Pays de la Loire – Mayenne
This rural department, named after the river Mayenne, borders the regions of Brittany and Normandy. Mayenne is known for its rich history, nature and slate roofs. Mayenne provides many diverse species of flora and fauna with its largely unspoilt landscapes and gentle rolling hills and river valleys dotted with rural properties. Mayenne boasts more inhabited châteaux than any other department and provides a variety of architectural treasures, including the historic art-filled riverside town of Laval, the main Gallo-Roman site in Western France, Sainte-Suzanne (voted one of France’s most beautiful villages), to name a few. Mayenne is easy to access via the Channel ports, a direct TGV line to Paris and flights from nearby Ille-et-Vilaine.
Normandy – Manche
Taking its name from the French name for the English Channel, this department includes the Cotentin Penisula which extends into the Channel, down to the famous island and monastery of Mont St Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The historical past from WWII is displayed throughout many museums and at the landings beaches themselves, and there are many commemorative areas in the department. The countryside is lush and green, with sandy beaches and marshland. The capital St Lô being famous for horse breeding and training.
Normandy – Orne
The only land-locked department in Normandy, Orne is perhaps best known for the village of Camembert and the production of Camembert cheese. Orne is a rural department boasting the famous national Stud at Haras-du-Pin, with scenic countryside, rivers and forests. The capital town is Alençon; an important town in the 10th-11th centuries best known for lace-making. The only thermal spa town in the whole of northwestern France, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, is hidden away in the department and provides wonderful examples of the Belle Epoque period as well as being a welcoming place to relax and be pampered.
Brittany - Ille-et-Vilaine
The most easterly department in Brittany, Ille-et-Vilaine, is named after its two main rivers whose confluence is in Rennes, the capital city of this department and region. This department offers the stunning Emerald Coast, boasting the biggest tides in Europe at Saint-Malo, Dinard and Cancale. These provide beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunity for shellfish gathering at low tide. The area is well-known for its gastronomic delights and the oyster market at Cancale is not to be missed. The department is largely rural, offering many inland historic towns such as Fougères, Vitré and not forgetting the splendours of Rennes.