Power to the people
Joining the Nantes-Brest Canal at its western and eastern ends, the 7 miles (12km)-long Lac de Guerlédan was created in the 1920s at the same time as the dam, which provides hydro-electricity for the region; visit the Musée de l’Electricité at Saint-Aignan (mid-June to mid-Sept) to find out about its history. A good time to visit Guerlédan is in mid-August when the Fête du Lac takes place – a day-long festival featuring markets, classic cars, water-based activities, fireworks and the all-important Fest-Noz.
The lake’s main village is Beau Rivage on the north bank. With its choice of accommodation, restaurants, beaches and moorings, this is a good base to explore the surrounding area – why not do a tour of the lake on horseback, on foot or by bike? In Beau Rivage you’ll also be able to hire kayaks, pedalos or try your hand at water-skiing. Less active sorts can take life at a more leisurely pace on a boat trip.
South of the lake is the forest of Quénécan, an area known as ‘Swiss Brittany’, which covers about 11 square miles. The area is accessible to walkers from March to October via the GR37 and GR 341 footpaths; twitchers will be interested to learn that more than 70 species of birds winter here.
In the heart of the forest are Les Forges des Salles, an important site for iron and steel making in the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can see the workers’ cottages, the manager’s house and the forges in this self-contained village that once had 150 inhabitants.
Have a rest
At the far west of the lake are the attractive remains of the 12th-century Cistercian Abbaye de Bon-Repos (good rest). There are daily guided tours in English in July and August, a popular farmers’ market on Sunday mornings and regular exhibitions by contemporary artists.