Nantes to Brest canal

Cycling along the Canal de Nantes à Brest

Cycle along the serene paths of the Canal de Nantes à Brest and let yourself be seduced by the peaceful charms of this historic treasure of Brittany. This canal, dotted with verdant landscapes and picturesque villages, offers an idyllic itinerary for cycling enthusiasts in search of adventure and discovery. Follow the meandering waters, cross ancient locks steeped in history and soak up the authentic atmosphere of the canal banks.

Discover the Nantes to Brest canal

From the city of the Dukes of Brittany to the north of Finistère, the Nantes to Brest canal crosses the heart of Brittany from east to west and north to south. From lock to lock, this 364-kilometer route takes you on a discovery of inland Brittany. An untamed region with unspoiled nature and a strong character.

Made up of 238 locks and prodigious works of art, the Nantes-Brest Canal is sometimes considered to be the greatest technical work of the 19th century. Throughout its route which stretches through the center of Brittany, the Nantes-Brest Canal links the most beautiful Breton valleys: the Erdre, the Vilaine, the Oust, the Blavet and finally the Aulne. In addition, what makes the Nantes-Brest Canal so beautiful and diverse is the wild nature of its rivers. On the canal overall, only 20% has been dug to connect rivers.

The bike paths of the Nantes to Brest canal

Punctuated by the flowery locks, the song of birds and the barges, cycling the Nantes to Brest canal is a soothing experience. Calm and serenity guide your bicycle getaway along this path of water. On the landscaped towpath that winds along the Nantes to Brest canal, you ride safely away from traffic and away from the frenzy of cities. The air is pure, you can breathe at ease. Flat and safe, the route is perfectly suited for families who want to discover bike-travelling. However, it is also suitable for more experienced bike-travellers who can, if they wish, stretch out the distances.

Due to its untamed route, the Nantes to Brest canal appeals to nature lovers. It crosses contrasting natural landscapes such as Lake Guerlédan, the Armorican Massif and the valley of the Erdre, nicknamed “the most beautiful river in France” by François 1er. Although the route is untamed, cities are not completely absent. Along the route you pass through cities of Art and History like Pontivy. In addition, during your trip, take the time to discover the remarkable localities of Josselin and Malestroit classified Small Cities of Character.

Depending on your expectations and your desires, we offer several bike travel packages on the Nantes to Brest canal. Do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to assist you in organizing your cycling trip to discover the heart of Brittany.

When to visit?

In Brittany, the weather can be capricious all year round, especially in its westernmost part. The best season for cycling the Nantes to Brest Canal runs from mid-May to early October. In summer, the days are long in the west of France. In Brittany, it is often said that there are “four seasons in a day”. As the weather is very changeable throughout the day, you can easily adapt your bike rides by combining visits, coffee breaks and cycling.

6 must-see sites on the Nantes to Brest canal:

The Nantes to Brest canal offers a lush natural heritage and many historical and cultural curiosities. Along the way, you will fall under the spell of well-preserved Small Towns of Character which mark out this beautiful green setting.

  • The Small Cities of Character of Malestroit and Josselin.  For a stopover, take the time to walk the cobbled streets and contemplate the half-timbered houses of Malestroit and Josselin, two localities classified as Small Towns of Character. In Malestroit, local crafts are well established. An opportunity for art lovers to hunt around in the village shops and workshops. In Josselin, do not miss the visit of the castle which overlooks the Oust river and has watched over the city for 500 years.
  • The Guerlédan Lake. Nestled between the hills of central Brittany, Lake Guerlédan is the largest in the region. It enjoys an exceptional setting, surrounded by nature a few kilometers from the village of Mur de Bretagne. It is a popular place for hiking and water sports such as water skiing, canoeing and swimming.
  • Bon Repos Abbey. Located in the town of Saint-Gelven, the Abbey of Bon Repos was founded in the 12th century by the Cistercians. A flagship monument of religious heritage in central Brittany, the site nowadays hosts numerous exhibitions of contemporary art. The abbey is easily accessible from the Nante to Brest canal route.
  • Pontivy and the castle of the Dukes of Rohan. Unmissable stopover from the Nantes to Brest Canal, the city of Pontivy welcomes you with its imposing castle built by the Rohan family.
  • L’île aux Pies. 10 kilometers from Redon, the natural site of Île aux Pies is a favorite as its landscape is unique in Brittany. A true geological curiosity, Île aux Pies is an island located at the confluence of the Nantes to Brest canal and the Oust. In addition, the site sprouts cliffs that overlook the river. The site is a popular playground for hikers and rock climbers.
  • The flowery locks along the Nantes to Brest canal. With 238 locks spread over the 364 kilometers of its route, the Nantes to Brest Canal is well supplied. In spring and summer, it is a delight to admire the elegantly flowered locks that adorn the canal while riding a bike.