lassay-les-châteaux, france 6.2010

Lassay-les-Châteaux is a large village in the northeast corner of the county of Mayenne. It is one of a number of “petites cités de caractère” and has fairly strict rules as to what can and cannot be built in the vicinity of its imposing château; one of three, hence the name of the town. First mention of Lassay arrived in documents dating from 1100; it was know as Laciaco, from lacus (lake) and the suffix -acum, a reference to the lakes along the river Lassay. However, there is a second theory that the name comes from a Gaul, named Lascius or Lacceius, again adopting the suffix -acum. The town was Lassay until 1972 when it became Lassay-les-Châteaux.

In the summer of 1836, Victor Hugo and his mistress, actress Juliette Drouet, set out from Paris on a trip to Mont St. Michel, spending some time sightseeing in Bas-Maine. They were accompanied by Celestin Nanteuil, who was to later illustrate most of Hugo's works.
They arrived in Lassay around 5 o'clock in the afternoon on June 20th. Victor seemed to have been enchanted by the place,
"J'ai vu Lassay, charmante petite ville demi-sauvage, plantee tout au beau milieu des chemins de traverse, qui a trois vieux chateaux, dont deux admirables que j'ai dessines... Le troisieme n'a plus que quelques ruines situees au milieu des arbes les plus farouches de monde."
They arived to the Barbican gate of the chateaux, demanded entrance for the night, and were peremptorily chased from the entrance by the concierge, most likely because policy disallowed entrance to anyone who looked a tad scruffy. The fact remained, they were told in no uncertain terms to get lost.
"A dame nanin, passez vot'chemin, les mait'ont defendu de recevoir les vagabonds."
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