About Brittany

Revel in balmy Brittany

A Celtic land laced in canalised rivers studded with towering castles seemingly at every turn, a Brittany boat hire in France ushers you into an especially unique French locale. You’re not far from the North Atlantic coast, so seafood at cafés is in order! You can also venture to Nantes and Dinan for the museums, historic sites and fine restaurants.

 

 

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Map showing where Brittany boating region is in France

Find your bearings...

  = Le Boat Base           = Canal           = Navigable river          = No navigation beyond this point

The perfect boating region for...

 

History & Heritage

You’ll never tire of the châteaux in the Land of a Thousand Castles, as Brittany is called! Put the Château de Josselin high on your history holiday list. Don't forget to discover the fascinating museums and Castle in Nantes.

Gastronomy

Seafood, especially Breton oysters, is a must on boating holidays in Brittany. Indulge in a savoury galette or a sweet crêpe, washed down with the local cider or Muscadet wine, which are delicious! Whilst you’re in Suce-sur-Erdre, enjoy fine dining at elegant Le Clos St. Thomas.

Family

Four-footed friends await the kids at Dinan’s La Bourbansais Zoo! Book your Brittany river cruise in August to coincide with the St. Laurent Festival in Blain. All the family can enjoy the butterfly reserve in La Gacillly and the Water Museum in Malestroit enchants the little ones.

Nature Lovers

As you go cruising in Brittany, you may see herons, gannets and hawks. Deer and wild boar occasionally show themselves. The marshes and peaks of Aux Pies on the River Oust are excellent for trekking and observing nature.

Please note that the Brittany cruising season lasts from 1st April-31st October 2019, and then from 1st April-31st October 2020. 

Useful information

A bit of background

Take a close look at a Brittany map and it’s obvious that this vast peninsula runs blue with rivers. Whilst many are called canals, they are simply tamed rivers with locks to better manage flooding and the big tides common on France’s northwest coast. Your Brittany boat hire in France focuses mainly on the lovely Canal de Nantes à Brest that twists and turns 360 kilometres (224 miles) from Nantes to Brest, covering the Aulne, Oust, Isac and Erdre rivers.

 

Another series of waterways slices north-south. To the north, the little used Canal d’Illle-et-Rance hooks up with the beautiful Vilaine River at Rennes. Cruising north to Dinan puts you on the canal, and cruising south on the Vilaine takes you all the way to the sea at the commercial port of La Roche-Bernard. The Villaine is a total of 218 kilometres (135 miles), and it’s delightful.

War with Great Britain under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France from 1804 to 1815, spurred the development of the canalised rivers in Brittany. English warships blockaded the coast. To mitigate the threat, work began on the canal system in 1804. British prisoners of war provided some of the labour. However, after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 the work halted, until it was resumed in 1822. Ten years later, much of the canalised river system was in place.

The Vilaine River is gentle and inviting. It’s fine for beginners. The Canal de Nantes à Brest is docile too. Cruising on the lower River Loire south of Nantes is not allowed.

Take a look at our waterway and lock closures page to keep up to date with the cruising conditions across all of our regions.

Locks in Brittany are mostly automatic and have lock keepers. Some are manual, and you’ll operate those yourself.

 

Opening hours: During the busy summer season locks are open 09:15–19:00 (7:00 p.m.). Locks are closed for lunch between 12:00-14:00 (2:00 p.m.). 

 

Public holidays: Locks are always open.

Moorings are plentiful in Brittany, and most services are available. Expect to pay between 10 and 15 euros per night for a boat about 10 metres (33 feet) in length. Rates are a bit higher in some ports.

To find out how to get to each of our bases in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available at each base or nearby, click on the relevant base below:

  • Hire of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • Optional holiday extras (find out more
  • Boat damage waiver (find out more)
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour (find out more)
  • Passage through locks (small fee applies - payable locally)
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside serevices if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Download our region guide

We've produced a handy PDF guide for this region to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway.

Download our region guide

Interactive map of Brittany

  = Le Boat base       = Point of interest

Great to see...

