Cycling in Burgundy: A Dream Ride Along the Canal du Centre

Less than a 20 minute train ride from the beautiful village of Beaune is a cyclist’s dream, a car-free path along one of Burgundy’s beautiful canals.  I accessed the pathway from the train station at Chagny and in less than 10 minutes, I was in heaven.

Greenway sign–no cars allowed
View from the cycle path entryway
This is biking heaven: no cars, beautiful scenery
Signs make travel along the Canal easy

Life doesn’t get much better than bicycling along a gorgeous French canal on a bright, sunny summer day!  The landscape and the peacefulness of the canal were overwhelming.  In just moments, everything slowed down as I adapted to the pace of my surroundings.  Since this is August, traffic on the canal was steady, and every now and then a barge floated by, creating lots of opportunities for “bon jour” greetings.

Luxury houseboat docked for lunch
While we had a small picnic along the canal

I am amazed at how powerful the words “bon jour” are in France, and along the Canal du Centre is no exception.  There is a sense of comraderie among cyclists, perhaps a sense of respect for the physical effort, whether large or small.  Water and lunch breaks provide the perfect opportunity to share stories, ask route questions, or just say hi.  Somehow the experience brings back a sense of an old fashioned life, when people actually communicated with each other.  For me, this ride was a perfect slow travel adventure.

View of the Santenay vineyards from the bike path

The car-free Canal du Centre is perfect for all ages, all skill levels and families.  If you take the pathway from Chagny, as I did, it is 36km roundtrip to Saint-Leger-sur-Dheune.  If you begin the route in Chalon sur Saone, the path is 34km one way.  The route is perfectly marked and there are restaurants and cafes along the way.

This section of the Canal du Centre is part of the extensive bike system that is being developed by the Southern Burgundy Department of Tourism.  You can access information on this and other trails in the area at Burgundy By Bike.

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