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.

 

Is this your ideal destination?                   BOOK NOW           

Want to see our route suggestions?   EXPLORE 

Map showing where Brittany boating region is in France

Find your bearings...

Brittany region map

  = 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.

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.

Who is Le Boat?

Emerald Star outside of Ireland is known as Le Boat. If you book a destination outside of Ireland your booking will be with Le Boat and our boats and bases proudly display our Le Boat brand. But don't worry, you will still receive the same great service that you would get from our Emerald Star bases in Ireland. Le Boat is Europe and Canada's 'Number One' boating holiday provider and, like Emerald Star, have been operating on the waterways of Europe for 50 years. Your holiday is in safe hands.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

Must see

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 to Dinan

Messac
Pont-Rean
Rennes
Hédé
Tinteniac
Léhon
Dinan

29 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?

29 hr(s) of cruising

127km 57 lock(s) 7 nights

Messac RETURN via La Gacilly

Messac
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
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

Messac RETURN via Josselin

Messac
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 RETURN via Nantes

Messac
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 Rennes & Josselin

Messac
Pont-Rean
Rennes
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 Josselin & Blain

Messac
Guenrouët
Blain
Nort-sur-Edre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Nantes
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

Nort-sur-Erdre to Messac via La Roche-Bernard

Nort-sur-Erdre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Blain
Guenrouët
La Roche Bernard
Messac

35 hr(s) of cruising

230km 18 lock(s) 7 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre to Messac via La Roche-Bernard

One-way French canal holidays offer a multitude of choices. Mediaeval towns with impressive cathedrals, abbeys, and châteaux are charming places to stroll, shop and dine. Cycling along the towpaths to explore the surrounding countryside is a popular pursuit, as is playing a round of golf, a game of tennis or simply lounging by the pool at a Brittany resort!

35 hr(s) of cruising

230km 18 lock(s) 7 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via Nantes & Blain

Nort-sur-Erdre
Blain
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Nantes
Nort-sur-Erdre

19 hr(s) of cruising

100km 20 lock(s) 4 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via Nantes & Blain

When you set off on a Brittany boat hire in France through two enchanting waterways — the River Erdre and the Canal de Nantes à Brest — you thrill at an adventure that combines the city charm of bustling Nantes with the laid-back ambiance of small villages. Dance the night away or enjoy intimate cocktails on the sundeck!

19 hr(s) of cruising

100km 20 lock(s) 4 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via La Gacilly

Nort-sur-Erdre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Blain
Guenrouët
Nort-sur-Erdre

33 hr(s) of cruising

200km 34 lock(s) 7 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via La Gacilly

Whilst the surf beats on rocky shores on the coast, inland gentle rivers and scenic canals are your playground on a Brittany Artisan Cruise boat hire in France! As you travel, the varied landscape takes your breath away, and there’s always something new to see around every bend! Your next stop is Guenroüet and a wide range of watersports!

33 hr(s) of cruising

200km 34 lock(s) 7 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via La Roche-Bernard

Nort-sur-Erdre
Sucé-sur-Erdre
Blain
Guenrouët
La Roche Bernard
Nort-sur-Erdre

36 hr(s) of cruising

240km 32 lock(s) 7 nights

Nort-sur-Erdre RETURN via La Roche-Bernard

Brittany is steeped in Celtic history dating back to the Vikings, and your imagination runs wild on the gentle River Vilaine as you think about the fierce Norsemen! You reach port La Roche-Bernard and tie up to stay a bit, savouring fresh Breton oysters on the half-shell and strolling along the docks, loving every minute of your French canal holidays!

36 hr(s) of cruising

240km 32 lock(s) 7 nights
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.
READ MORE
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
READ MORE
Messac - Messac
Clipper
Added on 18 August 2018

Marietha Smuts said

Well maintained boat. Excellent service before and after trip. Service from beginning to end was perfect.
READ MORE
Nort-sur-Erdre - Messac
Royal Mystique A
Added on 11 August 2018

Jude Williams said

This was our first experience on a boat ever! A little nervous about it, but the information from le boat before the holiday meant that we could prepare ourselves and the team were brilliant at our departure helping us out with a good introduction to the boat supplying us with maps and tips etc. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them and we would definitely consider going again soon. Thanks le boat for giving us a very relaxing family holiday. Great team at le boat base - very helpful handover
READ MORE
Messac - Messac
Countess
Added on 02 July 2018

Mark Batchelor said

We found the staff very helpful and accommodating - could not have been nicer. Its our second trip with Le Boat and we would certainly recommend them to friends (and have done so) Very helpful and accommodating staff
READ MORE
Nort-sur-Erdre - Nort-sur-Erdre
Salsa B
Added on 02 July 2018

Anthony Barrett said

Just a great service...loved every moment....we did it in 2009...and was great to do it all again! Lovely boat. ..lovely route....what more can I say!
READ MORE
Dear Mr Barrett,
Thanks for sharing your feedback with us, it is much appreciated. We are delighted to learn you had a great holiday with us would love to welcome you on board with us again soon.
Best wishes, The Le Boat team
Messac - Messac
Cirrus A
Added on 26 May 2018

Artan Prifti said

Lovely new experience.. Boat well equipped, itinerary well thought, maybe a longer induction for the first timers as ourselves Base well organised, boat well equipped, induction could have been longer
READ MORE
Dear Artan,
Many thanks for your five star review. Our customers' comments are very important to us.
Thank you for your feedback.
The Le Boat Team
Messac - Messac
Grand Classique
Added on 05 May 2018

Dmitry Nizhade-Gavgani said

Очень доброжелательный персонал. Очень комфортные прием и "сдача" лодки. Лодку вообще очень быстро сдали. Доволен на все 100 Хороший, разнообразный маршрут. Где то каналы, где то широкая река с видами.
READ MORE
Messac - Nort-sur-Erdre
Sheba
Added on 05 May 2018

Robert Price said

yes, thoroughly recommend superb canalised river and wonderful weather
READ MORE
Messac - Messac
Royal Mystique A
Added on 07 October 2017

David Samuels said

The service team on the phone was excellent. The website was very complete but a bit slow. The team on the ground was excellent. The boat was great. We had a great vacation. Would highly recommend to others wonderful area, very few locks, very little traffic
READ MORE
Messac - Messac
Calypso