Must see
Nantes at night

Nantes is one of the most beautiful cities in France. There are many places and monuments to see. Given the abundance of history to explore, consider getting the "Pass Nantes," a pass that will allow you to visit as many monuments and museums as you'd like during your visit.

A very nice and peaceful little town on the edge of the River Erdre, Suce-sur-Erdre will charm you with its restaurants, cafés, and elegant terraces. Along the river, you will find cycle paths if you'd like to go for a ride. You can visit the Tower Gaillard, the last "vestige" of a temple built by the protestants in the 16th century.

Nort-sur-Erdre is a peaceful and charming city. Here, you will enjoy a welcoming marina, a very scenic place to stay. You can also survey the distinct architecture of the castle of Port-Mulon, built in the 18th century.

A city full of character, Blain hosts an immense castle riddled with history from all of its previous invaders. Here you can visit the Saint-Roch chapel, and the museum of arts and tradition.

Guenrouët is an inviting and peaceful stop. The leisure centre has something for everyone: an open-air pool with slide, whirlpool, grassy areas, pedalos, canoes and kayaks, picnic areas, and a mini-golf course themed after the local canal. The village and shops are just 200 metres away.

Welcome to La-Roche-Bernard. This town is well worth exploring. Historically an important seaport, it is still a thriving yachting centre today and its streets are filled with little shops and places to eat.

An official ‘City of character’, Redon sits at the crossroads of the Vilaine River and the Canal de Nantes à Brest. This maritime port was an important stop on the way to Rennes, and each year hundreds of ships were loaded with salt, wine and other goods to be transported to the north. Quai Duguay-Trouin pays testament to this flourishing era with many beautiful 18th mansions built by ship merchants which line the promenade. Don’t miss the ‘Musée de la Batellerie de l’Ouest’ which retraces the epic history of the Brittany canals and the life of the sailors.

In the direction of La Gacilly, the Oust River crosses between granite cliffs, creating natural paradises like the Ile-aux-Pies. This island is an adventurers’ paradise, with climbing peaks, hiking trails, and a zipline. Kids, big and small, can while away the hours, trying their hand at archery, tree climbing and fishing.

Must see
White flowers

From early May, La Gacilly is blooming with a wonderful, colourful display of flowers along the streets and bridges of the town. It is also home of the famous Yves Rocher cosmetic factory.  

Rich with history,  Malestroit was one of the 9 "baronnies" of independent Brittany and has maintained many impressive buildings from this period, including quaint, historic houses with timber framing that you can still admire in the old town.

Must see
Chateau Josselin and a Le Boat

Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the castle of Josselin is perhaps the most beautiful in all of Brittany. While here, take time to stroll through the narrow streets and admire the old houses clustered around the town centre.

Messac is home to a few interesting local churches and has lovely country tracks, perfect for taking a walk and discovering the natural beauty of the region. Today, this pretty town is classified as a ‘green tourist station’ thanks to its excellent tourist and sporting facilities. Why not give it a try?

Enter Pont-Rean by crossing its charming bridge entrance. There are many colourful landscapes to discover, especially at Le Boël which is located next to the city. The old stone-pit is also a lovely place to walk around.

Must see
La piazza centrale di Rennes in Bretagna

Rennes is Brittany's dynamic capital city. There is a thriving architectural and religious heritage which can be seen when touring St Pierre's Cathedral, St Madeleine Abbey and St Germain church. Brittany's extravagant parliament building displays its extraordinary wealth through its decor. Consider taking a break in the splendid Thabor Gardens. Rennes is a very lively town with many things to do and see all year long.

Hédé is a genial little village set on a hill by the canal, hence the need for the many locks. You will see three historic churches here - one is from the Roman period. The Musée de la Maison du Canal has many permanent and visiting exhibitions showing life on the canal from days gone by.

At Tinteniac, visit the wonderful Saint-Trinité church. The local architecture is exquisite, with its charming 15th and 16th century houses. This place is an excellent spot to moor, and if you need something, you will find several shops and services.

