Laval, Town of Art and History
Tour of old Laval with its medieval half-timbered houses and welcoming shops (Saturday mornings are best for the market), stroll along the quays that border the river Mayenne with a wonderful view of the château.
Visit the old wash-house, one of the last in France and the old “Bains Douches,” a public bath which today houses an exhibition space.
For art lovers, a visit to the Museum of Naive Art installed in the château is a must. Here you’ll find one of the finest collections of Naive Art in France. Henri Rousseau, founder of the Naive Art movement was born in Laval and you can see his birthplace at the Porte Beucheresse, or meditate by his grave in the Perrine public gardens.
On sunny days, you can take an electric boat ride from the river stop.
If you are more inclined towards the natural world, a discovery of a completely different kind awaits you in Louverné, at the the Natur’eau Parc Echologia.
Fifteen kilometres south-west of Laval, in Cossé-le-Vivien, you can visit the museum of artist Robert Tatin and admire a collection of sculptures and paintings installed out in the countryside by an artist born in Laval and who returned to the country after lots of adventures around the world.
After your visit, drive on to Craon and its château, a jewel of the 18th century, perfectly preserved with its English-style grounds and outbuildings. Guided tours with the owners in summer.
The Museum of Naïve Art and Singular Arts is located in the Vieux Château
The upper Mayenne valley
Stroll in the Haute Mayennewhere you’ll discover Chailland, a small town with a big character! The bravest visitors can climb on foot to the Rocher de la Vierge, a rock overlooking the village and the valley of the river Ernée, where there is a beautiful view.
Continue to Juvigné, a flowery village which has a Museum of Agriculture where you can learn about yesterday’s farming techniques. A beautiful exhibition of old machines and tractors.
Continue to Pontmain, a town famous for the apparition of the Virgin in 1871 (recognised by the Vatican). Believer or unbeliever, you will be impressed by the basilica with its magnificent stained glass windows.
Walk in the Renaudies Gardens in Colombiers-du-Plessis, where more than 3,000 species of plants flourish. In addition to the gardens, the museum presents the old trades.
Nearby, fun and relaxation at the Colmont Leisure Park in Gorron.
To end the day, stop at Ambrières-les-Vallées, a small town built on three valleys, where you can stroll through the ancient streets and discover a beautiful viewpoint.
The Mont des Avaloirs
Take on the Mont des Avaloirs, the highest point in western France!
Take a nature walk in the Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park.
The beautiful views and natural sites follow one another in succession- the Toyères Canyon, the Trotté watermill on the banks of the Sarthe river, the Corniche de Pail road along the ledge, and the Pail forest.
These places contain many Protected Natural Areas.
A little foray into the Orne département with a visit to Saint-Céneri-le-Gerei, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, and Carrouges to visit the château.
A great area for hiking, where you’ll find hiking trails starting from Sainte-Anne-de-Champfrémont.
In Villaines-la-Juhel, visit the Pot au Lait, a museum dedicated to milk and cheeses from the last century.
Head south for a bike ride on the VéloFrancette, a national cycle route.
Departing from the port of Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne, you’ll find bike and e-bike rental on site. A 40 km ride there and back to the Benâtre lock where the Beyel restaurant is located. A flat and safe route that follows the old towpath.
Before or after your ride, discover Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne, its ramparts, the old town centre, the Ursulines Convent and the Animal Refuge.
Excellent market on Thursday mornings.
Visit Sainte-Suzanne, one of the Most Beautiful villages in France.
Visit of the hilltop village, stroll through the flowery alleys, discover the craft shops and restaurants serving local produce.
Visit the fortress and the chateau, which houses the CIAP (center for the interpretation of the architecture and heritage of Mayenne) which will give you an overview of the riches of the département.
Climb to the medieval keep which affords a 360 ° view of the surrounding countryside and the hills of Coëvrons.
7 km hiking trail to Tertre Ganne from where you will have a beautiful view over the town and the mills of the Erve river.
Walk around Evron to discover the basilica, a jewel of medieval architecture.
Back to the Haute-Mayenne Valley for an exceptional discovery day. Visit the Roman town of Jublains where you can visit Roman ruins, and an archaeological museum where Roman streets are reconstructed inside the present village.
The Métiers d’Art Forum presents the achievements of Mayenne artisans.
Visit the Château de Bourgon in Montourtier, a harmonious ensemble of buildings from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
Continue to the town of Mayenne where you can discover the old royal palace, partly built with stones from the Jublains Roman remains, the recycling of the time!
The Chateau de Mayenne has a permanent exhibition.
Nearby, Fontaine-Daniel, is the home of the famous Toiles de Mayenne fabric works, and is well worth a detour: a veritable industrial village set up around an old abbey with bags of charm. You can visit the Toiles de Mayenne store, and buy textiles known throughout the world for their quality.
A little further on, the fortress château of Lassay-les-Châteaux welcomes you with its majestic towers. The tour is guided by the owners themselves, who will tell you about their attachment to this wonderful piece of Mayenne heritage.
Stop at the Haie-Traversaine leisure center for a relaxing moment on the shores of Lake Haute-Mayenne.
Discovery of the only painted caves north of the Loire, in Saulges, a small town with lots of character.
Guided tour of the Rochefort and Margot caves.
A fascinating lesson in prehistory at the Museum which takes you back to the time of our distant ancestors.
On the site are some excellent climbing rocks, places to walk and have a picnic… a beautiful place to breathe-in the clean natural air.
Further on, the shrine of Saint-Céneré evokes the saint who brought Christianity to Mayenne in the 7th century.
Following the valley of the river Erve, visit Saint Pierre sur Erve, a village with a charming Romanesque church and a pedestrian bridge spanning the river. The Saint Sylvain chapel provides a beautiful panorama over the hills of Coëvrons and Sainte Suzanne.
Further on, Saint-Denis-d’Anjou, deserves a stop for its the covered market, the flowery streets and the old forge…
The grounds of the Château des Arcis in Meslay-du-Maine is a riotous harmony between stone and wild vegetation.