Laval is in the Mayenne!

Ok so this is an update text and will keep the black and white format . I have several posts with pictures on Laval in my blog and this one was sort of an introduction to the city we like. Hope you enjoy the post and again thanks for reading me over the years!

And on a very rainy even grail and humid evening in my gorgeous Morbihan , I bring something close by again. This is the Mayenne dept 53 and Laval is the city. A nice one and my old boss native town lol! nice guy…Laval is in the Pays de la Loire and about 300 km from Paris. It was historically in the province of Maine, in the Breton and Angevin frontiers and not far from Normandie.

Laval is on the road axis linking Paris to Brest on the autoroute A81 and on the rail lines of Paris Montparnasse to Brest, been the gare de Laval served by the TGV Atlantique. It is also served by the TER Pays de la Loire going between Rennes and Le Mans or Nantes. You passed by quaint towns like Ernée and Craoin and even Fougéres. The course of the Mayenne river goes along the N162 road connecting Laval to Mayenne and even Angers. The road D31 connects Laval with Fougéres and Ernée. These cities I go thru many times on my runs to Paris. Locally, the bus service is handle by TUL and on the department of the Mayenne by Pégase, but never taken them so verify.

The city center is quant old and divided in two by the Mayenne river. The pedestrian streets with lots of shopping is around the Place du 11 novembre. The left bank is more residential . The most notable neighborhoods are between the Avesniéres on the south of city center and the Cathedral on the north around the Place de Hercé or along the rue du Lycée. The green spaces such as the Jardin de la Perrine and the quays on the left bank are also very chic.


A bit of history I like:

Laval is a relatively young city  for France, not existing before the 11C and mentioned for the frist time as Vallis Guidonis in the 13C or 14C meaning the valley of Guy reference to Lord Guy I, the first lord of  Laval.  There was a castle here very primitive reaching the Cathedral with a dirt moat controlling the access to the castle; the Basilica of Notre Dame d’Avesniéres was founded in the 12C by Lord Guy II of Laval.  The castle by 1206 extended to a plateau where it was the donjon and a ramparts wall of 1100 meters long. Guy XVII had ordered built the new castle around 1542 and it was renovated by 1747. Lord  Guy XVII was a member of the court of king François I and the House of Laval.

Many constructions were done following on the prosperous period of Laval, such as the Monastery of Ursulines, Monastery of Benedictines and the Church of the Capucins, all destroyed during the French revolution. During the wars of the Vendée (against the French revolution) the city is taken by the Royalists in 1793 in the battle of Laval, they were trying to reach Granville to receive support from England but the expedition to Normandy failed and the revolutionaries overtook Laval later in the year eventually losing the siege of Angers and defeated by Republican armies.

Early 1871, the Prussian army are at the doors of the city but by no known reason took back and did not entered. This miracle according to local legend is attributed to the Virgin Mary that shows up to the children of Pontmain in January 17. In the morning of August 6 1944 the troops of General Patton US 3rd army arrived at Laval and face the offensive to take the city from the Nazis, the dynamite the bridges over the Mayenne river but by 15H or 3pm the city is liberated. The General Bradley set up command at the Castle of Bois Gamats. It is from the nearby aerodrome that he gives orders to General Leclerc on August 22nd to advance towards Paris, the step needed for the final liberation of Paris!

Things to see that I like:

Laval is a city full of heritage by the river and around town there at least 37 Religioius statues  dating from the 15C to 20C put in niches around the city center and  monuments as grand as the La Jolie by Louis Derbré, statue of Ambroise Paré by David d’Angers, and the one on Alfred Jarry by Ossip Zadkine , the one on Beatrix de Gâvre or Ubu roi and the monument to the fallen of the WWI dessigned by Hyacinthe Perrin; the city also has a Wallace fountain, a music kiosk from 1879 and the Morris columns.  Harder to find are the fountains at the Place des Quatre Docteurs-Bucquet and the one at place Saint Tugal dating from the 18C.

The wonderful Château de Laval, over the old town with two different buildings one the old or Vieux Château and the New or Château Neuf. All along worth for visiting here. The first old castle is from the medieval period built in granite and chalk, it has a court, chapel, donjon, and housing body. The Chapel is from the 12C and the Donjon and housing body are from the 13C .  The exterior renovated in the 15C and 16C and some rooms redone at the same time.  the new castle has a wing on a gallery in the renaissance style done in 1542.  It was decorated in 1747 and enlarged by a lateral building and a wing from around 1854. While the French revolution the old castle became a prison and the tribunals were in the new castle. The prison was purchased by the city in 1909 and renovated later change into a museum after 1920. The Justice palace left the Renaissance wing in 1996. There is a stair seen in the old castle that came from the Abbey of Clermon.