Lehon is listed as one of the top 30 most beautiful locations in Brittany. A single street leads from the ruined castle on the hill, down to a little hump-backed bridge over the river,  passing an abbey along the way. Take a dip into the heated outdoor swimming pool and visit the traditional bakery at the top of the village.

Must see
Dinan at night in Brittany

Dinan is widely acknowledged as one of the most picturesque towns in Brittany. The old town is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets and old medieval timbered buildings.

Itinerary suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You dont have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.

Messac RETURN via Josselin & Blain

Messac
Redon
Guenrouët
Blain
Nort-sur-Edre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Nantes
Ile-aux-Pies
La Gacilly
Malestroit
Josselin
Messac

68 hr(s) of cruising

402km 68 lock(s) 14 nights

Messac RETURN via Josselin & Blain

aking your time to see what intrigues you is the essence of French canal holidays, and that’s exactly what you’ve decided to do on an extended foray in Brittany! Top on your list is Nantes with its many museums and its impressive cathedral, along with Josselin’s castle and Redon’s Richelieu Tower. Cycling, swimming, golf and tennis anyone?

68 hr(s) of cruising

402km 68 lock(s) 14 nights

Messac RETURN via Rennes & Josselin

Messac
Pont-Rean
Rennes
Redon
Ile-aux-Pies
La Gacilly
Malestroit
Josselin
Messac

56 hr(s) of cruising

304km 54 lock(s) 10 nights

Messac RETURN via Rennes & Josselin

Rennes intrigued you, and now that you’re exploring the city’s historic sites you’re glad you came! Next you turn south to see the mediaeval towns and castles on the Canal de Nantes à Brest, a fabulous trip through rural lands. Extended French canal holidays have opened up time to see Redon, the Little Venice of Brittany, and for a jaunt to charming Josselin with its turreted castle!

56 hr(s) of cruising

304km 54 lock(s) 10 nights

Messac RETURN via Nantes

Messac
Redon
La Roche Bernard
Guenrouët
Blain
Nort-sur-Edre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Nantes
Messac

44 hr(s) of cruising

280km 36 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac RETURN via Nantes

The rugged Celtic beauty of Brittany’s waterways captivates your every sense. Castles and abbeys perch on bluffs, small villages nestle along tree-clad shores, and open meadows of lush green contrast against the shimmering blue of the waters. You stop to picnic at the edge of the forest of Gâvre, savouring the delight of French canal holidays.

44 hr(s) of cruising

280km 36 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac RETURN via Josselin

Messac
Redon
Ile-aux-Pies
La Gacilly
Malestroit
Josselin
Messac

35 hr(s) of cruising

208km 36 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac RETURN via Josselin

As you stroll through quaint waterside towns, you notice the abundance of colourful flowers and public gardens. The love of everything floral seems universal, and it adds to the charm of French canal holidays in Brittany. Getting into the spirit, you plan a visit to the Yves Rocher Botanical Gardens in La Gacilly, and the grand Château at Josselin!

35 hr(s) of cruising

208km 36 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac to Dinan

Messac
Pont-Rean
Rennes
Hédé
Tinteniac
Léhon
Dinan

30 hr(s) of cruising

127km 57 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac to Dinan

You’re on the first days of a Brittany Corsaires Cruise boat hire in France, experiencing the pleasures of the Vilaine and Rance rivers! History abounds at every turn, with impressive castles and gardens adorning the shores. You plan to play some tennis and go horseback riding at Betton. And perhaps do a lakeside picnic in magnificent Combourg?

30 hr(s) of cruising

127km 57 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac RETURN via La Gacilly

Messac
Redon
Ile-aux-Pies
La Gacilly
Messac

18 hr(s) of cruising

120km 6 lock(s) 3 nights

Messac RETURN via La Gacilly

The Vilaine River sparkles ahead as you draw near to pretty Redon, a city so crisscrossed with waterways and bridges it is often called Little Venice. Cathedrals and castles rise from the shore, and you’re glad to be boating in France! After you sightsee, you intend to linger over a dessert of Breton Far, a regional pudding similar to flan topped with juicy plums and luscious custard!

