When I googled Laval I got a number of mentions of Laval in Canada. Both Canada and France has a city called Laval. I changed my Google search to Laval, France. I had no knowledge about Laval which is approximately 300 km away from Paris in the West of France. I visited my friend Juliette who lives in a suburb close to the city of Laval. She was my roommate’s friend and lived in the same dorm building as me. And we became friends. Laval is much less crowded and is not a tourist hub at all this is why I loved spending almost a week in the region. So here’s my list of things I got to do in Laval, Maryanne.
Go see the Castle (Laval Château)
There’s a medieval castle which is easy to access. Unlike most castles with millions of stairs this one doesn’t require a mini hike to get to it. Archaeologists have dug up various items around the castle which are dated from the medieval period. There are posters explaining the significance of the finds around the castle. All in French but, I had Juliette to translate and there’s always Google translate. The Laval Château was built between the 11th and 16th century period. The castle is home to the Native art exhibition which is free to see when I visited.
Meander around the old quarter
Not too far from the main square and the castle is the old city quarter. The half timbered facades of the houses date back to medieval times. The streets are paved with cobblestones adding to the charm of this part of Laval. There are bars and restaurants dotted around the area including one called Le Johannesburg I still don’t know why a restaurant in France happens to be named after a city in South Africa. Johannesburg is regarded by many as the economic capital of South Africa. Anyways back to the point if you watched Beauty and the Beast the houses will remind you of the houses Belle walks past in the animated version of the film.
Visit the Garden Perrine Garden
Perrine garden is a stylish cultivated garden. It is located on a slope and its popular among the locals. It has a tiny maze inside. There’s also a tree which bears books instead of fruit. Visitors can leave books or take some to read for free. And red frames scattered around it where you can take striking photos. There are rabbits, birds and other animals which you can view. The garden is well looked after
Cathedral of Holy trinity
One of the best things about Europe is the churches. Laval’s church doesn’t disappoint. Entry is free and the church is another historic building. The stained glass windows are striking albeit a smaller church. The church is more modest than most of the churches I saw in Europe and I liked that about it. The lack of a gold leaf interior made the stained glass windows more striking.
The old bridge has been around for ages and it photographs well. Given that it spans across the river which runs below it.
The wash house
The wash house where women in Laval went to wash their clothes before the modern washing machine burst on to the scene still stands. I will never forget the look on the face of the guy who worked there when my friend asked if I could get a tour in English. He was horrified and ultra nervous I quickly told her to tell him I didn’t need a guided tour. Instead Juliette was my guide. The wash house is one of the few remaining wash houses in France as these places were destroyed or left to crumble after washing machines became popular. The old metal wash tubs are still inside. And black and white documentary clips play in the back ground discussing the wash houses history. There are plaques as well. Everything is in French so be aware of that.
There’s not much to see along the banks of the river. It’s still a must do as the boat you can take photos of the old bridge. I’m the kind of person who adores being on a boat so I didn’t mind that the tour was in French only. It’s a longish trip and I got to take many travel pics.
Not too far from the city center are the old walls which used to protect the city. The remaining parts of the walls can be viewed. I visited in August and also got to see many blooming flowers all around the place. It was gorgeous.
You can see the painters’ birth place which stands close to the church, right next to it in fact. The Beucheress gate is the name of this medieval site. The old wall looks like part of a castle. Some of Henri Rousseau’s paintings are part of the Native art exhibit. There’s a stone which looks like a grave stone dedicated to him in Perrine garden. In front of Laval Castle there’s a modern art piece which looks like Rousseau. This is not surprising as Henri Rousseau was born in Laval and became a well known painter.
I went to the same bakery almost every day. There’s a whole selection of French cakes and obviously the wildly popular baguette. I visited au pêché gourmand. If you are in the Bonchamp suburb of Laval go to Bakery dairou. If you are wanting delectable macroons try, id sucrées.
How to get there
I traveled by bus from Paris to Laval. The bus I took is called the Oui Bus I departed from the Paris Porte Maillot bus stop which isn’t far from the Arch of Victory. The bus I took departed at 14:30 and arrived in Laval’s train stations parking lot at 18:40. I paid €15 from Paris to Laval and €12 from Laval back to Paris. I took the Flixbus from Essen to Paris and then again from Paris to Essen when I had to return. The cost of my ticket to Paris was about €22.00 and the return ticket was €22.50. I arrived in Laval on the 7th of August and left on 12th back in 2016.
Oui Bus is a good way to get to Laval as it’s the cheapest option and the bus staff is friendly. I was welcomed to France by the bus drivers and told I came from very far away. They also wished me a good journey. Oui buses also have wifi and charging ports.
To check for ticket prices etc go to: https://www.ouibus.com/routes/paris-laval
At the time when I traveled to Laval there was no Flixbus line operating to Laval there is one now.
Hotline: +49 (0)30 300 137 300
The train does knock off a few hours from travel time although the tickets cost more. You can be lucky if you book ahead and at awkward hours If I were to leave right now it from the Paris Gare Monparnasse stop it would cost me €50 on Friday at 12:00pm it would be €13.
For more information about the route, fares etc see: https://en.oui.sncf/en/train/paris/laval/
Tourist information office:
Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to comment. Right now I can’t caption my images because I’m posting from my phone. Having some issues with the WordPress app.
xxx Nikki xxx