Cycling along the towpaths into Roman villages and larger towns brings you close to land and its people. Relax with wine at a pretty café!

20 hr(s) of cruising

144km 6 lock(s) 4 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château RETURN via Ormoy

Fontenoy-le-Château
Fontenoy-le-Château

12 hr(s) of cruising

52km 22 lock(s) 3 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château RETURN via Ormoy

You’ve discovered that boating in France offers you many pleasures! You’re travelling down the Canal des Vosges and meeting up with the River Saône, and all the way Burgundy’s stunning beauty surrounds you! After cruising awhile, you stop in Corre to eat at a waterside café and to explore the museum, and then it’s off again to Port-sur-Saône for a spot of cycling and tennis!

12 hr(s) of cruising

52km 22 lock(s) 3 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château RETURN via Ray-sur-Saône

Fontenoy-le-Château
Port-sur-Saône
Scey-sur-Saône
Ray-sur-Saône
Fontenoy-le-Château

38 hr(s) of cruising

208km 52 lock(s) 7 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château RETURN via Ray-sur-Saône

Varied and unique, France barge holidays in the heart of Burgundy have proven you made the right choice for a getaway! You leave the pretty town of Fontenoy-le-Châteaux and head out on the Canal des Vosges. You find yourself amidst beautiful scenery punctuated with pretty villages, each seeming to have its own palatial château! Relax and do some fishing on the River Saône!

38 hr(s) of cruising

208km 52 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne to Fontenoy-le-Château

St. Jean-de-Losne
Auxonne
Gray
Ray-sur-Saône
Scey-sur-Saône
Port-sur-Saône
St. Jean-de-Losne

32 hr(s) of cruising

210km 32 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne to Fontenoy-le-Château

You’re a fan of history, and in this part of Burgundy you can’t resist poking about the museum honouring Napoleon Bonaparte in Auxonne. He attended artillery school in this lovely city in 1788, prepping for his future escapades. As you head north, you stop in the old trading port of Gray for a bite to eat — beef bourgignon or smoked sausage with a glass of local Chassagne-Montrachet!

32 hr(s) of cruising

210km 32 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Gray

St. Jean-de-Losne
Auxonne
Gray
St. Jean-de-Losne

16 hr(s) of cruising

129km 10 lock(s) 3 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Gray

Billed as France’s largest centre for inland boating, the busy and picturesque town of St. Jean-de-Losne is situated at the junction of the Burgundy Canal and the River Saône. Museums, art galleries, restaurants, and modern facilities make this an ideal place to start your Burgundy boat hire in France! Gray and Auxonne invite you to linger!

Notes: The Heuilley lock will be on maintenance in April 2018. Therefore the town of Gray cannot be reached via the waterways from Saint Jean de Losne during that period.

16 hr(s) of cruising

129km 10 lock(s) 3 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Louhans

St. Jean-de-Losne
Seurre
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Chalon-sur-Saône
Tournus
Cuisery
Branges
St. Jean-de-Losne

37 hr(s) of cruising

293km 14 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Louhans

The call of vendors in the weekly market every Monday in Louhans reminds you that the ritual has gone on since medieval times. You bargain with merchants, and buy a baguette, some cheese and a bottle of wine. Then you head out on the River Seille. France barge holidays in Burgundy combine rural charm with watersports, shopping and fine dining!

37 hr(s) of cruising

293km 14 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Besançon

St. Jean-de-Losne
Dole
Besançon
St. Jean-de-Losne

37 hr(s) of cruising

194km 52 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Besançon

On a Pasteur Cruise boat hire in Burgundy, you depart from the bustling port of St. Jean-de-Losne with its cobblestone streets and impressive architecture. You make your way to the old port of Dole, birthplace of Louis Pasteur, and you stroll the beautiful parks and wide boulevards of Besançon, where the majestic Citadel dominates the skyline.

37 hr(s) of cruising

194km 52 lock(s) 7 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château to Branges

Fontenoy-le-Château
Port-sur-Saône
Scey-sur-Saône
Ray-sur-Saône
Gray
Auxonne
Saint-Jean-de-Losne
Seurre
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Chalon-sur-Saône
Tournus
Cuisery
Branges

50 hr(s) of cruising

319km 38 lock(s) 10 nights

Fontenoy-le-Château to Branges

Following the River Saône, you will enjoy a picturesque cruising in a land of natural beauty, fine wines and gourmet cuisine. Discover the splendid châteaux near Scey-sur-Saône, visit the city of Châlon-sur-Saône and taste fine wines from the Côte de Beaune’s premier cru vineyards nearby, and stop for an historic walk in the roman town of Tournus or in the military town of Auxonne.

