© Les 11 Écluses au lever du jour, Hédé-Bazouges | Emmanuel Berthier

The Ille‑et‑Rance canal

Historically built for trading purposes in the 19th century to link the Rance Valley to Rennes, the Ille-et-Rance canal is today an idyllic spot for hikers and pleasure boaters.

Péniche sur le canal d’Ille-et-Rance
©Péniche, canal d’Ille-et-Rance|On met les voiles

Are you familiar with the Ille‑et‑Rance canal?

The canal’s construction, which began in 1832, represents one of the most ambitious projects of the 19th century. Open to navigation in 1837, it was part of the Channel-Ocean link, a navigable waterway linking the Channel to the Atlantic Ocean.

It is 85-kilometres long and passes 48 locks to reach Rennes. Each of these locks has its own lock-keeper’s house with colourful shutters on the windows.

Until the early 20th century, the main vocation of the canal was for trade. Then the transport of goods decreased and made way instead for river tourism. This is hardly surprising in view of the castles and picturesque towns along this waterway.

The 11 locks in Hédé-Bazouges

Set off to discover a spectacular site. In Hédé-Bazouges, the canal is completely man-made. 11 locks allow boats to move an incredible 27 metres uphill over a distance of barely more than 2 km. This boat ladder demonstrates real technical prowess ! With a lock approximately every 200 metres, the view is astonishing.

11 locks and as many lock-keepers’ houses! They are all operated manually, even today. You’ll love their shutters in different colours, the floral footbridges, and their pretty names too : La Charbonnerie, La Jaunaie and La Petite Madelaine.

The Maison du Canal is an essential visit to discover the history of the site and temporary exhibitions on river heritage and regional heritage.

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