Back to the list

Canal boat rental : It's back to Brittany!

The small town of Sucé sur Erdre, located just north of Nantes in the Loire Atlantique department of France, is a gateway to the delightful idea of life on the waterways. Known for picturesque landscapes and a peaceful environment Sucé sur Erdre offers the perfect starting point for a unique self-drive boat hire holiday experience.

After the completion of restoration work on the Vioreau Dam everyone at Nicols is delighted to see the re-opening of our base at Sucé sur Erdre, with our team already preparing to welcome back boating holiday crews from 29th March 2024.

Lake Vioreau is in fact a reservoir which feeds water to the famous Nantes-Brest Canal, however for several years the dam which is used for water retention had been leaking. This continuous loss of water meant that extensive restoration work was needed and that required the emptying of the canal between Redon and Erdre.

Navigation during the 12-months of restoration work was impossible but now that this is complete our crews are set to enjoy a canal boat holiday in Brittany that’s better than ever.

The machines on the Ile de Nantes


Discovering the River Erdre and the Nantes-Brest canal: From Sucé sur Erdre to Redon

Departure from Sucé sur Erdre

No previous boating holiday experience is needed to hire a canal boat from the Nicols base in Sucé sur Erdre. What our crews get is a unique adventure finding the many hidden treasures that are dotted along the banks of the River Erdre.

Your canal boat is your holiday accommodation and transports you along one of the most tranquil rivers in France, where sometimes the only sounds you’ll hear are birds singing and the gentle lapping of the water around you.

If bird watching and nature in general interest you then the Mazerolles plain is a must see. For those crews who have opted to navigate their self-drive boat to the south, towards Nantes, you will pass many castles and other beautiful residences along the river. Nicknamed the ‘Nantes follies’ these castles perfectly illustrate the history of the Nantes area between the 18th and 19th centuries.

After this first section of navigation on the Erdre, your self-drive canal boat takes you to the intersection between the River Erdre and the Nantes-Brest Canal. Once you have passed the Quiheix lock, you take the Canal which takes you to Redon, passing through Blain (famous for its medieval castle) and Guenrouët. You’re on your holidays – it’s time to discover the famous Brittany cider!

Sailing from the base at Sucé sur Erdre


The charms of Redon: a ‘must visit’ stop-off on your boating holiday in Brittany

This is where canal boat rental becomes key to exploring life surrounding our canals and rivers. Upon reaching Redon you’ll discover a historic town rich in heritage. Redon, with its half-timbered houses and ancestral locks, reveals all the beauty of river navigation in Brittany. It's the perfect opportunity to soak up the local atmosphere, taste regional specialties and let yourself be charmed by the tranquillity of the place.


Boat rental in Brittany: heading for River Vilaine

It’s not just a delightful stop-off location. Redon is also situated at an important crossroads of waterways which reach across inland Brittany. From east to west you have the Nantes-Brest Canal, while from north to south is the River Vilaine – a majestic river offering another playground for boating holiday enthusiasts.

From La Roche-Bernard to Dinan, hiring a canal boat allows you to venture into the heart of inland Brittany. Punctuated with locks and charming little villages the River Vilaine offers a truly authentic boating holiday experience. Taking charge of a self-drive canal boat gives the feel of complete freedom – allowing our crews to discover varied landscapes, historical sites and a flavour of local life.


La Roche-Bernard: A steep stopover location that’s steeped in history

As your canal boat arrives at La Roche-Bernard you could be forgiven for thinking that you have been transported back in time! This medieval town, clinging to the hillside, invites you to stroll through its cobbled streets.

The picturesque panoramas of the River Vilaine, between cliffs and forests, add an enchanting dimension to this boating holiday. Canal boat hire, on easy to drive and comfortable boats, is the ideal way to escape from the chaos of everyday life and instead enjoy an immersive experience deep in Brittany’s history.

Port of La Roche Bernard


Rennes: A visit to the capital of Brittany

Add an urban touch to your canal boat hire itinerary - it’s possible to create your own personal boat tour of Rennes. Travelling the waters of the Canal d'Ille-et-Rance and the River Vilaine, surrounded by the medieval charm and contemporary energy of the Brittany capital, offers a unique perspective. Explore the old town, gaze at the bustling quays and discover architectural gems such as the Parliament of Brittany. Rennes reveals itself, offering a city stopover to your picturesque journey.


Dinan: The hidden gem of the River Vilaine

Continuing navigation to Dinan, travellers discover a preserved medieval town, perched above the River Vilaine. The ramparts, half-timbered houses and cobbled streets transport you to another world. It is a unique opportunity to combine history, nature and conviviality along the water and, we might be biased, but we feel that hiring a canal boat is by far the best way to explore the meandering waterways and arrive at this hidden gem of a town.


Boat rental on the Nantes-Brest Canal: no experience or licence is needed

From Redon to Pontivy

For adventurers eager for new discoveries, the Nantes-Brest Canal offers an inexhaustible playground. On this particular route you can hire a canal boat in Brittany with an itinerary that can take you well past Redon to Pontivy. Here you will travel along the historic canal originally designed by Napoleon to help open up Brittany.

Crossing Brittany from east to west your self-drive boating holiday will take you via picturesque villages such as Malestroit and Josselin, two essential stops on a fascinating river trip. This canal, testimony to the region's rich industrial past, offers an adventure full of surprises, from the serenity of the wooded sections to the majestic locks.

Josselin Castle


Redon: located where the River Vilaine and Nantes-Brest Canal cross paths

From Redon, you can continue your journey on the Nantes-Brest Canal where your self-drive canal boat becomes the passport to a journey through history and nature. Locks line the route, allowing boaters to discover the ancestral technique of water regulation. Redon, an important point on the canal, reveals its lively quays, its picturesque markets and its historic monuments.

Evening view of Redon from your boat


Pontivy: the imperial city of Napoleon

Upon reaching Pontivy, our boating holiday crews conclude their adventures on the Nantes-Brest Canal. In fact, the Guerlédan dam creates the junction with the end of the Nantes-Brest Canal and isolates the last section located between the Lac de Guerlédan and Châteauneuf du Faou.

But the medieval city of Pontivy, nestled in the heart of Brittany, is definitely worth a stop and offers a unique backdrop to end this adventure. Canal boat rental allows exploration without constraints, allowing crews to immerse themselves in the warm atmosphere of Pontivy. The canals, lively squares and architectural heritage create an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and discovery.


Canal boat rental with Nicols – the best holiday experience

Hiring a canal boat with Nicols for an adventure on the waterways of Brittany will create unforgettable holiday memories. From Sucé sur Erdre, canal boat crews discover the authentic beauty of Brittany, while enjoying the freedom of river navigation. The reopening of the base in 2024, after work on the Vioreau dam, marks the start of a new era for boating holidays enthusiasts. It’s time to get on board a Nicols boat and let yourself be seduced by Brittany, sampling preserved nature, historical heritage and unforgettable moments of relaxation.

If you like the idea of trying a one-way cruise, with no need to retrace your steps half way through your boating holiday, then you can take advantage of our second Nicols base located in Glénac in Morbihan, 10km from Redon and only 5km from the famous little village from Gacilly. A distance of 93km and 17 locks separate the two Nicols bases of Sucé sur Erdre and Glénac, and it is approximately 20 hours of navigation to travel from one base to the other. This one-way journey can therefore easily be completed in three to four days of sailing and is therefore ideal if you only have a long weekend or time for a short break to cast off on a Nicols boat!

Share article

Read too