Under an hour away…
St Fraimbault: A stunning, award-winning flower village just a couple of miles or so from your holiday rental at La Passoniere. Walk round the lake or try out the pedalos. Dancing by the lake in the summer months.
Domfront: Picturebook views, narrow cobbled streets with half-timbered houses and some of the best-preserves fortifications in France. Oh, and an English prison and calvados (apple brandy) tasting sessions!
Bagnoles de l’Orne: Gorgeous spa town set in the heart of a huge forest. Wander round the lake, win (or lose!) a few euros at the casino, eat at numerous top class restaurants (including a Michelin star one) and then chill out with a massage. What a cracking day out!
Champsecret: Complete 16th Century wood-fired ironworks with blast furnace, Walloon forge and ruins of a splitting mill unique in Europe.
Lonlay l’Abbey: Benedictine abbey founded at the beginning of the 11th Century. Feeling peckish? Then how about a visit to the local biscuit factory? Butter-tastic!
The River Mayenne: The towpath is one of the most beautiful green ways in France. An 85km riding and walking route. Totally safe and open to all non-motorised traffic. Go with the flow and hire a river cruiser (no licence needed) and discover sites you’d otherwise miss. Stop off at a little restaurant by the river, or in one of the towns and villages you’ll pass through.
Mayenne Castle Museum: Overlooking the river, the castle is more than 1000 years old and one of the best preserved early medieval secular buildings in Europe. Take an interactive tour of the museum and discover remarkable Carolingian remains.
Under 90 minutes away…
Jublains Roman town: Imagine yourself in Noviodunum, a Roman capital created in the heart of the Gaulish territory of the Aulerci Diaulitae. See sophisticated Roman baths with hot and cold water plunge pools; a vast tiered theatre; a temple dedicated to worship; streets arranged in a perfect chequerboard pattern; a fortress.
The caves of Saulges: Somes 400,000 years of history in these unique prehistoric caves. Twenty caves have been found so far, with only two accessible to the public (except in winter): Margot’s Cave, which is famous as a home for bats in winter, and the Rochefort Cave, where the most interesting recent archaeological finds have been made.
World’s largest milk and cheese museum: The André Besnier museum in Laval tells you everything about milk and milk products, with a special area devoted to cheese. See an exceptional collection of milk churns and an equally impressive collection of Camembert cheese labels! Workshops and tasting as well.
Gallo-Roman baths: Entrammes (which means ‘between the waters’) sits between three rivers, the Mayenne, Jouanne and Ouette and began life as a Gallo-Roman town like Jublains. The baths have four rooms in a row – cold baths, a temperate room, a steam room and hot baths heated by means of a hypocaust.
Fontaine-Daniel: A village in harmony with its surroundings whose origins lie in the textile industry. The houses built for workmen give the village its own unique character. Mayenne Textiles (Toiles de Mayenne) have been made here for 200 years, transforming bobbins of thread into finished cloth of quality for home furnishing fabrics.
Robert Tatin Museum: Imagine a place inhabited by giant sculptures, a place like no place you’ve ever seen before, where ‘Notre Dame de Tout le Monde’ sits enthroned between the ‘Gateway of the Moon’ and the ‘Gateway of the Sun’. Tatin’s house at Cossé-le-Vivien has been turned into a museum, its 1200sqms testimony to the artist who was a painter, a sculptor, a ceramicist and a builder – all at the same time.
The Ark Animal Refuge: By visiting here you will be helping to care for animals that have been rescued by the Ark Refuge team. Behind every animal there’s a story – the story of an encounter with human beings that turned out badly.
Villedieu les Poêles: No ordinary French town. God’s Town of the Pans is crammed with saucepans, frying pans, kettles and clocks. Even dolphins and huge helmets for deep-sea divers. Metal in every shape and size. It even has its own bell foundry, with keyring bells weighing 20gms to behemoths of 6000kgs. Sure to appeal to everyone!!
Fougeres: Medieval town overlooked by what is claimed to be Europe’s biggest fortress and the gateway to Brittany. A walk around the ramparts is not to be missed.
Dinan: One of the most attractive and best-preserved small towns in Brittany. With its 3km-long ramparts, half-timbered houses, attractive port and cobbled streets filled with art galleries and craft shops, it’s worth a day of anyone’s time.
Thrill-seeking: Create an unforgettable Mayenne Moment with flying, microliting, ballooning, karting, rail-biking, treetop adventure trails and climbing, to name a few.
Under two hours away… and well worth it!
Mont-Saint-Michel: One of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. Lying in the bay where Normandy and Brittany meet and around 90 minutes drive from La Passoniere, it has been a monastery, a citadel and a prison and is more than 1300 years old. It’s second only to the Eiffel Tower as France’s best-known landmark.
Bayeux Tapestry: Just two hours away from your French holiday cottage at La Passoniere is the world famous 70ft long tapestry depicting how William the Conqueror and his Norman army invaded England, gave King Harold an eyeful of arrow and claimed the throne of England. An amazing visit not to be missed.
The Normandy Landing Beaches: June 6, 2019 marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy. Follow the Normandy coast, going from above Caen in the east and close to Sainte-Mère-Eglise in the west, to learn all about the most daring and world-changing of naval operations.