18 hr(s) of cruising

120km 6 lock(s) 3 nights

Messac RETURN via La Roche-Bernard

Messac
Redon
La Roche Bernard
Messac

20 hr(s) of cruising

152km 4 lock(s) 4 nights

Messac RETURN via La Roche-Bernard

The sea exerts a magnetic pull on you in spectacular Brittany, and you’re thrilled to be boating in France. You snap pictures as you pass Napoleonic castles rising from forest-clad shores, and you contemplate the rich Celtic culture of the people. Soon historic Redon looms off the bow, and you and your friends decide to go sightseeing!

20 hr(s) of cruising

152km 4 lock(s) 4 nights

Our Feefo reviews

Feefo is an independent and impartial review service that requests reviews directly from those who have been on a Le Boat vacation. Below you can read what our past customers think about their Le Boat experience, and trust that what you read is unfiltered, unedited and uncensored.

Added on 21 June 2019

Chris Dodge said

We have used the same company every year since 1990. There are inevitably minor issues that crop up, but the company always responds appropriately and promptly. Our first visit to Brittany, which we absolutely loved.
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Hi Chris,Thank you for taking the time to leave us such lovely feedback. It's great to hear that you are always looked after by our teams. Thanks so much for your loyalty and we hope that we can welcome you on board again soon!All the best,The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Tango
Added on 14 June 2019

Katheryne Edwards said

Everything from booking, checking in, orientation and checking out was great. Everyone was intent on ensuring that we would have a positive experience. It was most helpful that reception had a good facility with the English language. The maps and boating manual were great as was the encouragement that we received. In hindsight cushions for the upper steering deck would have been a good idea. We were so glad to have the option of adding a cleaning fee. While it is easy to keep a small space relatively tidy and clean - who wants to clean on holiday. Britany was pristine and fabulous in all the locations we visited. It would have been ideal if the option of a one way were possible. However given what we saw we would not want to upset the delicate eco balance that exists in the area. The only wee recommendation that we would make is the starter food package. It was more carbo based than would have been our preference. A great way to connect with nature and to see and be apart of a very special part of the world. Tango 2 met our needs very well. Having a separate shower space was a huge plus for us. The extra sleeping area served as our walk in closet. What a luxury on a boat.
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Messac - Messac
Tango
Added on 14 June 2019

Sarah Galli said

Very organised at collection and pick up. Useful maps, navigation guides and boat manual provided. Friendly staff at the Messac base. Had a really fantastic experience cruising along the Nante and Brest canal and adjoining rivers in Brittany. It was a real adventure learning how to drive the boat and navigate the locks which turn out to be quite easy as all the locks are manned. Stopped in some beautiful historic towns and enjoyed lots of peace and quiet and lovely scenery. You can stop and start where you like which makes this a very independent and unique experience.
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Hi Sarah, Thank you for the lovely feedback. It's fantastic to hear that you had such a wonderful holiday and that you were treated so well by our teams. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon! All the best, The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Corvette A
Added on 03 June 2019

Deborah James said

great customer service dealt with my many questions before booking really well. The boat was really clean and well equipped, although larger cups/mugs would be nice. Information and maps provided are excellent and easy to use. Waterways were very quite on our trip in early June , we passed less than 10 other boats moving on the River villaine and Nante/Brest canal,absolutely blissfull.......mindfullness at it's best! Friendly and competent staff,beautiful area
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Hi Jane, Thanks for the positive and constructive feedback. It's great to hear that our teams looked after you from start to finish and that you had a relaxing holiday. We hope that we can welcome you on board again soon! All the best, The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Caprice
Added on 01 June 2019

