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2 weeks in Laval France

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I will be traveling to France for 17 days departing June 27th returning July 14th, spending 10 days in Laval for my job during this time I will have two opportunities to see some sights outside of of Laval. I'll have a weekend in the middle of my business trip then another 3 days at the end. Of course I wish to see Paris but what else to see? Thinking Loire Valley or Normandy. Also any chance to do some evening sight seeing near or in Laval after 5pm. Would it be best to rent a car or use public transportation?
My interests are museum's historical architecture, photographing the scenery. And great food.

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    One of the best things about Laval is the chemin de halage that runs north and south along the Mayenne river. Very walkable and interesting once it gets you into the countryside.

    You should be able to find maps and information about the chemin de halage at the tourist office.

    Since the days are long at this time of year, you can get in a lot of walking after work. If you can find public transportation to a point along the canal either north or south, you could take the bus out and then walk back.

    Or you can rent a bike and cover more territory. There are lots of bikers and walkers and people fishing on this trail.

    Laval has a nice small market on Tuesday at Place des Acacias. There’s a bigger one on Saturday which we haven’t been to.

    Near the Place des Acacias is one of my favorite bakeries in France. At La Maison du Pain the baker produces a variety of breads, including the standards, but also does a few slow-rising breads that I find delicious. You buy these by the slice, by weight. I get sick of baguettes and am always looking for slow-rising breads everywhere we go in France but I rarely find them. La Maison du Pain, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 place de la Tremoille, Laval. Their pastries and viennoiseries are gorgeous and delicious.

    Downhill from the Place des Acacias, toward the park with the merry-go-round, there’s a cheese shop with a great selection.

    For when you have a car, Saint-Suzanne is a well-kept medieval village in the Mayenne.

    We really liked nearby Chateau-Gontier, 31 km south of Laval along the river. There’s a very good market there Thursday morning. C-G is one of the top Villages Fleuris in France, has a centre ville with half-timbered houses, has beautiful parks, and makes good use of its position on the river.

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