France // Brittany //

The Nantes–Brest canal

Completed in 1836, the meandering chain of waterways collectively known as the Nantes–Brest canal connects Finistère to the Loire. Interweaving rivers with stretches of canal, it was built at Napoleon’s instigation to bypass the belligerent English fleets off the coast. As a focus for exploring inland Brittany, whether by barge, bike, foot, or all three, the canal is ideal. Not every stretch is accessible, but detours can be made away from it, such as into the wild and desolate Monts d’Arrée to the north of the canal in Finistère.

The canal passes through riverside towns, such as Josselin, that long predate its construction; the old port of Redon, a patchwork of water, where the canal crosses the River Vilaine; and a sequence of scenic splendours, including long, narrow Lac de Guerlédan, created by the construction of the Barrage de Guerlédan, near Mur-de-Bretagne.

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