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Prefecture Laval.JPG
Prefecture building of the Mayenne department, in Laval
Drapeau fr departement Mayenne.svg
Blason departement fr Mayenne.svg
Coat of arms
Location of Mayenne in France
Coordinates: 48°10′N0°40′W / 48.167°N 0.667°W / 48.167; -0.667 Coordinates: 48°10′N0°40′W / 48.167°N 0.667°W / 48.167; -0.667
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Prefecture Laval
Subprefectures Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne
   President of the General Council Olivier Richefou
  Total5,175 km2 (1,998 sq mi)
  Rank 74th
  Density59/km2 (150/sq mi)
Demonyms Mayennais, Mayennaise
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 53
Arrondissements 3
Cantons 17
Communes 242
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Mayenne (French:  [majɛn] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a department in northwest France named after the Mayenne River. Mayenne is part of the current region of Pays de la Loire and is surrounded by the departments of Manche, Orne, Sarthe, Maine-et-Loire, and Ille-et-Vilaine.


Mayenne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. The northern two thirds correspond to the western part of the former province of Maine. The southern third of Mayenne corresponds to the northern portion of the old province of Anjou. The inhabitants of the department are called Mayennais.


Like 82 other departments, Mayenne was created on 4 March 1790 during the early stages of the French Revolution by order of the National Constituent Assembly. The new departments were to be uniformly administered and approximately equal to one another in size and population. The former province of Maine was partitioned into two, Upper Maine, centred on Le Mans, became the new department of Sarthe, and Lower Maine, centred on Laval became the new department of Mayenne. Anjou, to the south, being too big to form a single department, was reduced in size and became Maine-et-Loire. In this partition, Sarthe received the region of La Flèche, and Mayenne received Château-Gontier and Craon. Flax was a feature of the Mayenne economy, and the southern limit for the cultivation of flax was used to determine the new border between Mayenne and Maine-et-Loire. The American first army's 90th Infantry Division were tasked with capturing the town in 1944. [1]


Mayenne is a department in northwestern France and is part of the region of Pays de la Loire. The department does not have a sea coast, but about thirty kilometres to the northwest is Mont Saint-Michel Bay. The capital and largest town is Laval in the centre of the department. To the north lies the department of Orne, to the east lies Sarthe, to the south lies Maine-et-Loire, to the west lies Ille-et-Vilaine and to the northwest lies Manche. The department forms a roughly rectangular shape, being 90 km (56 mi) long by 77 km (48 mi) wide, with a total area of about 5,175 km2 (1,998 sq mi). The River Mayenne flows centrally through it from north to south, passing through the towns of Mayenne, Laval and Château-Gontier. After leaving the department, the river joins the River Sarthe to form the River Maine which later joins the River Loire. [2]

The department is varied in topography. Much of it is largely flat, but there are also hilly areas, some with steep-sided valleys and ravines. Of the total area of 516,189 hectares (1,275,532 acres), some 354,000 hectares (875,000 acres) are arable, 69,000 hectares (170,000 acres) are grassland, 26,000 hectares (65,000 acres) are forests and woodland and 50,000 acres (20,200 ha) are heathland and moorland. [3] To the north lies the Armorican Massif, a plateau that has been eroded over time, the highest summit of which, the Mont des Avaloirs, is the highest point in the department at 417 m (1,368 ft) above sea level. A branch range to the south of this plateau forms the ridge that divides the Mayenne Valley from the Vilaine Valley. [3]

The department is subdivided into three arrondissements: Mayenne, Laval, and Château-Gontier; and is coincident with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laval.


