Places to Visit and things to do


Our local town: Gorron - restaurants - Markets - walking - cycling - Cheese, cider and calvados

d-day and the battle for normandy


Basing yourself at La Martinière gives you the opportunity to visit many places within the area.

We are able to assist you with any questions you might have and can recommend these places to you. 

 

Click on a location photo to link you to the Tourist Office website


The local tourist Bocage-Mayennais is open throughout the year with offices in Gorron,

Colombiers-Du-Plessis, Ambrière-les-Vallées and Pontmain.

Click on logo to take you to the Mayenne Tourism website


Domfront

Domfront

A medieval town and castle on a hill with its unusual church and steeple. With numerous restaurants and walks along the river. Annual weekend Medieval festival in August.

mortain

Mortain

A hill town with many restaurants and a spectacular walk down to the waterfall. 
Famous for the Battle of Mortain/Hill 314 - Hitlers last and final counter attack during the Battle for Normandy for those  interested in WW2 history.

Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel Normandy

The regions most famous landmark standing alone in the bay. You can walk the causeway out to the Mont or take the courtesy bus. Along the coast are many seafood restaurants serving fresh oysters and mussels.


Lassay les Chateaux

Lassay Les Chateaux

Small photogenic medieval town with a 14th century castle. Classified as a Petite Cité de Caractère. 

Fougères

Fougeres

Famous for its well preserved castle and botanical gardens. The town has shopping, numerous restaurants and an excellent Saturday food market.

Unfortunately we have recently discovered dogs are not allowed in the botanical gardens or the castle. 

bagnoles de l'orne

Bagnoles Sur Orne

The town is famous for its thermal waters attracting visitors to enjoy the spa,  restaurants, casino and 9 hole golf course.


laval

Largest town in the area with the River Mayenne flowing through it. Good  shopping and an excellent food market on Saturday morning in the old town centre.

The best place for large out of town shopping stores. 

Mayenne

Mayenne

Capital of the region with the River Mayenne flowing below the castle through the town centre.

Sainte-Suzanne

Sainte-Suzanne

A delightful small medieval town with a castle perched on the hill. Wonderful walk down and across the river circling the town with great views of the castle.


cancale - Brittany coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coastal town on the Bay of Mont St. Michel. Famous for its oysters and mussels and its numerous seafood restaurants. North of the town along the Atlantic coast are beautiful beaches in between rocky coves.

 

 

jublains - pays de La Loire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gallo-Roman city town established two thousand years ago. Visit the Roman ruins and the archaeological museum housing the artefacts discovered on the site. 

 

 

St. Hilaire-du-Harcouët

St Hilaire-du-Harcouët market

If you are wishing to stock up with local produce the excellent food market is held on a Wednesday morning.

 

granville - normandy coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An old fishing port on the West Normandy coast. Famous for its 5 day annual carnival in mid-February and the childhood home of couturier, Christian Dior. The house is now a musuem open to the public.

 

 

saint-Céneri-le-gérei - normandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recognised as one of Frances most beautiful villages located in the Orne. Narrow streets to discover artists studios, the church and the tiny chapel du Petit Céneri standing alone in a bend in the river.

AmbriÈres les-Vallées

Enjoy lunch by the River Varenne after a walk around the lake and the small attractive town centre.

Vitré - the gate way to Brittany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A medieval city known as the gateway to Brittany and labelled a 'City of Art and History'. The château is a medieval masterpiece and is a pleasant city to stroll around the ancient streets with many shops and restaurants.

 

brocantes -flea markets / antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many brocantes in the area. Some better than others and not over priced. Overtime we have visited most of them, so happy to advice you on those worth visiting. 

 

Pontmain cathedral

Pontmain Cathedral

In 1871 it is claimed some children saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. A year later the Bishop of Laval recognised this. Hence the decision to construct a cathedral in this tiny village. 


St. malo - brittany

On the north Brittany coast, a major port for centuries and one of the world's great walled cities.  Walk the battlements surrounding the city and enjoy the vibrant streets with shops and restaurants within its walls.

Rennes -  brittany

This university city is the capital of Brittany with a historic centre and one of France's largest gastronomic food markets which is held each Saturday morning until 2pm.

Le Mans - Loire

Pontmain Cathedral

Famous for its 24 hour Motor race held in June. A fabulous museum charts the history of the historical race. The city also has a ancient centre with a Gothic cathedral.



dinan - Brittany

Beautiful old town split into two parts, the upper old town on the hill with the castle and below is the Port de Dinan alongside the River Rance. Great place to wander the narrow streets or take a boat trip up river through locks through a wooded valley. 

