At one time, the River Mayenne was busy with commercial activity. During the nineteenth century, 30 locks were built between Laval and the town of Mayenne as part of a plan to make a navigational link to the English Channel.
This never materialized, and nowadays the beautiful river from which the department of Mayenne takes its name is used mainly for pleasure.
From Ambrieres-les-Vallee in the north to Daon in the south, the meandering Mayenne has 85km of towpaths ideal for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders.
Look for the hand-powered ferry (bac) at the little hamlet of Menil which takes walkers and cyclists to and fro. Go fishing at many first class locations with plenty of opportunities for bird-watching. Take a passenger boat or hire a motor boat, canoe or kayak at places such as Laval, Mayenne, Daon or Chateau-Gontier to enjoy Mayenne’s riverside villages and chateaux, passing woodlands and agricultural countryside renowned for its cheese and apples.
This huge 235,000 hectare park straddles the Normandy and Western Loire borders including the department of Mayenne and is a region of ancient forests - the home of boar and deer - and a diverse landscape of moorland, forest, rivers and streams.
The ideal area for outdoor activities; mountain biking is popular on the range of hills around the River Sarthe known as the Alpes Mancell - though they seldom rise above 400m.
The Foret (forest) de Pail in Mayenne’s north eastern corner has a wealth of way-marked trails to off-the-beaten-track destinations amongst quiet woodlands and gently rolling hills crossed by pretty rivers.