The history of the ceramics valley

Ceramic manufacturing is a thousand-year-old skill. However, ceramic production in Le Creusot-Montceau began in the 1850s with industrialization and the spread of the steam engine. The banks of the Canal du Centre boasted a number of assets conducive to the growth of this flourishing industry: clay-rich subsoil to supply the raw material, the arrival of the railroad in Le Creusot to transport production and the abundance of coal from the Blanzy coal mines in Montceau to fuel the kilns.

The Vallée de la Céramique is full of astonishing architectural surprises to delight the eye!

In Écuisses
The village of Écuisses is a veritable catalog of the period’s production: glazed tiles, finials and decorated tiles adorn the roofs and facades of the buildings along the canal. The famous Villa Perrusson is the finest expression of this unique know-how.

In Ciry-le-Noble
In Ciry-le-Noble, visit the Briqueterie (former Vairet-Baudot factory) and its 7,500 square meters of exhibition space. The former industrial site is now an interpretation center, immersing visitors in the atmosphere of the workshops of the time.

Between two seas
Dug between the Loire and Saône rivers to link the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean and transport goods, the Canal du Centre is a remarkable structure that bears witness to the history of regional planning, technology and industry in the entire region.

Over 200 years old, the canal crosses 43 km of the Creusot Montceau urban community. In total, the canal runs 112.5 km through the neighboring territories of Grand Chalon, Beaune and Grand Charolais, punctuated by 61 locks from Chalon-sur-Saône to Digoin.

Take advantage of your stay in Le Creusot Montceau to enjoy the freshness of walking, cycling or boating along the river, discovering its historical treasures, locks, towpaths and shady banks.

A structure built at the end of the 18th century
Step back in time to 1783. The first blow of the pickaxe to dig the Canal du Centre is given, the pharaonic project is launched. This was followed by 10 years of digging and masonry work by 1,000 pioneers armed with shovels, pickaxes and wheelbarrows.

Opened to navigation in 1793, the canal made a major contribution to the region’s burgeoning industrial activity. It was used to import raw materials and equipment, but above all to ship coal from Blanzy-Montceau and metal products from the forges at Le Creusot and Gueugnon. The Canal du Centre was also responsible for the establishment of some forty ceramic factories, tile factories and manufacturing workshops along its banks between Chalon-sur-Saône and Digoin, known as “La Vallée de la Céramique”.

In the footsteps of ceramics
Take a stroll along the riverbanks to explore its rich vestiges: the sumptuous Villa Perrusson, the ceramic houses with their elegant, multicolored ornamental facades and the Briqueterie will give you a sense of the atmosphere that once inhabited the area.

From shore to shore
Let yourself be seduced by the century-old charm of this historic canal as you stroll along the banks of the villages of Écuisses, Blanzy or Génelard, witnesses of this glorious past. Locks, historic bridges and footbridges, waterways lined with lush vegetation make the Canal du Centre an essential part of your stay.