Dinard - brittany

Coastal town over looking the bay towards St.Malo. There are numerous sandy beaches along this part of the Brittany coast, of which two are in the town. The town is famous for its Casino and the annual British Film Festival.

la Fosse Arthour

A beautiful spot for long or short walks in the forest or around the lake. For the adventurous rock climbing is available here on the crags. By the car park is a great restaurant offering lunch and dinner or snacks and a drink after a good walk.



Cheese/Cider/Calvados experiences

This region of France is famous for its Cheese, Cider and Calvados and you can visit the orchards, learn about the production and enjoy tasting the local produce. For more details visit the Mayenne Tourism site here.

 

Essential guide to Normandy Cheeses

The Route of the Pear Orchards

Calvados producers in the area 

 

A bit of information - how to spot a Normandy species of cow - They are white and brown and always have a brown patch around their eyes. 


WALKING / Cycling / kayaking / horse riding

Walking - If you enjoy walking in the countryside there are many recognised and well sign-posted tracks along country lanes, through woods, along rivers and around lakes. Helen is a keen hiker and has many books which map out various walks and what to see on them. She is very happy to discuss your options and recommend routes for you ranging from a few kilometres to long distance walks.

 

Cycling - France is renowned for its cycling and some years the 'Tour de France' visits the region. Many of the roads of Mayenne and Normandy are very quiet and with the many back roads it is a cycling paradise. With the aid of a local map your route will take you through some beautiful countryside and villages where you can stop for a drink or a meal. If you are looking for a real adventure there is the Véloscénie - Paris to Mont St.Michel route. You probably don't wish to do the whole 450km, but from Domfront you can join the 80km traffic free route to Mont St.Michel. 

 

Kayaking - Throughout the region are many rivers, some are only a stream but some are major rivers such as the River Mayenne and the lesser River Varenne. Kayaks and canoes can be hired by the hour, half day and full day for you to enjoy paddling or drifting on the flow through the beautiful Mayenne countryside. The hire places will supply you with a map to point out places of interest and villages you can remove your kayak to enable you to go exploring. 

 

Horse Riding - If you would like to go riding, we can recommend an equestrian centre near Mayenne where you can enjoy countryside horse riding tours or if you are happy to drive a bit further it is possible for riding tours along the Bay of Mont St.Michel.


Gorron

Gorron is our local market town, 7 km from La Martinière.

 

You will find a variety of shops which should cover your needs.

 

Super U supermarket ( closed Sunday ) and 7 day/24h Fuel Station 

Mini Supermarket in the main street ( closed Monday )

Small food market Wednesday mornings

Banks with ATM - Credit Mutuel and Credit Agricole

2x Boulangerie

Butchers

Pharmacy

Bar Tabac

Newsagent and Tabac

Estate Agents

DIY Store - La Maison.Fr 

Self service Laundrette - between Super U and the fuel station

Bars and Restaurants

Small Gift, Art and Clothing Shops

Cinema ( English/American films Monday in English ) 

Indoor Swimming Pool

Doctors Surgery

                                                                                       Dentist

                                                                                       Optician

                                                                                       Gendarmerie/Pompier and Paramedics

 


markets in the area

One of the joys of visiting France are the food markets. We have city, town and village markets on most days around us.  

Some are small markets with just a few stalls selling local produce others like Rennes are enormous. 

 

Markets are generally open from 8.00am to 2.00pm.

We have been to many of the markets listed below. 

 

Markets marked with a * we can recommend and ** Highly recommend.

 

MONDAY -       Mayenne

TUESDAY -        Ernée   Landivy   Laval*   Villedieu-les-Poêles*   Sourdeval    Bagnole-de-L’Orne

WEDNESDAY - Gorron   St. Hilaire–Du-Harcouet**   Lassay le Chateau   Flers*

THURSDAY -    Le Teilleul   Chateau Gontier

FRIDAY -           Domfront   Fougerolles-du-Plessis   Vire

SATURDAY -     Fougères**   Laval**   Rennes**   Ambrières-les-Vallées    Bagnole-de-L’Orne   Mortain   Mayenne

 

Rennes - Saturday market (1 hr 15mins. drive) is France’s 2nd largest gastronomic market and we highly recommend a visit. 

2 indoor markets selling meats, cheese, charcuterie, herbs, bread, pastries etc. and outdoors is a large area with vegetable stalls, numerous fish stalls and a flower market. A great day out visiting the market, enjoying lunch in a café and discover the old city.


RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA

If like us, you enjoy quality food at reasonable prices or wanting that restaurant which is a little bit special, we can recommend a number of restaurants, bistros and cafés in the area to suit all tastes and budgets. In our gîtes manuals, we list a selection of restaurants with a brief outline of what type of food they serve, plus price range and a telephone number. If you would like us to make a reservation for you, please ask.

 

For food lovers looking for classic French cuisine, we have discovered Michelin* and Fine Dining restaurants.  Travel towards the Normandy and Brittany coast to find the freshest sea food. Oysters, mussels etc. which were only collected that morning. For an excellent lunch at bargain prices, go to where the locals enjoy their 'Plat de Jour'. Our tip for a good 'Plat de Jour' restaurant is - if there are the plumbers and electrician vans outside during lunch then it is probably good. But you need to be seated soon after 12 noon or all the tables will be taken. Usually costing 15€ per person, offering 3 or 4 course lunch including wine or cider. Or you perhaps you just want a pizza or galettes/crêpes and you will find these restaurants in most town centres.                   

 

                                           


restaurants we have discover and can recommend

The list below details restaurants we have discovered and can recommend. A brief description of each restaurant, where located and approx. time need to drive there. Often in France opening days and times can be sporadic, so would recommend you call ahead to reserve a table. We are happy to make the call for you. Suggested Price Budget is marked to give you an idea of cost of lunch/dinner with drinks. 

€ Low Prices €€€€ High Prices.

To give you an indication of prices:

Generally 'Plat du Jour' lunchtime restaurants are 15€ per person including wine/cider. 

High end restaurants menus can be between 35-60€ per person with aperitifs/wine on top. 

CHEZ VERO - LESBOIS: Small restaurant in Lesbois with a small village shop for basics.  Daily Plat du Jour and Pizzas. Open 7 days - lunchtime and evenings. 5 mins. drive  Prices - €   0243 005476

LE PAPILLON - GORRON: English owned bar/restaurant serving traditional French Plat du Jour and à la carte. Lunch and dinner. Closed on Mondays. 7 mins. drive  Prices - €€   0243 086367

CREPERIE DE MENHIR - GORRON: Small creperie in the town centre near the Mairie. Serving Gallettes, crepes and a small à la carte menu. Check opening days. 7 mins. drive  Prices - €€   0243 039054

CUISINE DE BUBBA - GORRON: Excellent pizzas and kebabs. Opposite the Mairie in the town centre. Only open Thursday. Friday and Saturday. 7 mins. drive  Prices - €   0986 116818

HOTEL DE FRANCE GRILLE - DOMFRONT: Steaks and other french specialities cooked on an open wood fire. Closed on Mondays. Very popular at weekends. 15 mins.  Prices - €/€€   0233 385144

L’ECHAUGUETTE - DOMFRONT: Pizzas, a variety of salads, fish and meat dishes. Open all week except Mondays. Nice small terrace in summer to eat out the back. 15 mins. drive  Prices - €€   0233 377171

AU BAR NORMAND - DOMFRONT: Famous little bar with small terrace opposite the church. Good selection of beers and wines. Serves excellent Thai snacks. 15 mins. drive Prices - €/€€   0233 385129

LE BRICCIUS - BRECÉ: Typical French Lunch time "Plats du Jour". Village on route to Mayenne, south of Gorron. Choice of 5 starters, 5 main courses, dessert with wine or cider. 10mins drive Prices - 

LE RELAIS DE LA VARENNE - AMBRIERES-LES-VALLEES: Newly renovated restaurant with excellent position beside the river. Pizzas, Steaks, Burgers, Pasta, a broad menu choice with Plat du Jour lunchtimes and chef specials.15 mins. drive Prices - €€   0243 049054

LE LION D’OR - FOUGEROLLES-DU-PLESIS: Traditional French Plat du Jour lunch time menu. Salad buffet, choice of mains and dessert includes wine/cider. Only opens lunch time. 12 mins. drive

Prices - €   0243 055376

COM A LA MAISON: LA FERRIERE-AUX-ETANGS: Family run restaurant. Traditional Plat du Jour menu. Great terrace area with tables under the trees beside the lake. Lunch/evenings 30 mins. drive      Prices - € 0233 144872

LE BISTRO - FOUGERES: Small bistro restaurant close to the theatre. A broad French menu with pizzas and burgers or escargots, foie gras, Rognons de Veau etc. 30 mins. drive                                     

Prices - €€   0299 995904

LE MOULIN DE JEAN - CUVES: Perhaps our favourite restaurant. An old Water Mill in a great setting and depending on the season it is possible to eat indoors or out on the terrace. Michelin quality à la carte menu. Prices - €€€/€€€€  40 minutes drive   0233 483929

