Five Little Secrets About Mayenne
France's Mayenne is little known to the many tourists who flock to the country each year. And that's part of its appeal. It's a...Read more
Ahhh, the Mayenne. This little-known but quintessentially French region will always have a special place in our hearts. South of Normandy but just north of the Loire, it was here, over 30 years ago, that we brought our first holidaymakers to experience the delights of cycling in France. Three decades later, it remains a firm favourite and here's why.
This is hardly strenuous countryside but thanks to the Mayenne river towpath you can now follow the twists and turns of this beautiful waterway for 35km (22 miles) and not see a car or a hill. Our base hotel's garden actually backs on to the path.
Everyone knows about the Loire and its astonishing chateaux but the Mayenne can easily hold its own – and with a fraction of the crowds. We recommend the two chateaux at Laval, which are surrounded by a wonderful medieval old-town. Try not to miss the spectacular ruins at Ste Suzanne – also officially one of France's prettiest villages. If you're lucky enough to catch one of their jousting tournaments it'll be the highlight of your holiday.
If you're taking your children on a cycling holiday in France you want quiet or traffic-free routes, easy-going restaurants and pools at each hotel. That's exactly what you get here. Plus there are markets to explore, lakes to picnic around and old-fashioned cafés waiting for you to slurp down ice-creams or Orangina.
The Mayennais take their food very seriously. Even the chickens are Appellation Contrôlée. The world-famous Port Salut cheese was invented by the monks at the abbey at Entrammes. Anything with apples – the regional symbol - is going to be delicious. When packing your picnic look out for rillettes, a local pork paté that melts in the mouth, or try the fresh, crumbly goat's cheese that's sold in every market.
The Mayenne region is an unsung treasure trove. You'll find the most extraordinary historic and archaeological remains around every corner. Climb through the caves at Saulges to see prehistoric wall paintings and sabre-toothed skeletons. Explore the extraordinary Roman bath houses, amphitheatre, temple and military fort at Jublains. In every village there's an unlocked church with walls still decorated in their original medieval frescos (including the 1000-year-old paintings in Asnières sur Vègre church, which are simply breath-taking). Then there are reminders of the country's more modern history. The area was occupied by the Nazis in World War 2 and along the back lanes and in village squares you'll discover the memorials that mark the date each village was liberated by the advancing American troops in 1944.
Want to try a cycling holiday in the Mayenne? How about our Meandering Through Mayenne Tour staying in 3 and 4* hotels with bicycles and equipment, luggage transfers, continental breakfasts and gourmet evening meals included. Our local assistant will help you get the most out of your holiday and will be on hand should you need them throughout your stay.
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