You can still see some parts of the ramparts that enclosed the castle with the towers Renaise, and Belot Oisel and the gate or Porte Beucheresse. The walls you see dates from the 13C and the round walk or chemin de ronde on the machicolis was added in the 15C . You see around it many wooden houses dating from the 15C and 16C especially those around the streets, Grande rue, rue des Chevaux, rue de Chapelle, and rue Renaise.  Other houses built in the 16C and houses with decorations on them can be seen by the streets rue Ambroise-Paré, rue de Paradis , and the ruelle Boulain.

There are some wonderful architecture here and well worth the walk within history. At the Place de Hercé you see the Hôtel Périer du Bignon dating from 17771, Hôtel du Bas du Gast from 1742, Hôtel Dubois de Beauregard from 1772, and along the rue du Lycée see the Hôtel du Plessis d’Argentré from 1771. Moving right along wonderful Laval, you come to the Hôtel Busson aka Grande Maison built middle 16C with a side court, semi open to the street showing the different levels of the house. In 1619 it was renovated and enlarged and finally purchased in 1791 by François Busson, Sir of Chambellay where he was assassinated in 1819. By 1821, the house is purchased by Thérése Rondeau, founder of the Sisters of the misercorde of Notre Dame of Laval, her tomb is in the garden, and today it is a retirement home. There is a wonderful street axis that includes the rue de Paris, rue de la Paix, rue du Général de Gaulle and rue de Bretagne done early in the 19C to get around the old town and show a new city center. These works allowed the construction of the bridge or Pont Aristide Briand or Pont Neuf built between 1812 and 1824 with several nice buildings like the Hôtel de Ville or city hall and the municipal theater. You see nice mansions done after 1850 by the rue de Paris and rue de Bretagne.

You need to see the Cathedral on the gothic angevin style as Cathedral de la Holy Trinity or Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité ,and the Basilica of Notre Dame d’Avresniéres  in the roman style architecture. This Church was first mentioned in the 11C and offered to the sisters Benedictines a century later; they had it rebuilt but took several years because the War of  Hundred Years, and the arrow was done in 1538.  It goes into a bad deterioration and it became necessary to rebuilt identically finishing in 1887 . The Church of the Cordeliers was attached to the convent of the Franciscans built end of the 14C  but added very important baroque additions in the 17C like the porch and the altar. You come to see interesting sites such as the shower baths of Laval opened in 1927 with an Art Déco style and a granite façade and glass and ceramics in the interior were added after the bombings of 1944.The Viaduc crossing the Mayenne river done in 1856 and 25 meters high. The jardin de la Perrine with a high level promenade been an old private park purchased by the city in 1885 that is surrounded by a mansion from the 18C.  The park is share by a French and English style garden and a rosary and also has an orangerie from the 19C as well as a petting animal zoo with goats ,ducks and rabbits. You ,also, will find the tomb of Douanier Rousseau.

There are museums such as the Vieux Château museum  known for the collection of Naîf arts with works of Douanier Rousseau  and others from the same movement such as Jean-Joseph Sanfourche, Séraphine Louis, Lucien Le Guern, and Robert Tatin; and now call the naïf art museum but has as well a collection of portraits from the 19C and by Charles Landelle, Auguste Anastasi, and Guillaume Fouace as well as illustrations by Léopold Lelée , designs of old Laval, engravings, weapons and ceramics.  It has in addition a collection dedicated to ethnology of Africa and Asia with a stamp of Utagawa Kunisada and historic relics such as those from Saint Tugdual and the work bag of Ambroise Paré.

The Sciences Museum in a building from the end of the 19C has over 130K objects and especially fossils as it specialise in paleonthalogy, as well as herbs, grains, eggs, minerals ,shelling, bones of animals and birds , reptiles, etc. It has the collection going from the paleolithic to the high middle age years  including points of arrows, harpoons, jewelry and swords as well as insects and old intruments like telescopes etc , as well as curiosities. Then, the smaller school museum of Perrine in the mansion in the middle of the Jardin de la Perrine open on temporary expositions and courses of plastic arts and applied arts are given.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this interesting city that is worth a detour are

The city of Laval on its heritage:

The Laval tourist office:

The Mayenne dept 53 tourist office on Laval:

Hope it helps. Enjoy the city of Laval, worth the detour and surprisintly nice. And remember happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Laval is in the Mayenne!”

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