Visit Sainte-Suzanne (Pays de la Loire, France)
Sainte-Suzanne is a village in the south-east of the Mayenne department of France, and south-east of Evron.
Classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France' and also as a 'city of character', Sainte-Suzanne is a small fortified town in a very picturesque location on a rocky outcrop above the river Erve.
The castle and medieval village are largely surrounded by the original defensive ramparts, still almost intact. The main parts of the castle are the keep, from the 11th century, and the more recent (living accommodation of the logis, dating from the 17th century, along with a medieval bakery).
Apart from the castle in Sainte-Suzanne, it is a pleasure to simply stroll around looking at the buildings, enjoying the views across the countryside of the Coevrons, soaking up the atmosphere, and of course stopping in a cafe or restaurant to better prolong the visit...
History of Sainte Suzanne
Sainte Suzanne has had a checkered history, begining, recent archeological evidence suggests, with an iron age settlement in the 6th century BC. Sitting 60m above the Erve river on a rocky outcrop this naturally defensive position has meant it has been settled throughout the ages.
A medieval fortress was built in the 10/11th centuries and the stone keep was built in the 11 th century. At the end of this century the Norman forces of William the Conqueror was sweeping through the area increasing his territories. The surrounding towns quickly fell under the onslaught but Sainte Suzanne managed to resist the Norman invadors for 3 years. Close to the road to Assé le Bérenger you can still see some of the remains of the camp set up by the Normans during this period. Finally after 3 years a negotiated peace was settled between the two sides.
In the 15th century during the Hundred Years war between the French and the English, Sainte Suzanne fell and was occupied by the English for 14 years. It was retaken by the French following the treachery of one of the English soldiers.
Another wave of fighting followed in the 16th century with the Wars of Religion. During these periods of war the town's defences continued to be improved and strengthened.
The Musée d' Auditoire contains a lot of information about Sainte Suzanne's past and you can also see the oldest body armour in France - it dates back to the early 15th century
Exploring Sainte Suzanne
The 11 th century keep and the remains of the remparts are in the heart of the village. Close up the size of the keep really is impressive.
The 17th century logis is home to an exhibition of architecture and heritage and includes models and audio-visual displays.
The Musée d' Auditoire is well worth a visit if you are interested in history and it focuses particularly on the Siege of Sainte Suzanne by the forces of William the Conqueror from 1083-1086.
When walking round the town don't miss the 'Porte de Trois Clefs', door of three keys. This triple lock is on the 18th century Salt Store and because of the value of salt in those days three magistrates each had a different key and to open the door each must open their lock!
Follow the Promenade de la Poterne which follows the double defensive walls and offers some great views of the surrounding countryside.
Wandering round the village there are lots of beautiful houses to see.
A good time to see Sainte Suzanne is during the fete medieval which occurs in August every other year (odd years). During this medieval festival many of the locals dress up in medieval costume and many medieval activities are demonstrated.
Places to Visit near to Sainte Suzanne
On the edge of town be sure to visit the remains of the Norman camp made during the three year siege. This is called the 'Campe des Anglais'.
Also nearby is the Dolmen des Erves which dates from the 4th or 5th century BC showing very early signs of human occupation in this area.
La Ferté Clairbois is a medieval centre with copies of a donjon, draw bridge, medieval garden and lots of activities showing the activities of a knight in medieval times - including jousting demonstations.
From just across the valley, the views back across to Sainte-Suzanne are also highly recommended, while a stroll along the river banks to see the watermills is also very pleasant.
Photos taken within 10 km
Tourist classifications for Sainte-Suzanne
Sainte-Suzanne has received the following tourist classifications: one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages); listed town of Art and History
Address: Sainte-Suzanne, Laval, Mayenne, Pays de la Loire, 53270 || GPS: latitude 48.0983, longitude -0.3516
Map of Sainte-Suzanne & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Sainte-Suzanne, France
- Evron - town of art and history (7km)
- Saulges - town of art and history (13km)
- La Cropte - ville fleurie 4* (19km)
- Jublains - town of art and history (21km)
- Jardins de la Massonnière - remarkable garden (21km)
- Jardins du Mirail - remarkable garden (26km)
- Mayenne - town of art and history (31km)
- Laval - town of art and history (31km)
- Jardin du château de Vilaines - remarkable garden (34km)
- Saint-Loup-du-Gast - ville fleurie 4* (36km)
The French version of this page is at Sainte-Suzanne (Francais)