Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Veneray and Alesia, June 14 and 15

We made good progress up the 9 locks and 13 k to Veneray les Laumes. There were a couple of reasons for stopping here. One was to visit the statue of the last Gaulish king, VercengĂ©torix, and Alesia, the site of the decisive battle where Julius Caesar defeated the Gauls in 52 BC, “ending their independence and replacing their shining culture with Latin decadence.” according to our canal guide book. Not much editorializing there! More info on the battle here.
The other was to prepare ourselves for the climb to the summit of the Canal de Bourgogne, 56 locks in 30 kilometers.
We found  nice place to moor away from the hire boat basin but secure enough that we didn’t have to worry about the wash from the hotel barge that was going to pass us after we tied up. Veneray is where they turn around to head back down the canal to Tanlay. We walked into the tourist office to get maps and details and were told the climb to the statue was very steep. 
Saturday morning we unloaded the bikes and headed for the MuséoParc Alesia. Passing the futuristic museum building we got to the bottom of the hill, the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, named after an early Christian martyr, locked the bikes and headed up the hill on foot.

It was a very steep hill! We left the bicycles by the roundabout.
That round building just right of center is the Museum hq.

In the mid 1800’s, after archeologists had excavated the battle site and a nearby Roman town, Napoleon decided that a statue to the defeated Gaulish king should be erected. After a competition, the statue was constructed (some say the ancient Gaulish king bears a striking resemblance to the French emperor!), transported from Paris and erected on a pedestal on a hill overlooking the valley. Made of hollow bronze, it had to be taken down and reconstructed in the 1980’s but now it stands proudly on it’s pedestal. Unfortunately, the trees have grown up all around the hill and the statue can’t be seen until you are right at it’s feet and there is no view from the hill. More on the statue.

Just a few minutes walk across the countryside are the ruins of a Roman town that, according to archeologists, was home to several thousand citizens in the early AD’s. Foundations have been uncovered and streets and alleys revealed. 
This house had a basement where they kept big storage jars, assumed to be for oil.

The best preserved remaining buildings belonged to the metal workers and included their workshop.

There is a platform built above the central part of the village and from left to right is the theater, the temple and forum and the metal workers neighborhood in the rear.

After lunch at the museum building we cycled back to the boat to prepare for the next three days climb to the top.


  1. Nice to have a video too. Noted for next year, hopefully.

  2. Love the bit about the ‘shining’ Gaulish culture :)
    I don’t blame you for walking up that hill!


All of a sudden I'm getting comment spam. I'll have to use Captcha until it gets under control. Sorry...