At the gateway to Brittany, Laval sits between Le Mans and Rennes, and between the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel and the châteaux of the Loire Valley. It is also an ideal stopping point between the seaside resort of the Atlantic and the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy. Whether you follow the backbone of the department, the river Mayenne, or you wander the land of Henri Rousseau, travel to Laval to discover its rich cultural history.
Laval grew around its château and its ancient Gothic bridge over the Mayenne. You can discover the area by boat: why not try your hand at punting along the river? Or if fishing floats your boat, there are plenty of pike, carp and roach for you to catch in its waters.
Built during the 11th century during the rule of the Dukes of Anjou over the region, the Old Château de Laval has stood up to various Breton and Norman invasions. These days the vieux château houses the Museum of Naive Art in Laval, which is dedicated to the painter Henri Rousseau, known as le Douanier ("the customs officer"). This self taught artist was at first ridiculed by his peers, but was later recognised by Picasso as a genius. Here you can see his studio and his works in all their exotic and mysterious splendour.
The Biennale of Naive Art in Laval echoes this painting tradition.
Ever avant-garde, Laval saw the birth of the playwright Alfred Jarry in 1873. With his play Ubu Roi, he was defined as the precursor to surrealism and the theatre of the absurd. This great inventor of Pataphysics is celebrated annually in Laval at the Uburlesques festival: come and discover the cult of the "hurluberlu"…
Laval has certainly produced some eccentric characters. In 1962, another artist chose Laval as his home: Robert Tatin moved to Cossé-le-Vivien. Prepare to be surprised and flummoxed by Tatin's surrealism, at the Robert Tatin Museum. On the avenue of giants, 20 monumental sculptures lead you to the museum building. You'll recognise sculpted portraits of influential people, from Vercingétorix the Gaul to Picasso, via Joan of Arc. Eclectic and avant-garde, Robert Tatin combines megalithic Breton construction with Aztec style in his work. This intriguing cocktail draws the viewer into a strange and non-conformist world.
In this land of cheese, for an unusual and interesting visit, check out Lactopôle. From dairy farming to cutting-edge technology, learn the secrets of the dairy industry.
Discover these hidden gems of Laval's picturesque and unique landscape.
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