©La vallee de la Vilaine|Noé C. photography

Navigate through a secret Brittany

From the Channel to the Atlantic via the canals

Put on your captain’s cap and sail tranquilly from Saint-Malo to Belle-Ile-en Mer. As you travel on the Rance and the Vilaine, Brittany reveals a thousand and one facets. Passing through locks, little river ports, wooded valleys… Let yourself be carried along!

In the blink of an eye

1. Travel down the Rance valley


Ready to take the helm? Departing from the privateer city, you’ll first navigate in a maritime atmosphere until the Rance dam. Starboard, admire the pretty Belle Epoque villas in Dinard. Is the light green? Go through the lock to travel down the Rance estuary. You’ll gently travel through an unspoilt valley, full of headlands, bays and small river ports. Stop in Saint-Suliac, a former spot for fishermen, listed one of the “most beautiful villages in France”.  Do you need to stretch your legs? Several walking trails start in Ploüer-sur-Rance port. The Prat tide mill, which you can glimpse just before Vicomté-sur-Rance, is the only one on the Rance. At Châtelier lock, the basin becomes a canal, and Dinan is not far!

2. Navigate on the canal, at the pace of the locks


From the top of Dinan viaduct, the view over the port is wonderful. Your vessel awaits. Head towards the Breton capital: 90 km through 48 locks! Cross the lush area of Romantic Brittany, the birthplace of writer Châteaubriand. Looking for a good idea? Stop to visit Combourg castle, where he was born! Then, head to Hédé-Bazouges and its flight of locks: 11 locks over 2 km. The view of the canal is exceptional! Discover its history at Maison du Canal. Hire a bike from the “L’Ille Flottante” lock keeper’s house to cycle around Bazouges lake. If you’re quiet, you might see the little egret! On the way, the landscape changes, with wooded water gaps making way for bocage landscapes… In Rennes, moor up on Quai Saint-Cyr. The friendly Mail François Mitterrand taverns are very close!

Where to rent your boat:

3. Navigate on the meanders of the Vilaine


The landscape varies along the Vilaine, between Rennes and Redon, with bocage hills, schist cliffs, marshy plains, etc. You’ll now leave the capital of Brittany, accompanied by joggers on the towpath. At Moulière lock, admire the view of one of the loveliest mills on the river. Pass under the impressive Corbinières viaduct in pink sandstone. Here, the Vilaine has hollowed out a small canyon with green and wooded slopes… It’s magical! Redon, with docks lined with shipowners’ houses, is in sight: you’re at the confluence of the Vilaine and the Oust. Do you want to keep going? Continue on the Oust to Île-aux-Pies and swap your boat for a canoe or SUP. Or, carry on to La Gacilly on the Aff. Did you see the colourful and elusive birds? Kingfishers!

4. Go from Argoat to Armor!

Redon – Belle-Île-en-Mer

From the Vilaine to the ocean, discover two very different sides of Brittany. First step: Foleux, a small maritime port… in the countryside! You’ll then travel in a fjord-like décor, near Roche-Bernard and to the Arzal dam. It marks the border between the river and the sea. Visit it to discover how the salt water is held back. Look at the fish ladder too. A tip? Stop on the Pénerf peninsula to enjoy a dozen oysters. You’ll love the authenticity of the site. It’s time to take to the sea… Follow Suscinio cove, with a view of the castle, and head towards the islands of Hoedic and Houat: two natural gems. The Vauban citadel is impressive as you arrive at Palais in Belle-Ile-en-Mer. You can also moor up in the colourful Sauzon port, which used to be occupied by Vikings!

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Official website of tourism in Brittany