The locks of Redon!

Now this is backwater Bretagne, the kind of places tells you are in old France, away from the capitals and into the countryside. My kind of place,and on my road warrior travels in my belle France have seen plenty. This is a city have written on before, but somehow left the Locks or écluses out and it is time to remedy the situation. I like to tell you about the locks or écluses of Redon. Follow me on the road along the waterways of Bretagne!


To date, any passage through a lock in Brittany requires human intervention. The procedures differ according to the locks. For the Vilaine canal, the lock is mostly done without notice While traces of commercial navigation on the Vilaine river date back to the 9C, the first development projects date back to 1160. The first ten locks were put in place between 1575 and 1585.

Before the construction of the Arzal dam, the sea rose there as far as Redon, a maritime character, to which the landscapes and vegetation still testify. The écluse de Bateliers lock, which marks the passage of the canal from Nantes to Brest to the Vilaine, at Redon since the 1960s, the viewpoint of this lock has not changed much. To the right, you will recognize the P’tit Théâtre Notre-Dame on Quai Surcouf. Straight ahead is the Vilaine river, only separated from the canal by this lock called the Bateliers.


The operation of the machines today is electronic, although if something goes wrong you can fall back on the good old crank. A former town of shipowners, Redon is a crossroads of Breton waterways, 40 km from the ocean. Located north of the confluence of the Oust and the Vilaine rivers , it is crossed by the Nantes-Brest Canal. Drilling this waterway was a major project in the 19C. It has 364 km of canals and 238 locks!  River transport began to decline at the start of the 20C. Goods now went by rail or road. From 1970, the Arzal dam strongly softened the milk soup character of the Vilaine. By regulating its flow, this rare model of estuarine dam has made it possible to fight against winter flooding in Redon and even in the region of Rennes and Vitré. It even provides drinking water!


Each year, the lock sees between 3,500 and 4,000 boats pass: pleasure boats, rentals .,etc.. Some arrive from Josselin and Malestroit, by the Nantes to Brest Canal. Others go up from Arzal and the Atlantic Ocean. The Redon lock must be among those which turn the most in Brittany. Allow ten minutes for a boat to pass, fifteen minutes if the weighbridge has to be raised. If they take the direction of Arzal, the Atlantic Ocean is only 4.5 hours by boat for boaters. The sea air is not so far away. As a reminder that before the construction of the Arzal dam, Redon was still a seaport. Even the commercial port of Rennes !


The city of Redon and its heritage

The Redon country tourist office on the waterways

The Bretagne region tourist office on the Canal Nantes Brest

The name of Vilaine derives from an old Breton name, ar ster vilen, “the river of mills”. Very likely given the many mills that still line its course today. But another explanation also seems credible: its original name could also be ar ster velen, “the yellow river” because of the muddy color of its waters during flooding.

There you are folks, my Bretagne has many wonders still to uncover, I am working on it with patience. Redon has a wonderful seafaring history even if today sits way inland, a wonderful town to visit, worth the detour. Hope you enjoy this brief tour of the locks of Redon!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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