Information about the 85km long Canal d’Ille-et-Rance and the 22.6km long Rance maritime


The Canal d’Ille-et-Rance crosses the watershed between the Vilaine and the Rance in Brittany, thus forming part of the English Channel/Atlantic Ocean link which has long been used by yachtsmen, but has also become increasingly popular as a cruising waterway in its own right. Several hire firms are based on the canal or its connecting waterways. It extends 85km from Rennes to Le Châtelier lock, north of Dinan. Navigation continues in the tidal Rance estuary (see under Rance maritime).Ille-Rance-Marit-reg

The canal has a summit level 7km in length, at an altitude of 65m, and in times of drought some restrictions may have to be imposed on the use of locks.

The Rance estuary became famous when the world’s first tidal barrage and hydroelectric power station was built near its mouth in the 1960s. For yachtsmen it remains more important as the first section of the series of waterways linking the English Channel to the Atlantic across the heart of Brittany. The seaward limit of the estuary is level with Dinard on the left bank, but for practical purposes the waterway route is considered here to start at the entrance to Saint-Malo harbour, a little further seaward on the right bank. Navigation in the estuary extends over a distance of 22.6km from this point to Le Châtelier lock, where the Canal d’Ille-et-Rance begins. For precise navigational details on the entrance to the estuary and the facilities available at Saint-Malo and Dinard, reference to North Brittany – RCC Pilotage Foundation (Imray) and nautical charts is recommended.
History – A canal across Brittany from the Rance estuary to the Vilaine at Rennes was suggested in the 17th century, but the first serious plans were drawn up in 1736. They were incorporated in a project for three canals in the Province, but nothing was done until Napoleon ordered implementation of all three schemes in 1804. Works started, but were interrupted after his defeat. A private company took up the concession to build the canal and started work in 1822. The canal was opened in 1834.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 4.70m
  • Max Height: 2.70m
  • Max Draught: 1.40m

Local Waterway Links


Rance maritime

Locks  There are two locks. Le Châtelier lock has dimensions of 30.80 by 8.00m. Its lower sill dries out at low tide, but at high springs the depth is 7.58m and the barrage is completely submerged. Locking through is permitted when the depth over the sill has reached 1.76m. Enquiries may be made at the lock if necessary. The second lock is situated on the left-bank side of the tidal barrage and has dimensions of 65 by 13m. The lock is operated every hour on the hour, except one or two hours before and after low tide, depending on the tide coefficient. There is also a ship lock (160 by 25m) providing access to the inner basins of the port of Saint-Malo.

Draught  The river is tidal throughout. The available depth is reported to be as little as 1.60 m at low tide.

Headroom  Apart from the Saint-Hubert suspension bridge (maximum air draught 19 m), the only fixed bridge is at Le Châtelier lock, offering a headroom of 3.50m under normal high tides, reduced to 3.25m under high water springs.

Authority  Subdivision des Equipements Portuaires et Maritimes – Quai du Pourquoi Pas, BP 09, 35402 Saint-Malo Cedex

Canal d’Ille-et-Rance

Locks  There are 48 locks, of which 20 fall towards the Vilaine and the other 28 towards the Rance estuary. Their dimensions are 27.10 by 4.70m. The tide lock at Le Châtelier (also called La Hisse) has larger dimensions, 30.80 by 8.00m. This lock and lock 47 (Léhon) are fully electrified. The others have electrically-operated paddles, but manual gates with balance beams or winding gear, except in Rennes. All the locks and worked by the resident lock-keepers, except for lock 2 (Saint-Martin) which is electrically operated and controlled by lights. Operating hours are 0830 to 1930 during summer time (end March to end October), with a break from 1230 to 1330. During winter hours navigation closes at 1800. Operating hours at Le Châtelier lock are between 0600 and 2100 subject to the tide (which must be +8.50m downstream of the lock).

Draught  The maximum authorised draught is 1.40m.

Headroom  The lowest fixed bridges offer a headroom of 2.70 m in the centre of the arch and 2.50 m at the sides. This is more than the previously indicated 2.50 m, which related to the bridges at Dinan and Léhon, when tides topped the weir at Le Châtelier. The estuary’s regime with the tidal power plant means that such high tides no longer occur. Boats can now therefore count on the 2.70 m being available.

Towpath  There is a towpath throughout.