Amanda Willmore said

A fab holiday and excellent customer service and advice on how to reverse a boat! It is hard not to relax and watch the world go by..the lock keepers are so friendly and helpful - the fishermen can be interesting! Loved stopping off at all the small villages on route and treating ourselves to wonderful bread and cake in local bakeries. Thank you Le Boat team for a great holiday Excellent - will look to do again soon :-)
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Hi Amanda, Thanks for the positive feedback. It's fantastic to hear that you had a fabulous holiday and that you were well looked after by our teams. One of the best things about canal boat holidays is that you can cruise at the comfort of your own pace, stopping as and when you like! We hope that we can welcome you on board again soon. All the best, The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Royal Mystique A
Added on 27 May 2019

David Cooper said

Help from UK staff during the booking process and the welcome, briefing and on boat tuition from Patrice and Paul in France was excellent. The boats are very well equipped, the French lock keepers very friendly and helpful and we found some great restaurants close to the moorings on the river Vilaine. It all adds up to a very relaxing holiday
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Hi David, Thank you for the positive feedback. It's great to hear that you had a lovely holiday and that you were well looked after by the team.We hope that we can welcome you on board again soon. All the best, The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Crusader
Added on 22 April 2019

Miel Dotson said

Booking and planning our vacation was super easy with the help of the booking agents in Montreal. They helped me with every question I had. The Le Boat personnel were very friendly and showed us everything we needed.
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We're so glad you had a wonderful time on your Le Boat vacation. Thank you for taking the time to let us know. We hope to see you cruise with us again soon!
Messac - Messac
Horizon 4
Added on 14 September 2018

Gene Whitney said

Overall, the Le Boat experience would have been 5-star except for a couple of small complaints. The check-in process was good; the staff were friendly and helpful. The documentation on the boat was excellent and provided invaluable information about moorings, services, etc. and allowed for detailed planning. The boat (Tango 2) was great and I loved the bow thrusters, which are incredibly helpful for mooring and got us out of one bumping situation by another boat. The boat was comfortable and easy to drive. My one big complaint is the 4PM pickup and 9AM drop-off. I understand that Le Boat wants to maximize rentable days by turning the boats around during the day, and I understand that I could pay extra for early pickup and/or late drop-off. Still, the late pickup and early drop-off seriously limits what we could do on the first and last day. Basically, the trip is two days shorter than listed. In fact, we didn't get out of Messac until almost 6 PM because there was a line of customers, so we had to immediately look for available moorings. Not the best start to the trip. We went from Messac to Josselin and back to Messac, via La Gacilly. Both the river segments and the canal segments are beautiful, with many interesting towns and villages along the way. We went in September so there was little traffic in the canals, and there are not so many locks as some other trips. I highly recommend this trip.
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Many thanks for providing your comments following your recent cruise. We are so pleased to hear that you enjoyed your trip despite your concern about the pick up and drop off times. We always aim to get customers underway as early as we can but this is not always possible due to operational constraints. We are sorry if this affected your plans and we have forwarded your comments onward for review and consideration. We hope you'll cruise with us again soon!
Messac - Messac
Tango
Added on 01 September 2018

Stephen Mckelvey said

Air France lost our luggage, so we had to start our holiday with what we could buy locally; however, Fabrice and all the team at Messac helped us out by bringing our luggage to us when it arrive two days later. (We were at Redon, 34km from Messac when the luggage arrived.) So we were able to have a great holiday with the minimum of disruption. We have hired lots of boats in France over the years from; Le Boat, Locaboat, France Passion Plaisance and Caminav. Generally, the boats from Le Boat are in better condition than the rest. Air France lost our luggage, so we had to start our holiday with what we could buy locally; however, Fabrice and all the team at Messac helped us out by bringing our luggage to us when it arrive two days later. (We were at Redon, 34km from Messac when the luggage arrived.) So we were able to have a great holiday with the minimum of disruption. We have hired lots of boats in France over the years from; Le Boat, Locaboat, France Passion Plaisance and Caminav. Generally, the boats from Le Boat are in better condition than the rest.
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Messac - Messac
Countess
Added on 27 August 2018

Paul Costello said

Brilliant short break in Brittany on Le Boat from Messac. Very friendly and helpful staff. Beautiful river Great location and helpful staff at Messac
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Messac - Messac
Clipper