Numbers and figures for the canal

Numbers and figures for the canal

Barge and boat size limits

The maximum limits of a boat are indicated below and in red ink on the drawing.

Boat size, maximum Feet Metric metres
Height above water 10'6" 3.20
Keel depth 5'11" 1.80 (1.50 maximum recommended)
Beam 16'6" 5.05
Length 126'3" 38.50

Canal navigation size limits

The speed limit on the canal is 6 kilometres per hour.

Opening times

You must respect the lock opening times, and it is illegal to operate the locks yourself, except for certain sections. I.e. If the lock keeper is not at the lock you must wait until he/she arrives before you can prepare the lock.

Lock operating hours Morning Afternoon
Weekday 08.30-12.00 13.00-18.00
Sunday / holidays 09.00-12.00 14.00-18.00
Except for the automatic locks. (Non-stop service)
canal lock

The photograph above shows an empty canal "pound" near Fleurey sur Ouche, you can see the silting of mud. So be careful when passing other boats and do not get too close to the edge.

Facts and figures

The total altitude change is:


Peak above
sea level

Low altitude
above sea level

The difference in altitude with the river

Average climb rate
Yonne side 375 metres 80 metres 299 metres 155 2 m/km
Saône side 375 metres 180 metres 199 metres 81 2.5m/km

The first barge to pass the tunnel at the summit of the canal was in December 1832.

The canal is 242 kilometres long; it is divided into 188 "pounds" (stretches of the canal between locks), there are 113 locks on the Yonne side and 76 on the Saône side. The canal was later modernized to the Freycinet standard, accommodating barges and boats up to 38.5 metres long and 5 metres wide, with a draft of 1.80 metres.
The average depth of water is now 2.10 metres but take this figure with a pinch of salt and consider that your draft should be under 1.6 metres as there is much silt and mud.

The longest "pound" is between locks 13-14 on the Yonne side and is 10.5 kilometres (the depth of water has been lowered and is very silted), and the shortest is 201 metres at lock 37 Yonne in the Marigny staircase.

The highest point of the canal is the "partition" at Pouilly en Auxois, it is 378 metres above sea level. The lowest point is at the junction with the River Yonne at 79 metres above sea level.

The deepest lock is 106-1075 on the Yonne side with a depth of 5 metres, whilst the average is 2.65 metres.

Lock number 106-107 used to be two locks but then made into a single lock.

There are three lock groups known as "échelles" (ladders) because of the very short distance between each one :

  • Marigny: Lock 16-55 Yonne, with 39 locks in 13.8 kilometres, average distances of 356 metres between each lock.
  • Pouilly-en-Auxois: Lock 1-7 Yonne, with 7 locks in 2 kilometres, an average of 333 metres
  • Vandenesse-en-Auxois: Lock 1-11 Saône, with 11 locks in 3.2 kilometres, average 320 metres.

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