Authority  Région Bretagne – Service des Voies Navigables Subdivision Vilaine-Canal d’Ille et Rance – 33 rue Armand Rébillon, 35000 Rennes

Operation and maintenance conceded by the region to the Institution du Canal d’Ille-et-Rance Manche-Océan Nord (ICIRMON), same address

Click to enlarge

Route description

Rance maritime
(Note: distances are related to the centre line of the estuary)
PK 0.0    Saint-Malo harbour entrance r/b (Sablons), 1196 berths, night €26.30, fuel, water, electricity, showers, crane 2.5t, quay, ship lock for access to inner harbour (Vauban), 50 berths, night €35, fuel, water, electricity, showers, crane 2t, slipway
PK 0.9    Moulinet point, seaward limit of Rance estuary
PK 1.2    Dinard, l/b, quay, fuel, water, electricity, slipway, ferry for Saint-Servant/Saint-Malo
PK 1.3    Rocks (Ras de la Mercière)
PK 1.8    Rocks (La Mercière), beacon, Pointe de La Cité
PK 2.2    Prieuré or Dinard bay l/b, Solidor bay r/b, mooring buoys
PK 2.7    La Vicomté point l/b, Bizeux island r/b (beacon)
PK 3.8    Rance tidal barrage, lock on l/b side, lift bridge, (D168)
PK 5.3    La Richardais bay l/b, boatyard, moorings, water, crane, slipway, no overnight mooring
PK 5.7    Cancaval promontory l/b, beacon
PK 5.9    Tour des Zèbres beacon r/b
PK 6.1    Le Montmarin bay l/b
PK 6.7    Slipways (Jouvente l/b, Passagère r/b), ferry
PK 6.9    Pierre et Paul (reef, dries at low water, no beacon)
PK 7.3    Island (Île Chevret), beacon
PK 8.3    Langronais promontory l/b, L’Écrais promontory r/b (beacon)
PK 8.6    Island (Île aux Moines)
PK 8.7    La Landriais bay l/b, boatyard, mooring, slipway
PK 8.9    Promontories (Thon l/b, Bay du Put r/b)
PK 9.7    Promontory (Garel), La Landriais windmill l/b
PK 10.8    Rocky promontories with beacons r/b
PK 11.1    Saint-Suliac jetty and beaching ground r/b
PK 12.1    Langrolay slipway l/b, village 800m
PK 13.1    Promontory (Pointe de Garo) r/b
PK 14.4    Promontory (Pointe de la Haie) l/b
PK 15.4    Overhead power lines
PK 15.5    Main road bridge (N176)
PK 15.7    Saint-Hubert suspension bridge, slipways of former ferry, moorings
PK 16.8    Plouer harbour l/b, 240 berths, night €11-€28, water, electricity, showers, slipways, restaurant 200m, village 1200m
PK 18.5    Tower (Chêne-Vert) l/b
PK 18.9    Mordreuc jetty and slipway r/b, moorings
PK 19.2    Rocher des Moulières beacon r/b
PK 21.2    Rocher du Galetier, beginning of stakes marking channel to Le Châtelier
PK 21.5    Lessart railway viaduct
PK 22.6    Le Châtelier lock and submersible weir, bridge, navigation continues in Canal d’Ille-et-Rance

Canal d’Ille-et-Rance
PK 0.0     Junction with canalised river Vilaine
PK 0.1     Lock 1 (Mail), bridge, water
PK 0.2     Rennes basin (Port du Mail), quay l/b close to centre, mooring free, water, electricity, showers, slipway
PK 0.3     Bridge (Bagoul or Saint-Étienne)
PK 0.9     Bridge (Legravérend)
PK 1.4     Lock 2 (Saint-Martin), bridge, quays u/s
PK 2.8     Bridge (Boulevard d’Armorique, Rennes inner bypass)
PK 4.5     Bridge (N136, Rennes ring road)
PK 4.7     Railway viaduct
PK 5.2     Footbridge
PK 5.6     Lock 3 (Saint-Grégoire), bridge, quay u/s l/b, moorings, shopping centre 300m, water, electricity, showers, village 400m r/b
PK 7.2     Lock 4 (Charbonnière)
PK 9.5     Bridge (D29)
PK 9.9     Lock 5 (Gacet)
PK 10.3     Bridge (Rennais)
PK 12.6     Lock 6 (Haut-Chalet)
PK 13.1     Footbridge
PK 13.7     Betton bridge, free moorings and slipway, water, electricity, sanitary building d/s r/b, village 200m r/b
PK 15.7     Lock 7 (Les Brosses), bridge, water
PK 17.8     Chevaigné bridge (Moulin du Pont), village 800m l/b
PK 18.0     Lock 8 (Grugedaine)
PK 19.3     Bridge (Motte)
PK 20.4     Lock 9 (Les Cours)
PK 21.8     Lock 10 (Fresnay), bridge
PK 23.9     Lock 11 (Saint-Germain-sur-Ille), bridge
PK 24.0     Saint-Germain-sur-Ille quay l/b, water, electricity, sanitary building, village 700m l/b
PK 24.8     Lock 12 (Bouessay)
PK 25.7     Railway viaduct (Bois Marie)
PK 26.3     Railway viaduct (Euzé)
PK 27.2     Railway viaduct (Saint-Médard)
PK 27.3     Lock 13 (Saint-Médard), bridge
PK 27.4     Saint-Médard-sur-Ille pontoon moorings, water, village 300m l/b
PK 28.1     Lock 14 (Dialay)
PK 29.0     Railway viaduct (Bablais)
PK 30.5     Lock 15 (Ille), bridge
PK 31.1     Lock 16 (Haute-Roche)
PK 32.0     Lock 17 (Lengager), bridge (D221), quay, turning basin u/s r/b, Montreuil-sur-Ille 1100m l/b
PK 32.8     Lock 18 (Chanclin)
PK 33.5     Lock 19 (Courgalais), bridge
PK 34.2     Lock 20 (Villemorin), beginning of summit level, turning basin
PK 35.5     La Plousière bridge (D82) and quay, water, Guipel 1500m south

