The power of water

Brittany has a rich and varied heritage and its unique network of inland waterways is an ideal place from which to discover it. And there is much to discover: locks and lock-keepers’ cottages, bridges, reservoirs, mills, chapels, churches, fortresses and towns all bear witness to Brittany’s rich history. And there is no better way to explore them all than from the water or the towpath. Many organisations and towns are working to develop the waterways and the visitor will find exhibitions and displays to explain how the waterways function and their ecosystem.

Tinténiac locks

The Rance Canal is the inland waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel.It passes through the romantic Brittany countryside between Rennes and the Rance estuary. It runs past the village of Hédé and has 11 locks in the space of about 1/2 a mile. Hédé is the highest point of the canal. The 11 locks were built along 2 miles. Each of the locks has a lock keepers house.

Hédé Bazouges

Napoleon ordered the construction of the Ille-et-Rance canal in 1804. Many locks are still manually operated and several lock-keepers’ cottages, with their flower-filled gardens, remain occupied to this day.

Canalside towns are naturally popular stopovers. Some have a “label”, a guarantee of the quality of their facilities and their cultural or heritage events, such as “Villes d’Art et d’Histoire” (Towns of Art and History) and “Petites Cités de Caractère” (Small Towns of Character).

Saint Samson sur Rance

Many improvements have been made to both the canals themselves and canal-side facilities to enable both residents and travelers to profit from the network. You will find leisure centres offering activities such canoeing and kayaking, rowing and pedal boats…
Towpaths have been upgraded and are well-maintained, and lock-keepers’ cottages have been restored. Increasingly, you will find hikers and cyclists.


Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: water.

9 thoughts on “The power of water

  1. What a wonderful use of water Nicole, and a perfect response to the challenge. If one is boating though, does the lock keeper see them and come adjust the lock? How does it all work so that people can cross the various “gates”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the lock keeper comes and ajusts the lock, and you have to help him.
      If you want to go up:
      After a member of the crew has disembarked, you can enter the lock slowly. When you reach the middle, you put your engine into reverse in order to stop, then you throw the mooring ropes, bow first, to the crew member on the lock side.
      This crew member must pass the mooring ropes around the bollards and then pass the ends of the ropes to the other crew members on board (but never knot the rope round the bollard). The lock-keeper will open the paddles of the upper sluice gates. Then you keep the ropes tight as the water rises so that the boat stays up against the wall of the lock. As soon as the water levels are equal, the lock-keeper will open the upper gates.
      Once you have taken the mooring ropes back on board, you set off slowly to exit the lock.
      if you want to go down:
      You enter the lock slowly. As you reach the middle, use reverse to stop the boat. You fasten the boat at the bow and then after, you take care to ensure that the fenders are in place. You have to leave enough slack on your mooring ropes to allow you to descend between 3 and four metres, and ensure that the boat does not reverse too near to the upper gate.
      The lock keeper will open the lower gates. While the water level is going down, be ready to provide more slack as the boat descends. Once the level has been reached, the lower gates will be opened and you can take your mooring ropes back on board. You manually cast the boat off from the wall of the lock and move away slowly as soon as the gates are fully opened.


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