Laval (Mayenne)

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Laval Coat of Arms
Laval (France)
region Pays de la Loire
Department Mayenne ( prefecture )
Arrondissement Laval ( chief lieu )
Canton Laval-1 (main town)
Laval-2 (main town)
Laval-3 (main town)
Community association Laval
Coordinates 48 ° 4 ′  N , 0 ° 46 ′  W Coordinates: 48 ° 4 ′  N , 0 ° 46 ′  W
height 42-122 m
surface 34.22 km 2
Residents 49,728 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 1,453 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 53000
INSEE code

View of castle and city on the river

Laval is a French city with 49,728 inhabitants (at January 1, 2017) in Mayenne in the region Pays de la Loire . Laval is the seat of the prefecture of the department.


Laval is located in the north-west of France about halfway from Le Mans to Rennes . The name of the city is derived from its geographical location in the valley of the Mayenne river : La vallée de la Mayenne . The formerly fortified old town on the right bank of the river lies on the slope of a hill; it is characterized by numerous buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The seven neighboring municipalities are (clockwise from the north): Changé , Bonchamp-lès-Laval , Forcé , Entrammes , L'Huisserie , Montigné-le-Brillant and Saint-Berthevin .

City history

In the 11th century, the original castle was replaced by a stone structure, under which settlers gradually settled. At the end of the 13th century, it was already an imposing fortress, which was used to monitor the passage on the Mayenne and to block enemies the way into Brittany. The 36 m high, Romanesque defense tower was built and the city was fortified from the old bridge - the Pont Vieux dates from the 13th century - around the settlement to the Porte Beucheresse . Numerous remains of the city wall have now been restored and the adjacent area created as a park.

Allegedly built by Charles the Bald , Laval was an important market town in the Middle Ages and became the capital of its own county and peerage in 1429, and of the Mayenne department in 1790. Little by little, the left bank of the river was also settled. Guy IX's wife, Béatrix de Gâvre, Princess of Flanders, was very successful in promoting the textile industry. The Seigneurs de Laval , including the Montmorencys and Montforts , played an important role in French history, they married rich and accompanied the kings of France on the crusades. In the hundred years war they fought against the British and Guy XIV. Was a faithful follower of Joan of Arc .

In the 15th century, the settlement outside the city walls expanded. The city's wealth is based on the cultivation of linen and hemp as well as the manufacture and trade of woven articles. Dye works and laundries (bateaux lavoirs) were built. Very beautiful properties were also built, some of which are still preserved today. In 1521 Laval came to François II de La Trémoille by marriage .

During the French Revolution , Laval, like most cities, followed the new ideas, but joined the counter-revolution in 1794 and was captured by the Vendée army . Already on October 25 and 27, 1792, the Vendéers had triumphed at Laval over the Republicans under Westermann .

In 1812 the course of the Mayenne river was straightened, the quays were built, and the city center had to be relocated for the construction of a country road from Paris to Brittany. The image of the city changed. The high bridge for the Paris-Brest railway line was built from 1855 to 1856. The last battle of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 took place at the gates of the city in Saint-Melaine.

The Laval economy is still based on the textile industry today. The dairy industry, metal and leather industry as well as equipment manufacturing have been added.

Population development
year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2008
Residents 39.283 45,674 51,544 50,360 50,473 50,947 50,931


Sainte Trinité Cathedral
Church buildings

In 1855 Rome established the diocese Laval here and gave it the Latin name Valleguidonensis , the valley of the Guy, in memory of the ancestors of the Laval Castle, the Seigneurs de Laval , Guy I to XX. The parish church of Laval, which dates back to the 11th century and the second half of the 12th century, was elevated to the status of cathedral. The structural changes to the house of God extend into the 19th century and are visible today in the different architectural styles and materials.

In addition to the cathedral with a Flemish winged altar, the churches of Notre-Dame-d'Avénières from the 12th century and Notre-Dame-des-Cordeliers from the 14th to 17th centuries are among the sights.

Laval Castle

The townscape is dominated by Laval Castle from the 12th century and its round keep. It was once the residence of the Dukes of Laval, then a prison in the 19th century, and has housed a museum of naive painting since 1966.

Teaching and Research

Twin cities

Laval maintains relationships with the following nine cities and districts through town twinning and other forms of cooperation:

city country since Type
Boston United KingdomUnited Kingdom England, UK 1958 Town twinning
Chalkidiki district GreeceGreece Central Macedonia, Greece 2009 Cultural exchange
Gandia Escut de Gandia.svg SpainSpain Valencia, Spain 1978 Town twinning
Garango Burkina FasoBurkina Faso Burkina Faso 1974 Town twinning
Laval Blason ville ca Laval (Québec) .svg CanadaCanada Quebec, Canada 1984 Town twinning
Lovech Lovech-coat-of-arms.svg BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria 2010 collaboration
Mettmann DEU Mettmann COA.svg GermanyGermany North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany 1974 Town twinning
Modesto United StatesUnited States California, United States 2011 Town twinning
Suceava ROU SV Suceava CoA.png RomaniaRomania Bucovina, Romania 2010 collaboration


Ambroise Paré 1565


  • Le Patrimoine des Communes de la Mayenne . Volume 2. Flohic Editions, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-84234-135-X , pp. 567-637.

Web links

Commons : Laval (Mayenne)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. La ville. Ville de Laval, accessed October 29, 2017 .