Mayenne is a department in Pays de la Loire. It’s named after the River Mayenne and has three districts, 32 townships and 261 municipalities. The capital and largest city is lovely Laval which features a beautiful chateau, weekly fabulous market, cultural venues and many good restaurants. Mayenne has a warm and temperate climate, stunning countryside and borders with Normandy (Departments of Manche and Orne) and Brittany (Ile-et-Vilaine department). And, if you’re looking for a tranquil area, where property prices are tempting then check out out property guide to Mayenne.
Edward North from Yorkshire is now a local. Having often holidayed with his wife in France, they dreamed of moving there, and when he was offered redundancy, saw a chance to make the dream come true. His wife agreed to give up her high pressure job and they searched for their ideal property. They chose Mayenne because it fitted their criteria for beautiful countryside and a great choice of relatively cheap properties. They found their ideal home which had lots of land, big barns and no close neighbours. “We fancied a change in pace of life and we have certainly found it here” says Edward. He now works for Leggett Immobillier, the award winning agency which specialises in local agents who speak English. We asked Edward to tell us why Mayenne is an idea place for expats to consider their good life in France…
Property Guide to Mayenne
What is the appeal of Mayenne for buyers?
Mayenne is a varied department with flattish arable land in the south and more rolling hills to the north. It has busy, thriving towns, a rich history such as the grottes at Saulges with their cave paintings from pre-history. There’s also the 2000 year old Roman capital of Jublains as well as a wealth of attractive villages. It is not expensive to buy here and, being somewhat undiscovered, offers lots of variety without the throngs of people you might find elsewhere.
What’s the best thing about living in Mayenne?
The best thing about living in Mayenne is its welcome. Foreigners and French got together years ago to create the Association Euro-Mayenne. This is an organisation set up specifically to help us incomers to integrate and socialise with our new neighbours. All sorts of things are organised from barbecues to gardening clubs, to walking clubs to French lessons with a native French teacher at beginner, intermediate or advanced levels to suit. I have never experienced resentment to me as a new arrival to the area. We are self sufficient but, if we need it, we know that help and advice is at hand. If you like your privacy it is quite possible to preserve that in this quiet corner of France, but there is never a need to feel isolated.
What are property prices like in Mayenne?
I am not sure there is an average price for a property but I have a property on my books at just €26,000. It will sell quickly. Always negotiate on the price there might be a deal to be done. If you want a place in the country with a hectare or two you can start at €125,000 if you don’t mind a bit of work. On the other hand I have a fully furnished large country house in perfect condition for €190,000. [note: 2019 prices].
What sort of property is available?
All sorts of properties are available in Mayenne, from chateaux to terraced houses. But this is a rural, farming area. So, principally farmhouses, longères and farm workers’ cottages are the style of the area. Granite is the local stone and slate is the most common roofing material.
What are the most popular towns/villages?
Villages with a bakery or some shops are always popular. Many people want an ideal of being close to shops but away from neighbours. It’s easy to see why that is a difficult ask but any property on the outskirts of a village with some life is always going to be the most popular. Consider Jublains, St Germain de Coulamer, Champgeneteux
Your top tip for not so well known areas property seekers in Mayenne ought to consider…
Even the French are unfamiliar with Mayenne. We have some Parisian friends who bought a holiday home in St Pierre sur Orthe before we arrived in France. They are active members of the Comité des Fêtes and the town has a real community and friendly atmosphere. They organise an annual trip to Paris for villagers with a guided tour and lunch out, this year it was to Versailles. There are picnics, village meals and soup making competitions. There is a tiny cinema just on the outskirts where there are sometimes films and sometimes live theatre (if your French is up to it!). If you want to integrate, it’s essential to learn French to make new friends.
What’s the market outlook for Mayenne?
The right house at the right price will sell quickly. My record is two days. But the higher the price the more limited the buyers may be. It is becoming more sought after in my opinion. When I started a colleague told me properties don’t really sell in my area. It’s not true and recently I have had visitors from New Zealand, Australia, China, Singapore and of course much closer to home.
What are the seasons like?
In winter it can get cold, though not as cold as Yorkshire. We sometimes get -5 degrees and a little bit of snow. But winter doesn’t last long and is usually done by late March. A smattering of snow lasts only a day or two. Spring is short and variable and soon gives way to summer. Summer seems to last well into October even November. It can be hot and dry and the farmers often bemoan the lack of water. But we manage to grow all the ingredients for ratatouille in our own garden!
What do you personally love best about living in Mayenne?
I came to France to experience French living and we have landed in an unspoiled area where a traditional way of life still exists. Our friends are mainly French people and they are really kind and considerate. The countryside tradition is to welcome visitors to your house. It is almost impossible for me to drop in on a neighbour without stopping to drink a coffee. I can tell my wife “I’m just popping to see Claude, won’t be long”. I’m guaranteed to return home at least an hour and a half later having travelled 500 metres. There is also a tradition of the fête des voisins (celebration of neighbours) and when a neighbour we didn’t know arrived at our house to invite us to join her and others at her house for this celebration we readily accepted. Our circle of friends widened even further as a result. So for me the best thing about being here is: friends and neighbours and the feeling that we’re not too late to enjoy the true spirit of France.