Home travel A week on the Canal de Nantes à Brest in Brittany (part one)

A week on the Canal de Nantes à Brest in Brittany (part one)

by Clare Mansell
A week on the Canal de Nantes à Brest in Brittany (part one)

We are developing a bit of a tradition in our family for taking boat holidays together. Four years ago all of us (six adults, three children and four dogs) holidayed on the Welsh canals in three narrowboats, then last year we decided to step it up a gear and booked a trip to France which was a great success, even if the number of locks made it quite an active holiday too!

This summer we returned to Brittany for our second family holiday with Le Boat. We did a bit more research on the area this time and picked their Castles & Gardens route which begins at their base in Messac which is two and a half hours from Cherbourg. Although last year’s holiday was good we enjoyed this year’s route even more, the river was stunning and we found interesting towns, restaurants and scenery everywhere we stopped and amazingly, despite it being August, we found most places were very quiet.

This year we booked two boats, one for my parents and a much larger one for our family and my sister’s family to share (4 adults, 4 kids and 1 dog!) With Alice crawling I knew there was no way I’d be able to crew the boat and look after the kids so extra hands were needed!


My parents booked the four berth Countess 15 and the rest of us were in the Grand Classique which has 5 cabins and sleeps twelve. It had a really fantastic dining and seating space in the middle of the boat with cabins at either end of the boat meaning my sister’s family and ours were able to have our own areas on board.

Despite the five cabins we had a few challenges with finding suitable sleeping spaces for all of us. None of the cabins had floor space big enough for a travel cot (which is pretty typical of any boat) so we bought a pop up travel cot to go on one of the bunks and used it with a bed guard (you can see how we used it in this video) We also discovered only when we arrived that 4 of the 10 dedicated beds are actually child size so when Jim (who’s 6’4″) and I had trouble getting a decent nights sleep on the double in the bow, one of us had to make up the bed in the saloon because neither of us fitted in the spare bunks, but it worked in the end.


Once again on this trip, Le Boat kindly gave us a few upgrades in return for us sharing our experiences and photos of the trip. Bikes and wifi are really vital additions which we got a good amount of use out of on the trip and the baby seat we had on one of them meant I was able to get off the boat and cycle alongside the river with Alice which gave her a much needed change of scene.


The weather throughout the week was amazing reaching the high 30s on most days and so we were pleased to be out on the water with a breeze and actively sought moorings in the shade on a number of occasions. We pretty much all survived without sunburn, even though on one day Alice and I had to do a fast pedal in the midday sun to the nearest town before the local boulangerie closed for lunch!

leboat9leboat_portrait3taking a baby on a boat holidayleboat_jane21

And talking of boulangeries, we had amazing fresh bread and pastries to start every day from bakeries that were walking distance from the river. The Bretagne food in all its different guises was a definite highlight!

I do of course have way too many photos to share, so I’m splitting them between two posts, read part two here. As always thank you to my sister for letting me share some of her images too.

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