Today I take the train from Guipry-Messac to Redon, downstream to the south. It’s only about a 20 minute train ride, Redon is actually closer to Guipry-Messac than Rennes. Redon is a medium-sized city, but its importance lies in its port, and its role as a land navigation junction. It is located near the tidal boundary of Vilaine, at the point where the Nantes-Brest Canal crosses Vilaine, and where the Oust River joins Vilaine. All of these factors make it an important port, tax and customs post, and ship building site. In addition to canals and rivers, it has a basin port that accesses the canal and Vilaine. These are all quite complicated, and there are many locks, docks and bridges, including swing bridges and lift bridges, all clustered around the port section.
The city center has some interesting architecture, including an impressive city hall, which stands next to a high bell tower, which used to be part of the monastery church but now stands free because the fire destroyed parts of the church. Behind these buildings is a large old monastery, featuring supporting forests flying around church shelters at one end.
In the city there are a number of medieval buildings, especially along the rocky main road. After this road descends, someone arrives at the key and the bridge where the Nantes-Brest canal crosses the city and also has an intersection with the Vilaine River. It is very interesting to work on setting all the keys, canals, bridges and docks, and of course maps are needed to find out. The weather deteriorated slightly in the middle of the afternoon, with rolling clouds, cold winds and some rain.
Crossing the canal takes someone to the ‘island’ which is a port. Narrow streets flanked by old stone buildings, and on one side of the river and on the other side of the basin port, are now filled with cruise ships. Here I found the Musée de la Batellerie, which features stories of canals, locks and key guards, boatmen, and a history of navigation along Brittany rivers and canals. It was very interesting, especially the story of the Nantes-Brest Canal, whose construction was urged by Napoleon, to avoid using the open sea for military transportation, the sea which was dominated by Britain.
The canal is a large business, which includes crossing several ranges of hills, up to 185 meters in height just inland from Brest. More than 200 keys are built along the canal, all of which require maintenance and operation personnel. The western part of the canal was closed in the 1920s when dams were built for hydroelectric power, but the eastern part of the canal is still used, lately basically for pleasure crafts.
Redon is also a bit of a railroad crossing, with trains to Rennes, Nantes and Vannes. I took the Rennes train back to Guipry-Messac after an interesting traveling day.