Rennes, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
As you cruise down the Canal d'Ille et Rance drop anchor in Rennes, Brittany’s capital. It is listed as a Town of Art and History, and you’ll love its picturesque old centre. All the way from the Rue Champ-Jacquet to the Place des Lices you’ll find impressive, medieval half-timbered houses. The Hôtel de Blossac, the theatre in the Place de la Mairie, and the Palais de Saint-Georges are just some of the majestic examples of Renaissance architecture. This really is a place of contrasts! As far as gastronomy is concerned, the pancakes at the Crêperie Ouzh-Taol are a real treat. It is reputed to be the best in town. Try their delicious salted caramel crêpe before you re-board your self-drive boat.
The pretty mooring-dock, with its old bridge, is just a five-minute walk from the historic centre and there are plenty of shops nearby.
Guipry and Bourg des Comptes
As you head south of Rennes, you could visit the small village of Guipry with its unusual, tiny church shaped like a boat – not to be missed! In Bourg des Comptes, you can see both châteaux and beautiful homes, as well as stopping off for a pancake at the crêperie above the lovely village.
The market in the square at the port of Betton
Between Rennes and Melesse, you could stop off in the village of Betton. If it’s a Sunday morning, you can visit the market in the Place du Port to buy food for a picnic to enjoy while touring the village. There are also restaurants and shops in Betton.
The Maison du Canal Museum in Hédé
As you head back northwards, you could stop in the delightful town of Hédé where you’ll find the Maison du Canal museum. This former lock-keeper’s house, in the Napoleonic style, exhibits two centuries-worth of technical, economic and social history. Its displays of antique instruments, models, tools and various other authentic pieces will give you great insight into the history of the canal. Open in September, October, May and June from 14:00 – 18:00, every day except Tuesday.
Heritage and history in Tinténiac
Continue northwards and drop anchor in Tinténiac: a village with a wealth of history. Excavations carried out in 1989 revealed the remains of a village of the Carolingian period, with its network of ditches forming the boundaries of several sites: dwellings, common areas and cultivated patches. Tinténiac is thought to have been occupied since prehistoric times and then by the Romans during their conquest of Gaul. It’s a real pleasure to wander through the little back streets that are steeped in the history of this colourful village. Take some time to visit the Tool Museum beside the Canal d'Ille et Rance and discover the trades and working methods of the local craftsmen.
Your route, when you set off from Melesse, is a mixture of canals and rivers set in a natural landscape that’s rich in wildlife and plants. You’ll find that the lock-keepers are charming and very enthusiastic. The region also boasts a wealth of water-mills and dams all along your route. It all adds up to a getaway break with a wealth of cultural heritage, when you set off from Melesse aboard your self-drive boat.