Nestling under the vineyards of the Côte St Jacques, Joigny is proud of its many fine churches, houses with carved wood decoration, and above all its gastronomy. Close to the Canal de Bourgogne and the Canal du Nivernais, Joigny is the ideal location to discover Burgundy. Linking the Yonne to the Saône, the Canal de Bourgogne, started in 1775 and finished in 1834, takes you by ways sometimes secret, sometimes spectacular, to the heart of the Renaissance. At that priod the Duchy of Burgundy vied in magnificence with the Kingdom of France. Here, with ancient poplar trees, their leaves shimmering and atremble, and buildings ranging from abbeys to fortified framhouses, the works of man and nature celebrate their triumphant union. Tie up close to the superb aqueduct at St Florentin and climb up to its Church to admire the magnificent stained glass. At Tonnerre the Fosse Dionne pool surrounded by ancient houses, still provides a water supply to the town. Magnificent and splendidly-furnished Renaissance chateaux such as Tanlay and Ancy le Franc punctuate your cruise.
The marvellous hig-vaulted Abbey of Fontenay, tucked away in a secluded valley, is a short bike ride away. Near Venarey Les Laumes at the village of Alise Sainte Reine you'll want to visit the site of the Gaulish fortress of Alesia where Vercingétorix surrendered to Caesar after a two month siege. The wide and gently winding valley of the Yonne séparâtes the orchards of the Puisaye from the Othe forest; its wooded uplands, cleared in part by the medieval abbeys in order to make way for crops and apple orchards, accompany you as you voyage to Villeneuve sur Yonne within its fortified gates and to Sens, ist 16th century half-timbered houses dominated by the superb cathedral of St Etienne.
Upstream on the Yonne from Joigny lies Auxerre and the golden roofs of its elegant town houses. The town owes its prosperity over the years to the vineyards of Chablis and the Auxerrois. The Canal du Nivernais passes through many wine-producing villages such as Irancy, perhaps the most picturesque of all with its vines and cherry orchards, and nearby Vézelay, starting point of the pilgrimage to Compostella. Here good food, good restaurants and fine architecture are complemented by the setting of vineyards, orchards and forest.