LA MERE CHAMPLAIN - CANCALE: If visiting Mont St. Michel and the Brittany coast this is one of our favourite seafood restaurants over looking the bay. Great choice of Fresh oysters, mussels, crabs and lobster plus catch of the day. To get a table in the open terrace windows you will need to make a reservation. Very busy at weekends. Prices - €€€/€€€€ 1hr15mins drive   0299 896004

LE QUERRIEN - CANCALE: Another of our favourite restaurants which always has a great atmosphere. Great seafood plus a variety of meat dishes and some great desserts. Again very busy at weekends. Prices - €€€/€€€€ 1hr15mins drive   0299 896456

LA FORGE - FONTAINE-DANIEL: À la Carte restaurant with nice terrace over looking the village green and a small lake. Plat du Jour choice at lunchtime. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Prices - €€/€€€ 30 minutes drive   0243 003485

AUBERGE DE LA MINE - LA FERRIERE-AUX-ETANGS: Michelin * Restaurant about 30 minutes from La Martiniere. Unfortunately no outdoor terrace. Choice of à la Carte with a choice of courses or the 8 course Taster menu. Superb quality from Chef Nobis as you would expect from a Michelin * restaurant.  Prices - 30 minutes drive €€€/€€€€   0233 669110

LA PAUSE DES GENETS - GENETS: Located on the bay of Mont St. Michel. Quirky deco inside with a beautiful Asian themed garden to enjoy lunch or dinner. Excellent modern French cuisine with an Asian touch. Prices - €€€  One hour drive   0233 897238

LA CROIX DE LANDES - DOMFRONT:  Out of town on Bagnoles road. Chef specials daily and set menus. Outdoor terrace. Generally open all week except Mondays especially popular for weekend lunch.

Prices - €€/€€€ 15 minutes drive   0233 383725

AUBERGE DE LA FOSSE ARTHOUR - FOSSE ARTHOUR: Lovely restaurant in a great setting. Located in a gorge surrounded by trees with a rushing stream alongside. Outdoor terrace to enjoy lunch or dinner alongside the stream. Also offers drinks/snacks if enjoying a walk through the woods and around the lake. Lunch/Dinner Prices - €€€ 20 minute drive   0971 722695

CAFE DE SAINT-MALO - ST.MALO: There are so many restaurants in the old walled city, but this one we have returned to a number of times. Wide selection of seafood and meat dishes à la carte or from their Menu du Jour. Prices - €€€/€€€€ 1hr15 mins drive   0299 564675

LE PALATIUM - LAVAL: Restaurant and Bar in the Market Square. Excellent food and place to enjoy a drink - Tuesday to Sunday lunchtime. Very popular on Saturday when the excellent food market is on. Snacks to full a course lunch and dinner available. Prices - €€/€€€  40 minutes drive  0243 532222

LE CAFÉ DE PARIS - FOUGÈRES: In the town centre and very popular with the locals especially in the evening and on Market day (Saturday) Great place to sit outside and people watch. Small menu, but the homemade Quiche is excellent. Prices - €€  30 minutes drive  0299 943938

LE CENTRAL - DOMFRONT: Cafe/Tabac on the road through town towards Bagnoles. Chinese family run, who are very friendly and it has a good atmosphere with a young crowd inside and on the pavement terrace. Snacks available ( Chinese noodles/nems etc. ) Open all week accept Tuesday. Prices - €/€€  15 minutes drive  0233 386559


D-day and the Battle for Normandy

The 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle for Normandy is commemorated in June 2024. During the week 1st-9th June commemorations will take place throughout Normandy. Thousands of visitors are expected and Hotels, BNB's and camp sites have been booked up for many months at very inflated prices. There is so much to see in the area, but roads will be at a standstill, parking near impossible and areas cordoned off should President Biden visit with President Macron. Our suggestion should you wish to visit the beaches, cemeteries, museums etc. is to not to visit during this time period. My personal view is winter is the best time when tourist numbers are low and you can visit hassle free avoiding the crowds. 

 

Below are a few of the main attractions that our guests could visit. Throughout Normandy there are so many things to see, it would be impossible to see all in one day, but below are sites we can recommend in which you could choose a few and make a day out visiting these.  


brief outline of D-Day and the battle for normandy

The Normandy region was made infamous on the 6th June 1944 with the D-Day landings, this was followed by the Battle for Normandy which ended when the Allies crossed the River Seine at the end of August 1944.

The whole area around, but mainly north of La Martinière was the battle ground of the Allied Offensive and German defence. 

