A week in the Pays de la Loire with Gang of Mothers and her tribe

Combining cultural discoveries, nature escapades and gastronomic breaks, the Pays de la Loire region is ideal for families. Here's our advice on how to make the most of a short but intense stay.

The treasures of the Pays de la Loire are endless! From urban escapades, to immersions in the great outdoors, gourmet stops, visits to châteaux, fun and sporting activities for young and old, the choice is vast and almost dizzying! Here's a programme specially put together for families, to save time, stay present and make the most it.

Le Mans' wealth of heritage

Le Mans was awarded the Ville d'art et d'histoire (City of Art and History) label by the Ministry of Culture in 2002. It's hardly surprising when you take the time to wander the narrow, cobbled streets of the historic quarter, admiring its listed buildings, medieval facades and Saint-Julien cathedral. A breathtaking building, a jewel of the Gothic and Romanesque eras, with a vault of a thousand lights and colours.

After this plunge into history, the day ends with an aperitif on the water! Children will be delighted to play freshwater sailor on a sand boat. In the past, this boat used to collect sand from the Loire to build towns, but now the tug "La rêveuse de Saint-Nicolas" (External link) has been converted to offer tourists a river trip.

Finally, all summer long, Le Mans lights up with La Nuit des Chimères (External link) . As night falls, free projections sublimate the city's historic monuments, such as the Roman wall. It's a breathtaking spectacle that will leave a lasting impression on young and old alike!

Le Mans Tourist Office (External link)

The Alpes Mancelles for a breath of fresh air

Nature lovers will love stopping off in the verdant Alpes Mancelles. As well as its picturesque villages, this unspoilt setting offers a wealth of kid-friendly activities: supervised orienteering courses, hikes, treasure hunts, mountain bike circuits, canoeing down the Sarthe with Préférence-Plen Air (External link) , a visit to an educational farm where alpacas (miniature llamas that look like cuddly toys) are reared. Each activity is an invitation to enjoy a moment of relaxation and discovery with your family. The change of scenery is complete when, at nightfall, the children lie down in a top-of-the-range lodge tent, lulled by the sounds of nature.

The enchanted crossing in Mayenne

Make way for château life! Mayenne has no fewer than 279 manor houses, including five châteaux-forts! If you hire a bike, you can cycle from one to the other on the Vélo Francette: 85km of cycle paths criss-crossing the département. These include the Château de Sainte-Suzanne, nestling in the heart of a medieval town perched on a rock. But châteaux are also ideal places for a timeless break. At Château-Gontier, book a room and slip into the shoes of a castle owner! Finally, don't leave La Mayenne without visiting the Robert Tatin museum. Set in the heart of the Mayenne bocage at Cossé-le-Vivien, this palace of colossal sculptures combines art and nature.

Les Vallées de la Mayenne (External link)

A city break in Nantes

It's impossible to leave the region without stopping off in Nantes, a city so popular with families! And with good reason. Everything has been designed to make life easier for them, starting with le Voyage à Nantes, with its fun route through the city. How does it work? A 12km green line on the ground to guide visitors to the city's cultural landmarks, major monuments, works of art and unique features. Each summer, the route is enriched by temporary contemporary installations.

Children's (and adults'!) favourites remain Les Machines de l'île (External link) , where the elephant, a colossus of wood and iron, is the star attraction. Just next door is the striking Carrousel des Mondes marins, a metal aquarium filled with strange sea creatures.

Keeping with the family theme, we're off to recharge our batteries at Chez maman (External link) , just a stone's throw from the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, another must-see. In a vintage atmosphere, they cook traditional family dishes that are sure to please!

Le Voyage à Nantes (External link)

Getting to Pays de la Loire