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A river cruise through Brittany

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Many people visit Brittany for a holiday on the beautiful coastline. This time we visited inland Brittany in a special way: by river cruise through Brittany crossing the Morbihan region. This region offers beautiful views, ancient small villages and peaceful waterways. We didn’t have much sailing experience as yet but that was not necessary for this river cruise: with a rental boat from Nicols Yachts you can sail over the waters without a licence. All the comfort we needed was at hand on the boat!

Exit point Glénac in Brittany

In tiny Glénac, the boat was waiting for us. Surprised, we looked up when we were not allowed to step on a four-person boat, but a six-person boat. With a length of almost 14 metres, it felt like a giant ship. No less than three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sitting area offered more than enough space for the four of us.

After a thorough explanation it was time for a trial run. Accompanied by our captain, we were allowed to do our first lap. It resembled the driving test my grandfather took decades ago: a lap around the church, a special achievement given and voilà! So, it was time to really cast off the mooring lines and choose the right amount of water. Fortunately, the waterways in this region are only accessible for pleasure boats. So luckily, you don’t come across any commercial ships. There are locks, some quite narrow. For inexperienced drivers, passing the first lock is an exciting moment. If you take it easy and follow the instructions, then it’s not so bad. After that, you will feel like a real captain.

Pretty villages and towns in the Morbihan region of Brittany

The Morbihan region has many small villages and towns. It is attractive to moor the boat and enjoy the beautiful half-timbered houses along the cobblestone streets and the typical Breton shops. If you are hungry, there is a crêperie in every town.


In the town of Redon, a visit to the former St. Sauveur abbey is worthwhile. The abbey was one of the largest abbeys in Brittany during the Middle Ages. Additionally, you will find the monastery of Calvairiennes. Redon has an old port and is crossed by the canal Nantes – Brest. In the Museum of Inland Navigation, you discover the history and life of the sailors, the role of the canals and the former seaport of Redon.

La Gacilly

Via the meandering river Aff, you sail in beautiful green landscape to the lovely town of La Gacilly. This is a real artists’ town. More than 30 different craftsmen make special art objects for you to admire in their workshops. In the village, you walk from gallery to gallery. La Gacilly is famous for Yves Rocher. The namesake of this famous cosmetics brand has been mayor of La Gacilly for years. In Maison Yves Rocher there is an exhibition that stimulates the senses. The botanical gardens next to the building are nice to walk through too.

La Roche-Bernard 

This is the last port before boats reach the Atlantic Ocean. We didn’t try that with our boat but we did enjoy the city that was once founded by Vikings. The old town has many alleys and lookouts with beautiful views. The path of the Ruicard that runs through picturesque streets is so picturesque. The 16th and 17th century houses give the place a special, idyllic character.


Josselin, situated on the banks of the Oust, is a very beautiful city with beautiful half-timbered houses. The oldest dates from 1538. The history of the city is closely linked to that of the castle that dominates the city. The fortress, founded by the Rohan family in the 11th century, is still inhabited by its descendants. The castle garden is beautiful to walk through.

A river cruise through Brittany: practical information

To make the most of your river cruise through Brittany, the following tips and information are important:

Route to Glénac

Glénac is located almost 800 kilometres from the Dutch border. The shortest route is via Paris. Keep in mind that the Paris ring road often has traffic jams and can lead to delays. The route via Amiens, Caen and Rennes is slightly longer, but less prone to traffic jams. If you want to get to Glénac on time, it’s best to spend the night in nearby Redon. We slept here in the Queen Serenity hotel. Neat rooms with an excellent and extensive breakfast buffet.

Stock up on provisions in advance

The village of Glénac, where the port of Nicols is located, has little to offer. There is a small grocery store (closed on Wednesdays), which also has very limited stock. In Redon or La Gacilly there are supermarkets where you can buy the necessary provisions for your river cruise.

How easy / difficult is sailing?

Sailing a rental boat is not difficult in itself. Fortunately, our waterways were not accessible for commercial shipping. In addition, it was early in the season, so we hardly encountered any other boats.

What makes it more challenging is passing the locks. Some of them are very narrow and require some steering skills. Fortunately, every boat has the possibility to manoeuvre sideways. This makes the boat a lot more manoeuvrable. In the locks it is important not to tie up the boat because of the difference in height that arises in the lock. The clear booklet with sailing instructions clearly indicates how to do this.

Mooring in a harbour can be a bit difficult, especially when there is a strong current. The buoys around the boat certainly do their job. Always leave them hanging out during the trip, so you won’t get any damage if you do bump into something.

Stock up on provisions in advance

The village of Glénac, where the port of Nicols is located, has little to offer. There is a small grocery store (closed on Wednesdays), which also has very limited stock. In Redon or La Gacilly there are supermarkets where you can buy the necessary provisions for your river cruise.

Deposit required

You have to pay a deposit in advance. The amount depends on the type of boat. After returning the boat without damage and a check that all items are present on board, you will be refunded the deposit.

What is and what is not present on board

Bed linen is standard on board. You can rent towel sets and kitchen sets for a small fee. You will receive a “survival package” with the most essential items, such as dishes, toilet paper, garbage bag, etc.

There is enough kitchenware available in the boat. You have access to a four-burner gas cooker, a large fridge, freezer, a DVD player and an oven. Please note that the oven is not suitable for making an oven dish, for example. The maximum temperature is 60 degrees.

Cleaning the boat

You have to return the boat clean. This means rinsing the deck and removing all branches and leaves, as well as sweeping the interior spaces and the kitchen. The bathrooms also have to be left clean. You fill up your water tank again and leave the petrol full. Then the boat is ready for the next guests.

Our opinion on a river cruise through Brittany

Unfortunately, we were unlucky that the weather during our boat trip was not good. The windscreen wiper on the boat was working overtime and unfortunately, we didn’t use the sundeck. So, we couldn’t even splash around in the water. That made the experience a bit of a damp squib.
We had no other bikes on board. You can rent them when you leave, and we certainly advise you to do that! This increases mobility enormously. Along the sailing routes, there are beautiful, flat cycle paths that invite you to cycle through the surroundings.

We thought the comfort on board was great. The boats are fully equipped with modern equipment. Nothing was lacking, so the accommodation was perfect. All in all, we found it a nice way to discover Brittany from the water. If the weather had cooperated, it would have been great!

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