The D-Day beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword are about 2 hours north from here. Throughout the region there are numerous museums to visit covering different facets of the sea and airborne landings, the cemeteries for both Allies and Germans and numerous routes to follow to discover this important period in history. From La Martinière it is a great day out and I can advise you on major locations to visit to fill your day.

 

Below are Maps showing the area that the Battle covered and the routes the Americans and British/Commonwealth Armies took to final push the German Army over the River Seine. 

 

 

 

D-day landing Beaches

The map from 1944 (below - Suggested Places to Visit) shows the D-Day landing beaches, the Bridge Head established then the Break Out to push the Germans back over the River Seine. D-Day was on the 6th June 1944 and the Battle for Normandy ended 30th August 1944. With eventually the war in Europe ending 8th May 1945. 

 

The Battle for Normandy casualties were very high from D-Day and over the 3 month battle period.

 

Germany - 30,000 killed - 80,000 wounded and 210,000 missing

USA - 29,000 killed - 106,000 wounded and missing

UK - 11,000 killed - 54,000 wounded and missing

Canada - 5000 killed - 13,000 wounded and missing

France - 12,000 civilians killed and missing

 

 


suggested places to visit


sainte-mere-eglise

US 82nd and 101st Airborne parachuted in to the Cotentin Peninsular on the night of D-Day. The town is famous with its parachutist hanging from the church steeple. An excellent Airborne museum close to the church and market square.  

pointe du hoc

US Rangers famously climbed the cliffs to destroy the German artillery which would have been able to hit troops landing on Omaha and Utah Beach. The cratered area with its gun emplacements was given to the USA by the French people. There is also a small museum to visit at the entrance.

omaha cemetery

The American Omaha Beach Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer contains more than 9000 burials from D-Day and the Battle for Normandy. From the cemetery you can walk down through the dunes, passing German defences to the beach and the Omaha Beach Memorial. 



Arromanche harbour

The Allies built an artificial harbour to land troops, supplies and equipment etc. required for the push inland from their bridgehead. 

Some of the caissons floated over from the UK are still visible off the beach. The interesting Museum of Debarquement is close to the water front in the town.  

longues-sur-Mer battery

The gun battery of four 152mm naval guns is located between Omaha and Gold Beach. The gun battery was major threat to troops landing on the beaches and ships out at sea. The battery was damaged by Allied bombing on the morning of D-Day. The battery is open to the public to view the original guns.

bayeux  commonwealth  war cemetery

Bayeux Commonwealth War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in France with 4144 commonwealth burials and 500 of other nationalities. Opposite the cemetery is the Musee Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie, covering the D-Day preparations and the Battle for Normandy.



pegasus bridge

Very close to the Portsmouth/Ouistreham ferry.  Gliders landed close to the bridge and was the first objective taken on the night of D-Day by British 2nd Airborne. The original bridge was replaced in 1994 but at the museum the original bridge can be seen. Café Gondrée the first building liberated is open for meals and snacks. 

merville battery

The gun battery was taken on the night of D-Day by British Paratroopers. Of 600 men tasked with its destruction only 150 made the attack and capturing the guns. After their withdrawal the Germans re-manned 2 of the guns and remained there until the German Army withdrew on August 17th. An informative museum and the gun emplacements can be visited. 

british normandy memorial

The Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer overlooking Gold Beach was unveiled on the 6th June 2021, the 77th Anniversary. The Memorial names 22,442 people from 30 countries under British Command who were killed during the Battle for Normandy from the 6th June to 31st August 1944.



dead Man's corner

Headquarters of  German Paratroopers before being taken by the American 101st Airborne. Currently a museum dedicated to the German 'Green Devils' who held out for 3 days. The site was named by American soldiers as a tank remained at the road junction for a number of days with its dead commander hanging from the turret. 

 

La cambe German Cemetery

La Cambe close to Omaha beach is the largest German War Cemetery in Normandy. 21,200 German soldiers lie here. After the war 12,000 German dead were moved here from approximately 1400 field burials across Normandy. The site is maintained by volunteers of the German War Graves Commission.  

french Civilians memorial falaise

The Falaise Pocket marked the end of the Battle for Normandy as the German Army was decimated by Allied air attacks attempting to retreat across the River Seine. This museum is a memorial and tells the story to the 150,000 Normans who had to evacuate their homes and the estimated 20,000 French killed in bombardments by the Allies.  



The map below shows the advancing routes taken by the Allies during the Battle for Normandy. It also shows the German final counter attack at Mortain before retreating via the Falaise Pocket in their attempt to cross the River Seine, north of Paris.