On the road
Ille et Vilaine (35)
Subprefectures: Fougeres, Redon, Saint-Malo
With a sea opening between St Malo and the Mont St Michel, Ille et Vilaine is the Eastern part of Brittany. Rennes, in the heart of the department, is a bustling city: car industry (Citroen), electronics, oil refinery are the main industries. The department is also the first French department for dairy while apples, cider and oysters in Cancale are among the local specialities. Tourism is thriving as well in resorts such as Dinard, St Malo, St Lunaire or Cancale.
Sub-préfectures: Chateau-Gontier, Mayenne
The department holds the name of the river that flows through it. It corresponds to the lower part of the province of Maine. The history of Mayenne is marked by the Gallo-Roman period with the city of Noviodunum and by the conflicts between the Duchy of Brittany and France in the Middle-Ages. Later the Vendee wars also affected the region. Canals brought some prosperity to the department and linen as well as metallurgy were the main resources of Mayenne until the 19th century.
In the 20th century, while many inhabitants left for large cities, the department focused on food industry and especially dairy. With 310,000 inhabitants, Mayenne holds the lowest population in the Pays de Loire region. It only has three towns of more than 10,000, prefecture Laval, and the two sub-prefectures, Chateau-Gontier and Mayenne.
From the Alpes Mancelles to the Loir valley or the Solesmes abbey, Sarthe has thousands of intact landscapes, dozens of castles and preserved villages and an exceptional quality of life.
Sarthe covers for the most part the eastern part of the old province known as Haut Maine. It has always been at crossroads. As a result, the department is twofold. It has its urban side with the Le Mans agglomeration including 90 communes regrouping some 300,000 persons. It is more than half the total population of the department. The rest of the territory is mostly rural and scarcely populated.
In the heart of the West, Maine-et-Loir, formed with the greatest part of the old Anjou province, is ideally placed between the Parisian basin and the Atlantic.
The department is the second industrial pole in the West of France.
Maine-et-Loire is 7,166 km2 in surface, a population of 785,000, 363 communes, 41 cantons and six rural districts each with its own strong personality. Angers is a centre of industrial and services activities with a real potential for tourism. Cholet has been an industrial and technological centre for half a century and accounts for 40 pc of the industry in the department (fashion, shoes, plastics). Saumur is a world famous tourist attraction, also renowned for its food industry and its wines.
Sub-prefectures: Chinon, Loches
Indre et Loire is more or less the old province of Touraine, rich of an heritage symbolised by the some 80 castles which made the region famous. In the Centre region, it has 610,000 inhabitants, half of them in the agglomeration of Tours, a town of 130,000. Services took over from industry and agriculture, even though the Loire vineyards are among the prestigious in France.
Km 7 : Dompierre-Du-Chemin
Between Fougeres and Vitre, Dompierre du Chemin probably draws its name from a monk or rector of the village (Dom Pierre) while chemin probably comes form its location at the crossing or roads between Chartres and Rennes and Vannes and Bordeaux. The commune is known for a legendary site, Saut Roland, while several footpaths take nature lovers around the beautiful scenery by foot or by horse.
Another curiosity is the church with its 12th century nave, 17th century altars and beautiful timber-frame. Several manors are spread on the commune as well as the castle of Lodean (19th century) with its park overlooking Dompierre.
Saut Roland (Roland Jump), 2 km east of Dompierre, is a spectacular natural site with its steep cliffs of quartz overlooking the St Blaise brook.
The legend has it that the place owes its name to Roland, Charlemagne's nephew, who was effectively prefect of the Marches of Brittany. He is said to have died after attempt to jump from one cliff to the other on his horse for the love of his lady. He twice succeeded when invoking the Lord and the Virgin Mary but failed on his third attempt. Saut Roland is a renowned climbing spot.
The Bretagne region coincides with the ancient province and Duchy of Brittany, minus Loire Atlantique and notably Nantes, home of the castle of the Dukes and especially Duchess Anne. It is the French region with the longest coastline. It is traditionally divided between the seaside regions (Armor) and the hinterland (Argoat). While altitudes are low the landscape is rugged and hilly in the inside, smoother near the shore. The region is remarkable for its history and its strong culture, inspired by its language, Breton, its Celtic customs and music as well as an exceptional human and natural heritage: Cap Frehel, Pointe du Raz, castles, churches and calvaries.
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