10 great ways to enjoy Brittany’s canals

From north to south, and from east to west, Brittany is covered by a network of over 600 km of canals. Travelling by narrow boat or kayak, or even on foot or by bike along the towpath, you'll discover locks, protected areas of natural beauty, 'Petites Cités de Caractère' (small towns of character) and picturesque châteaux.

Picture 1 10 great ways to enjoy Brittany’s canals Picture 2 10 great ways to enjoy Brittany’s canals Picture 3 10 great ways to enjoy Brittany’s canals

Unmissable sights

From Nantes to Brest and from St Malo to Arzal, the canals of Brittany have many surprises in store. You'll discover remarkable hydraulic engineering works, such as the flight of locks between Rohan and Pontivy (no fewer than 54 locks in the space of 20 km), the double lock at Coat Natous and the 11 locks in Hédé. Equally impressive is the rich architectural heritage reflected in the waters at Josselin and Malestroit, 'la Perle de l'Oust' (thePearlof the River Oust).        

To find out more: Canaux de Bretagne

Entertainment by the water

From spring to autumn, many events take place which add life to the canals. From the 'Avis de Temps Fort' street theatre in May in Port-Louis to the 24-hour kayak festival in June in Inzinzac-Lochrist, not forgetting the 'Art in the Chapels' exhibitions which run from July to September, the sound and light show at the Abbaye de Bon Repos in August, jazz by the locks in Hédé in September, and the arts festival 'Les Escales au Val d'Ille' in Guipel... there are so many unmissable events taking place!

Narrow Boat Cruises

To get a completely different view of the canals, explore them in a narrow boat. There's no need to have experience and neither do you require a licence to cruise along at an average speed of 8 km/h. Whether on a family outing or with a group of friends, you'll have a perfect view of the flora and fauna all along the banks of the canals, and enjoy a bit of exercise going through the locks.

Picnic time for everyone

Get out your checked tablecloths and picnic baskets! Every year, during the first weekend of August, a huge picnic is organised at over 20 sites along Brittany's canals. Arrive by 12 noon at one of the beautiful rural settings and enjoy an aperitif provided by the participating villages. Certain sites also provide entertainment.
To find out more: A dimanche au canal

'Terrasses d'une rive à l'autre':  enjoy a drink with your feet in the water.

To make the most of the wonderful views, take a seat on a canal-side terrasse. Located in the most beautiful parts of Brittany's waterways, these bars and restaurants offer all the peace and tranquillity of the canal. Whether you're looking for a relaxed café or a gourmet meal, there's something for everyone, with wonderful scenery that you'll never grow tired of.
To find out more: les Terrasses d'une rive à l'autre

Audio Tour 'Canal Voices'

Time to grab your MP3 player! All along the Nantes to Brest canal and the river Blavet, you can listen to locals telling the story of Brittany's waterways. People who live by the river, lockkeepers, restaurant owners and people working in the leisure industry – hear from the people who spend their daily lives on or by the canal, as they tell their fascinating stories to a background of water and birdsong. Close your eyes and let the countryside take over…
To find out more: www.canauxdebretagne.org 'La Balade Sonore'

Freshwater Fishing

Just as on the coast, inland Brittany has great fishing. Its rivers contain a huge number of trout, pike and salmon (no fewer than 35 species of fish!), making it a hotspot for angling. For an unforgettable experience, try your hand at fly fishing with some of the local experts.
To find out more: Learn fly fishing with Philippe

Green ways: breathing new life into tow paths 

Tow paths were built initially so that horses could pull the barges and boats which travelled the canals. Now they've been made into 'Voies vertes', or green ways, for the enjoyment of walkers and cyclists. The gentle gradients make these paths ideal for great family days out.
To find out more: Green ways

'Au Pont du Rock' festival in Malestroit

The hot ticket at the end of July for festival-goers, the 'Au Pont du Rock' music festival makes Malestroit and the canal shake to the sound of alternative music. Each year, 'la Perle de l'Oust' (the Pearl of the River Oust), as the village is known, welcomes thousands of riff-lovers and fans of overdrive and distortion. The 100% rock line-up has been attracting fans for over 20 years and is Brittany’s oldest summer rock festival.
To find out more: Au Pont du Rock

White-water paddle sports

There's nothing like a trip in a kayak or a canoe to get to know the canal! Armed with a paddle, let yourself go with the flow. There’s excitement in store too on Brittany’s 600 km of waterways, particularly at well-known spots such as the water slides in Glomel, the white-water park in Inzinzac-Lochrist and at Saint-Grégoire on the Ille-et-Rance canal.
To find out more: Whitewater rafting

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