The western corner of France has kilometres of waterways devoted purely to pleasure cruising. It boasts one of the best-equipped river and canal networks in France with many ports and locks operated by lock-keepers. Rennes is the worthy capital of Brittany, with grand manor houses and imposing government buildings. The 12th century turreted chateau at Josselin, one of the area’s landmarks, overlooks the River Oust. Traditionally costumed locals, half-timbered houses, turreted castles, tasty crepes and Guenrouet cider all showcase the distinctive Breton culture. Many towns and villages display the coveted “ville fleurie” award for their floral displays and gardens. ↓ click on images to open gallery
Bridges, church spires, wooden houses and medieval towns can be seen from the beautiful Nantes to Brest Canal or along the tree-lined River Vilaine. This peaceful river is a delight to travel as it meanders from Dinan through Messac to Redon. Boaters use the Quiheix Locks to reach the River Erdre, famous for its one hundred castles that once lined the route to the city of Nantes. The River Blavet flows from central Brittany to the coast at Lorient while the large and winding River Charente runs through ancient vineyards and is regulated by 21 locks. Further east, Anjou boasts many scenic waterways including the River Sarthe. This calm waterway has few locks and is ideal for the novice. It has many points of interest including castles and riverside villages as it transports visitors towards Le Mans with its delightful old quarter. The fortress at Angers, home of Cointreau liqueur, marks where the River Sarthe joins the River Mayenne which flows to the lovely town of Laval with its old castle and basilica.
Other French Waterway Regions
A comprehensive and well-illustrated guide to the 365km Nantes-Brest canal, providing key information for planning and executing a long-distance walk or simply enjoying a short stroll along Brittany’s most impressive waterway. The entire towpath route is divided into large-scale sections for easy reference. The maps show locks, roads, towns and villages; landscape and places of interest; accommodation near the canal (hotels, B and B, hostels, camping), restaurants, cafes, bars; location of shops & provisions. Reference sections provide contact details to assist with planning a long-distance walk or ride along the canal. A detailed introduction traces the history of the canal from its origins in Napoleonic times and construction early in the 19th century, through a brief economic heyday and tragic decline, to today’s role as an outstanding leisure resource.
Enjoy the ‘quiet’ roads of Brittany, following old railway tracks and canal tow-paths. Major engineering achievements in their time, Brittany’s waterways and narrow gauge railways could not compete with an improving road system. Overlooked and neglected for decades, these ready-made arterial routes have recently been revived as ‘Green Ways’, a major leisure resource and network of cycle paths right across Brittany, free from motor traffic. This guide maps the major part of the current network of Green Way routes, shows how Green Ways integrate with roads, logs the facilities in place, shows the liaisons with other leisure routes and circuits for walkers and cyclists and provides a directory of overnight accommodation. Also included are gradient profiles, details of places of interest nearby, a distance chart and journey planner and a list of all the Green Way routes.
Walking Brittany discovers the most attractive and often little-known parts of this beautiful holiday region.
28 walks are described in detail with maps and photographs, with suggestions for over a hundred more – enough to create your own self-styled walking holiday based on the location of your choice.
Amble through the beech forest at Fougères or follow in the footsteps of Gauguin at Pont-Aven. Enjoy a family outing to the wonders of the Pink Granite Coast or the strange rock formations at Huelgoat. Off-the-beaten-track, explore the megaliths of St-Just or investigate the legends of King Arthur in the Forest of Paimpont. For an energetic hike, try Ménez-Hom or Ménez-Mikel, the ‘mountains’ of Brittany.
Wendy Mewes’ vivid narration of her long walk across Brittany beside the Nantes-Brest canal brings to life the history and landscape of a distinctive region where as many as 20,000 Britons now live. Well-known as a writer about Brittany, this is the author’s most personal work to date. Her journey reflects an individual search for identity and raises questions of integration and settlement in a foreign country. Places through which the canal passes prompt further thoughts upon significant characters and events of Breton history. The canal itself, twinned with the Wilts/Berks canal in England, is a leading character in the book. Its story of construction, usage, decline and resurrection as an asset for leisure and tourism is interwoven with observations of the superb natural environment it now provides for flora and fauna. The connective power between man and the landscape fostered by walking is also a theme of this memorable journey.
This fully updated and expanded guide, details the best things to do in Brittany; from the ancient megaliths of Carnac and the medieval glories of Mont-St-Michel; the quaint backstreets of its walled towns to the quiet pleasures of its coastal and inland walks. Features include everything from the many exhilarating water sports available to the mouth-watering delights of Brittany’s seafood, crepes and cider. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Brittany has the essential information every visitor to Brittany needs to know, with dozens of reviews for hotels in Brittany, recommended restaurants and tips for shopping and entertainment.