50 hr(s) of cruising

319km 38 lock(s) 10 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Dole

St. Jean-de-Losne
Dole
St. Jean-de-Losne

16 hr(s) of cruising

48km 18 lock(s) 4 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Dole

From Saint Jean de Losne, follow the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, immerge yourself in a part of the history of France! Discover the medieval city of Dôle and its listed monuments like the Louis Pasteur Museum. Along your way, taste the local specialties: you are nearby world famous vineyards of Burgundy and of the Jura!

16 hr(s) of cruising

48km 18 lock(s) 4 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Chagny

St. Jean-de-Losne
Seurre
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Chalon-sur-Saône
Chagny
St. Jean-de-Losne

26 hr(s) of cruising

154km 28 lock(s) 7 nights

Saint-Jean-de-Losne RETURN via Chagny

Follow down the River Saône up to the dynamic city of Châlon-sur-Saône then turn to the Canal du centre to reach the town of Chagny. You are now between 2 of the most famous vineyards of the World, the Mâconnais and the Côte de Beaune! Take the most of these fine wines by tasting them with some the local cheeses and gourmet cuisine! Just relax and make the most of the patrimoine and gastronomy of Burgundy!

26 hr(s) of cruising

154km 28 lock(s) 7 nights
Added on 10 August 2018

Antoon Hollants van Loocke said

The arrival and departure services were excellent. Amazing holiday thanks to le boat. we had a very comfortable and clean cruiser which performed admirably and was easy to handle.
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St. Jean-de-Losne - St. Jean-de-Losne
Tango
Added on 22 July 2018

Andrew Wholey said

The Horizon boat itself exceeded expectations and the team at our point of embarkation were very efficient, knowledgeable and friendly. This was our second such holiday with Le Boat and I am fairly sure that there will be a third! Total relaxation without the boredom of just lying on a beach - constantly changing scenery and one's own flexible itinerary.
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Branges - Branges
Horizon 1
Added on 07 July 2018

Andrew Dott said

The quality of service was excellent, the boat was in beautiful condition, and the cruise to upper burgundy was spectacular The countryside is beautiful the water was calm and our grandchildren had a good time
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St. Jean-de-Losne - Fontenoy-le-Château
Magnifique
Added on 30 June 2018

Paula Wade said

the boat was excellent and the whole Le Boat experience from start to end was spot on . Reception staff very helpful. did it last year with a different company and although we all had a great time the boat was poor compared to le boat . it was the Mystique A . we also booked hire bikes which we used many times. Will definitely get this boat again . great value superb scenery with lots of places to stop off
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Dear Mrs Wade,
Thanks for leaving your feedback, it is much appreciated. We are delighted to learn you enjoyed your holiday with us and were satisfied with your boat and the customer service you received. Your positive comments have been forwarded to the base team.
We hope to welcome you on board with us again soon.
Best wishes, The Le Boat team.
St. Jean-de-Losne - Branges
Royal Mystique A
Added on 16 May 2018

Gary Martin said

The boat was in good condition with all the facilities needed for a perfect, romantic getaway. We enjoyed the experience very much. Friendly, efficient and professional
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St. Jean-de-Losne - Fontenoy-le-Château
Clipper
Added on 22 April 2018

John Fitzgerald said

The woman that was attending to us was wonderful. She was full of excellent information. She was also alone and trying to deal with other charterers and was overwhelmed. She needs some help!!!!! Very relaxing. Will do it again.
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St. Jean-de-Losne - St. Jean-de-Losne
Clipper
Added on 30 September 2017

Kathy Benage said

They were very helpful we had a support post for the Bimini that bent when we lowered the top, it had been heated and obviously repaired and I appreciated that they didn't make an issue out of it, I felt they were honest Pretty little town we enjoyed it
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Branges - St. Jean-de-Losne
Royal Mystique A
Added on 23 September 2017

Buz Humphery said

Very good. The only reason it does not get a five star is: 1. After payment of the full reservation fee, the Waterways Guide should be sent to the customer, price of the guide should be included. 2. We had one small window water leak issue we emailed about enroute, and got no response. 3. The starter pack of groceries should afford the customer to choose what items are wanted. 4. At the end of the cruise, the check out procedure, most importantly, the fuel charge issue, should be made more clear. The boat, weather, and route were very good. A little rain, but not much.
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St. Jean-de-Losne - Branges
Calypso
Added on 19 August 2017

Poul Rossing said

Venlig og professionel service. Har allerede anbefalet Le Boat til venner og bekendte Også her meget imødekommende og kompetent personale, der lyttede til os og vore ønsker
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St. Jean-de-Losne - St. Jean-de-Losne
Grand Classique
Added on 19 August 2017

Fred Robinson said

Like alway a friendly welcome, the boat was clean,fuelled and ready to go. Beautiful location in a pleasant town, easy cruising with no problems
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Dear Mr Robinson,
Thank you for sharing your feedback. We are delighted to learn you enjoyed your cruise with us in Burgundy. We would love to welcome you on board with us again soon.
Best wishes, The Le Boat team
St. Jean-de-Losne - St. Jean-de-Losne
Salsa A