PK 40.9     La Guénaudière bridge
PK 41.4     Lock 21 (La Ségerie), end of summit level, beginning of Hédé flight
PK 41.6     Lock 22 (Malabrie), moorings downstream
PK 41.8     Lock 23 (La Pêchetière)
PK 42.0     Lock 24 (La Charonnerie), water
PK 42.2     Lock 25 (La Parfraire), bridge
PK 42.3     Lock 26
PK 42.5     Lock 27 (La Jaunaie)
PK 42.7     Lock 28 (La Madeleine), bridge
The Hédé flight of 11 locks. © Gérard (by Kaïros)

PK 42.8     Hédé quay, moorings for 15 boats, water, electricity, showers, slipway, pump-out, restaurant, ‘Maison du Canal’ interpretation centre, small town 1200m l/b
PK 43.0     Lock 29 (Petite-Madeleine)
PK 43.2     Lock 30 (La Guéhardière)
PK 43.5     Lock 31 (La Dialais), end of Hédé flight
PK 43.6     Bridge (D795)
PK 45.4     Lock 32 (Moucherie), bridge
PK 46.5     Turning basin r/b
PK 47.1     Lock 33 (Tinténiac), bridge
PK 47.2     Tinténiac quay l/b, water, electricity, village 400m l/b
PK 48.9     Lock 34 (Gromillais), bridge
PK 49.9     Lock 35 (Gué Noëllan)
PK 50.8     Lock 36 (Pont-Houitte), bridge
PK 53.3     La Chapelle-aux-Filtzméens bridge, quay and turning basin u/s r/b, water, electricity, small village 1200m r/b
PK 54.6     Lock 37 (Calaudry), bridge
PK 56.6     Lock 38 (Couadan)
PK 57.3     Saint-Domineuc bridge (Pont de Linon), quay d/s l/b, water, sanitary building, slipway, village 700m l/b
PK 58.7     Main road bridge (D137)
PK 58.8     Bridge (Richeville)
PK 60.5     Lock 39 (Gacet), bridge
PK 60.9     Lock 40 (La Butte Jacquette)
PK 61.7     Trévérien bridge, quay and turning basin u/s r/b, water and sanitary building, slipway, village l/b
PK 62.2     Turning basin
PK 62.4     Lock 41 (Les Islots)
PK 65.1     Footbridge (St. Judoce)
PK 66.3     Evran quay r/b, water, electricity, sanitary building, village l/b
PK 66.4     Lock 42 (Evran), bridge
PK 67.0     Turning basin
PK 67.8     Lock 43 (Roche), bridge
PK 68.2     Bridge (Pont des Planches)
PK 70.0     Lock 44 (Mottay), bridge
PK 71.6     Bridge (Grand Boutron)
PK 71.8     Lock 45 (Boutron), swing bridge
PK 73.1     Quay (Vaugré) r/b
PK 74.1     Lock 46 (Pont-Perrin), bridge,
PK 76.3     Léhon bridge (Vieux Pont), quays, village l/b
PK 76.8     Lock 47 (Léhon)
PK 78.5     Dinan viaduct (D795)
PK 78.6     Dinan bridge (Vieux Pont), u/s limit of tides, Cris Boat and Le Boat hire base, boat harbour d/s l/b, 30 berths, night €17.35, water, electricity €2.60), showers €2), crane 400kg, slipway, restaurant, town 500m (but 75m to climb)
PK 78.8     Lanvallay quay r/b
PK 81.5     Quay (Étra or Asile du Pêcheur) l/b
PK 82.4     Taden quay l/b, village 700m
PK 83.4     Le Châtelier quay r/b
PK 83.8     Quay (Petit-Lyvet) l/b, Saint-Samson-sur-Rance harbour
PK 84.2     Lyvet quay r/b, moorings for 25 boats, water, electricity, showers, slipway, restaurant, village 2500m
PK 84.8     Tide lock 48 (Le Châtelier), moving bridge (D57), submersible weir, navigation continues in Rance maritime

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