After leaving the Roman town of Autun, we headed back north via the Burgundy Canal, with the aim of tracing it to its starting point at Migennes. Following the Roman theme our first stop was at Venarey Les Laumes,adjacent to Alise Sainte Reine which is below Mount Auxois and the alleged site of the battle of Alesia.
In 52BC Julius Caesar with the aid of elaborate encircling fortifications besieged a Gaul army, under the celebrated Vercingetorix ,four times larger than his own. The end result, amidst much brutality, as is common with the Roman army is that the Gauls came second. Vercingetorix surrendered not before evicting his women and children who became entrapped between the two armies and were left to starve. Vercingetorix was taken back to Rome, paraded as the defefeated enemy before being executed 5 years later.
There is a museum which also displays an example of the considerable formidable fortifications but there is a snag. There is some dispute whether this is the actual site of the battle, there is a challenger, Chaux des Crotenay in the Jura and amidst the competing claims, there are accusations of skulduggery and the fact that the French have spent a lot of money on the museum, has nothing to do with the fact that Alise has the support of the authorities, as the official site, ever since Napoleon 3rd in 1860 who commissioned a massive statue of Vercingetorix.
Further details of the competing claims can be found at:
Anyway our main aim was to cycle the canal and chill out. We stayed at the excellent, appropriately named Camping Municipal Alesia which was a pleasant site with spacious pitches and many surrounded by hedges. It was very clean and as normal very reasonably priced.
The canal is a very short ride from the site and in one direction south to Pouilly en Auxois. It is well surfaced and is a steady climb and we passed 45 locks in about 15 miles. No problem for boat owners here, not that there were many, as the locks are operated by lock keepers who beetle up and down the towpath on their mopeds covering the locks that they are responsible for. Many lock keepers also appear to compete with each other to see who has either the best gardens or in some cases the most bizarre.