Listed amongst the most beautiful detours in France, the thousand-year-old town of Château-Gontier, on the banks of the River Mayenne, combines built heritage and attractive landscapes.
Its historic centre in the upper town, with narrow streets dotted with private mansions, gives you a glimpse of its rich past as a linen cloth trading town. Built in the 11th century, the Romanesque church of St John the Baptist is the oldest church in Château-Gontier, and boasts a remarkable crypt. Not far from there, at the intersection between La Grande Rue and Rue Jean Bourré, stands the Hôtel Fouquet. It was built in the 17th century and is now home to the museum of Art and Archaeology.
On the left bank of the Mayenne, in the Faubourg quarter, stands the old Ursulines convent, an architectural gem founded in the 17th century which is now used as a cultural centre. On a tour of the convent, you can admire the Jesuit-style Church of the Trinity, the cloister and convent buildings, and the elegant 15th-century lords' manor house of La Touche.
Enjoy a relaxing stroll in one or more of the many floral areas in Château-Gontier. Don't miss the Garden of the Edge of the World, near the Church of St John the Baptist, with its diverse species, 17th-century icehouse and beautiful view of the Mayenne Valley, and the Scent Garden near the river, full of aromatic plants and fragrant flowers.
Château-Gontier is a commune of the Pays de la Loire located in the department of Mayenne. Populated by a little more than 12,000 inhabitants, it takes place in the Haut-Anjou, about thirty kilometers from Laval.
Known for hosting the largest calf market in Europe, in the 19th century the city was the home of a thermal spa created by Dr. Henri-Louis Bayard. Since the project had difficulty in establishing itself, there are only remnants of beach-style houses.
Today, Château-Gontier is mainly known for its tourist activity. The city has a very important architectural and historical heritage that testifies to a glorious and rich past. Its animal park also attracts many visitors who come to discover the specialties of Mayenne.
Built in the 17th century, the former convent of the Ursulines takes place around a 15th century mansion. Both classified as Historical Monuments, they now serve as a Conservatory of Music, Theater and Tourist Office. Remains of the chapel and ancillary buildings have also been inscribed in the Historic Monuments.
While walking in Château-Gontier, it is possible to discover several mansions: the hotel of the Tertre de Sancé of the 15th century and inscribed with the Historic Monuments, the hotel of Lantivy of the XVIIth century and classified to the Historic Monuments, the hotel of Saint -Luc of the seventeenth century and inscribed, or the manor of Montviant. Built between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was listed in the Historic Monuments.
Built in the 11th century and restored in the 19th century, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church has been classified as a Historic Monument. Several colored frescoes have been updated in the nave and in the transept.
Do not miss the halls listed in the Historical Monuments, or the famous Café de la Mairie which reveals an interior decor made by the ceramist Schuller and the painter Pierre-Louis Richard at the beginning of the 20th century. It has been listed in the Historic Monuments, as well as the remains of the former 13th century castle, the former 17th century Louvre and the Moulinet Chapel, built in the 16th century.
Classified as Historical Monuments, the chapel of the Genesteil dates from the twelfth century. Today it serves as a place of exhibitions for contemporary artists.
Set in a 17th-century mansion, the Museum of Art and Archeology features medieval, antique and contemporary collections.
During a walk you will appreciate to discover the source of the old baths of Château-Gontier. It is located in the heart of a medieval garden on the Quai-de-Lorraine and you can discover some vestiges of seaside houses.
The town of Château-Gontier has four beautiful flowers in the flower-filled towns and villages of France. It boasts some beautiful green spaces and the Bout-du-Monde promenade offers beautiful views of the surrounding area.
The town also unveils the Saint-Rémi church of the thirteenth century, or an old bridge built in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Animal park, the Refuge de l'Arche allows to discover more than 1,200 animals collected on the spot to live in peace. Bears, lions, tigers, monkeys or birds are visible throughout the year.
The markets of Château-Gontier are held on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays morning. A Christmas market is also offered in December.
In August, place for the fiestas of the Saint-Fiacre with a garage sale, wrestling, fireworks, a petanque contest, or a funfair.
The third weekend of August, Château-Gontier hosts a festival of blues music.
Comics Festival, Once upon a time in the Country of Château-Gontier takes place every year at the beginning of October.
Press'tival Info is a festival dedicated to journalism organized in November.