French property watch: Why buy in Mayenne and what prices to expect

Gently rolling hills and dairy farms dominate this north-western department in the Pays de la Loire

Laval is the the departmental capital of Mayenne; grey slate roofs are a feature on tradition and modern houses
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Departmental capital: Laval

Main cities/towns: Mayenne, Château-Gontier

The department takes its name from the river Mayenne.

Its three main towns – Laval, in the centre, Château-Gontier in the south, and Mayenne in the north – are all situated on its banks.

Traditionally, it was always an important transport crossroads, being at the intersection of what used to be the main east/west Paris to Brittany road, and the north/south Caen to Angers road.

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Can feel colder than neighbouring departments

Its countryside, mainly made up of gently rolling hills and shallow valleys, also marks the transition between Brittany, Normandy and the Loire valley.

The north of the department is within 30km of Mont-Saint-Michel at its closest point.

Dairy farms dominate, with Laval having one of the largest milk processing factories in France.

The average altitude is 150m and in spring, particularly, temperatures sometimes feel colder than in neighbouring departments closer to the sea.

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Road, rail and air links

Transport links are more developed towards Paris than to the north, with the A81 autoroute passing Laval and putting it 2hrs45 from the capital, and continuing through to Rennes.

Rennes has an international airport a little over an hour from Laval, if using the autoroute.

From here, there are easyJet flights to London twice a week in winter and up to five times a week in summer.

Meanwhile, TGV trains from Paris take the same transport corridor, with services from Paris Montparnasse taking between 1hr15 and 1hr50.

Property prices reflect the rural nature of the department

Houses in Mayenne are traditionally stone-built with grey slate roofs, and modern houses mainly follow the same grey roof standard.

Prices reflect the rural nature of the department, and large properties, with land included and seemingly in good order, are available in the €150,000 to €200,000 price range.

You can still buy property under €50,000 in need of renovation with big gardens

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