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The Nivernais Canal – one of the most beautiful canals in Europe

A history of the Nivernais Canal

The original idea of creating what is now the Nivernais Canal dates back to the times of Henry IV. In total it took almost 60 years to construct between 1784 and 1841.
Its original purpose was for transporting logs from Clamecy to Paris – playing an important role in supplying the city with firewood. The Nivernais Canal soon became an important transport route and majorly contributed to the economic development of Burgundy (in particular the areas of Yonne and Nièvre) until the arrival of the railways in the nineteenth century.

Map of the Nivernais Canal (source:



Canal boat holidays on the Nivernais Canal

Nowadays the Nivernais Canal is used purely for leisure and tourism pastimes and activities, making it ideal for canal boat holidays on the Nivernais Canal! No previous boating experience is needed.
Many people, us included, consider it as one of the most beautiful waterways in Europe – surrounded not only by beautiful countryside and interesting places to visit but also remarkable and cleverly designed arches, tunnels, locks and bridges.
Enjoy the slow pace of life on the water and enjoy canal boat holidays with Nicols - explore the treasures found along the Nivernais Canal’s 174km length and 116 locks!

Canal holidays in Nivernais© A.Doire



Step into Auxerre – a city of art and history

The starting point of the Nivernais Canals, Auxerre is a town steeped in art and history. Take time to stroll through the cobbled streets, exploring its religious heritage such as the gothic and elegant St Etienne Cathedral or the Abbey of St Germain which dates back over 1,000 years. The highlight here is ancient tombs decorated with what is thought to be the oldest murals in France.

View of Auxerre © OT Auxerre



Enjoy the fine wines of Auxerrois

From Auxerre, the Nivernais canal runs right through many of the vineyards of the Auxerrois region. Moor up and listen while winemakers share their passion – visit renowned wine villages such as Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, Coulanges-la-Vineuse and Irancy.
Do not miss a visit to Les Caves de Bailly Lapierre in Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, which were originally a mushroom growing house before being transformed into the huge wine cellars found today.

Les Caves de Bailly – Crémant de Bourgogne © OT Auxerre


The Nivernais Canal – best enjoyed from a NICOLS canal boat!

No previous boating experience is needed for canal boat holidays on the Nivernais Canal. You can hire a canal boat from the Nicols base at Brienon located at the northern most end of the Burgundy Canal. The base here is in the perfect position – at the crossroads of three waterways: the Nivernais Canal, the Burgundy Canal and the Yonne river.

If you would prefer to explore the southern section of the Nivernais Canal, finding treasures such as Châtillon en Bazois or Cercy-la-Tour then we’d suggest you hire a canal boat from the Nicols base at Plagny near Nevers. After a few kilometres navigation on the Canal Latéral à la Loire you’ll arrive at Decize and the Nivernais Canal.


The pages below give full information on the canal boat holidays available from each base with suggestions on cruising itineraries for all durations from long weekends or a short break to longer one and two week canal boat holidays.


See all cruise from Brienon

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