Population development since 1801:

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
source: [4]


Current National Assembly Representatives

ConstituencyMember [5] Party
Mayenne's 1st constituency Guillaume Garot Socialist Party
Mayenne's 2nd constituency Géraldine Bannier MoDem
Mayenne's 3rd constituency Yannick Favennec Becot Union of Democrats and Independents

Flora and fauna

Mayenne has a diversity of habitat types such as forest, heathland, bog and farmland. Some 1445 species of plants, 63 species of mammals, 280 species of birds, 16 species of amphibians and 11 species of reptiles have been recorded, as well as thousands of species of invertebrates. The peat-lands and bogs are often fringed with woodlands of alder and ash, and in some places carnivorous plants such as sundew and butterwort flourish, fritillaries, marsh cinquefoil and cottongrass grow and butterflies, dragonflies and spiders abound. [6]

The woodlands are mostly small with the deciduous trees dominated by oak. Here roe deer, badger, fire salamander, Aesculapian snake, middle spotted woodpecker, little owl and white admiral can be found and uncommon plants present including European columbine and wild russet apple. [6]

The dry grasslands, which cover the limestone and sandstone soils, are also rich in fauna and flora. They house the snake Vipera aspis , the large blue butterfly, the blue-winged grasshopper and the bee orchid. The heathland in the north of Mayenne is populated by dwarf gorse and cross-leaved heath and there are plenty of spiders, nightjars and warblers. The old quarries are the refuge of bats, amphibians, the shining cranesbill and greater butterfly orchid. Rivers and ponds are home to eel, northern crested newt, European otter, kingfisher, grass snake, common moorhen and plants such as spearwort, yellow flag, arrowhead and Isopyrum thalictroides , a small poisonous plant. [6]


The department is largely rural with about 80% being used for agriculture, 8% being urban area and the remainder forest, heath and plantations. [7] Livestock farming predominates, with the breeding of cattle, horses and pigs, and also bee-keeping being important. [8] The soil is generally poor, but it is of better quality around Laval and Château-Gontier. In these parts corn is cultivated and there are plantings of hemp, flax, fruits and vines. There are many apple orchards and large quantities of cider are made. [3] The department is rich in mineral resources; iron and coal are mined and there are quarries for marble, slate, building stone, limestone and flint; the white sand deposits are used in the manufacture of glass. [3]

Industries include the manufacture of linen, paper and hemp, and cider-making is traditionally carried on in the department. [8] Office furniture is manufactured in Château-Gontier, [9] and Laval is active in the industrial sector, with dairy products, electronics and chemicals in a modern science park.


See also

Related Research Articles

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Montreuil may refer to:

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Laval is a town in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) west-southwest of Paris, and the capital of the Mayenne department. Laval was before the French Revolution part of the province of Maine, now split between two departments, Mayenne and Sarthe. Its inhabitants are called Lavallois. The commune of Laval proper, without the metropolitan area, is the 7th most populous in the Pays de la Loire region and the 132nd in France.

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Saint-Christophe may refer to:

La Bazoge may refer to several communes in France:


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Arrondissement of Château-Gontier Arrondissement in Pays de la Loire, France

The arrondissement of Château-Gontier is an arrondissement of France in the Mayenne department in the Pays de la Loire region. It has 76 communes. Its population is 73,769 (2016), and its area is 1,527.4 km2 (589.7 sq mi).

The following is a list of the 17 cantons of the Mayenne department, in France, following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:

Roman Catholic Diocese of Laval

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Fortifications of Vitré

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  1. Schama, Simon (1989). Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York: Knopf.
  2. Philips' Modern School Atlas. George Philip and Son, Ltd. 1973. pp. 42–43. ISBN   0-540-05278-7.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Comprehensive Dictionary of the World. Mittal Publications. 1992. pp. 806–807. GGKEY:RC6C27C4NE1.
  4. Site sur la Population et les Limites Administratives de la France
  6. 1 2 3 "Exposition: "La Biodiversité en Mayenne"" (in French). Mayenne Nature Environnement. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  7. "Le contexte Meyennais" (PDF) (in French). Préfecture de la Mayenne. 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  8. 1 2 Bozman, E.F. (1966). Everyman's Encyclopaedia: Volume 8. J.M. Dent and Sons. p. 301.
  9. Weiler, Nolwenn (25 January 2015). "En Mayenne, des salariés sauvent leur entreprise de la faillite" (in French). Basta!. Retrieved 24 September 2015.