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Life in the slow lane on Brittany’s canals

Lonely Planet Traveller - September 2016
Claire Richardson

In 1811, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction of the Nantes-Brest canal to protect his military supplies and dodge the British lurking along the Breton coastline, and it became a thriving transport route. Today, the tree-lined waterways offer a somewhat slower and altogether less warlike pace of life. There’s no better way to explore them than at the helm of your own vessel. No experience is necessary on a Nicols boating holiday; after a quick induction, voyagers will soon be cruising gently through the fertile countryside to a chorus of chirping birds. A 34-mile round trip from the inland fishing village of Glénac to the medieval town of Malestroit, full of half-timbered houses, is ideal for a weekend break. Moor alongside pretty riverside villages, explore historical sites and pick up supplies from local markets to enjoy onboard on long summer evenings. Three miles north from Glénac, the village of La Gacilly is worth a detour with its annual open-air photo festival.

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