Canals and rivers
Rivers, lakes and canals
The Odet, Finistériens claim, is the prettiest river in France. It is certainly typical of many a merry, boulder-strewn Breton waterway, with enchanting wooded banks and the grounds of fine houses sloping elegantly down to the water’s edge. A couple of major canals were created for commerce in the 19th century; they’re now exploited for tourism. Lakes are dotted around the region.
Travelling along rivers is a great way of exploring inland Brittany. Out east, the Couesnon, Ille and Vilaine form a kind of informal old Breton border to follow. In the northeast, the Rance is the mightiest force, though stopped by a bold tidal dam. To enjoy rural Côtes d’Armor, track the Trieux, Jaudy or Léguer, competing in prettiness. Out west, Elorn and Aulne are rivals for your attention. In western Morbihan, it’s the Scorff and Blavet that battle it out, the broad Etel also offering gorgeous stops. In central Morbihan, the Auray and Oust count among the prettiest in Brittany too. You can take a boat trip along certain rivers, such as the Odet or Vilaine.
Larking about on lakes
Water is never far away, even in central Brittany, with its lakes as well as its rivers. The grandest, most beautiful is the Lac de Guerlédan. Created when a hydroelectric dam was built on the Blavet, a charming resort has grown up on each side, while gorgeous historic sights lie nearby. Other famous lakes include those in Paimpont Forest, associated with Arthurian legend. Fishing is popular in Brittany; contact tourist offices about permits.
The major Breton canal connects Nantes and Brest, an engineering achievement from Napoleonic times, creating a major waterway avoiding the sea. It only served its commercial purpose a few years, but now this beautiful canal is serving tourists, both on boats and towpaths. The Canal de l’Ille et Rance, connecting Rennes with St-Malo, has also been made tourist-friendly.