La Basse Cour: B&B near Alencon, Normandy

Le Mans - City of the Plantagenet Kings

Le Mans - Old Town of the Plantagenets

Le Mans - Places to Visit, Where to Stay

1. The Plantagenet City and the Gallo-Roman Walls of Le Mans 2. Saint Julian Cathedral 3. The Le Mans 24 Hours 4. The "Garden of Plants" 5. The Queen Bérengère Museum 6. The Museum de Tessé 7. The Arche de la Nature 8. Son et Lumiere - The Night of Chimera 9. The Royal Abbey of Epau 10. Le Mans Town Plan and Hotels

1. Cité Plantagenêt

The old town, high and proud on a promontory overlooking the Sarthe, is the historic center of Le Mans.

Protected by an imposing fortified wall, the cobbled streets of the old medieval centre of Le Mans comprise a hundred blue, green and red half-timbered houses. The district also has many private mansions and merchants houses carved from stone with decorated porticos and gateways. Steep stone staircases and alleyways pierce the city walls leading down to the river Sarthe.

For an audio-guided visit to old Le Mans, go to the Maison du Pilier-rouge; built between the 15th and 16th century, is one of the symbols of the city and nowadays houses the Tourist Office.

  • Le Mans Plan
  • le mans 5
  • le mans 6
  • le mans 7
  • le mans 8
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9
  • le mans 9

1. (contd) The Gallo-Roman City Walls of Le Mans

The Gallo-Roman walls have surrounded the medieval center of Le Mans for 17 centuries. They have come through invasion by the Barbarians then the Vikings, and despite their great age and partial destruction, they are still among the best preserved Roman city walls extant, along with those of Rome and Byzantium. Some parts are decorated with friezes over 8 meters high. The city walls and other monuments of the old town of Le Mans are illuminated with a spectacular son-et-lumiere display at nightfall in summer (see below).

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

2. Cathedral Saint-Julien (Saint Julian) of Le Mans

At 134 meters long and covering 5000 m2, larger than the Notre Dame in Paris, the main part of the Romano-Gothic cathedral which dominates the historic Plantagenêt centre of Le Mans was built around 1060, but it developed and evolved over the next 400 years. Its nave is Romanesque but its transepts are Gothic. The interior is renowned for its wonderful medieval stained glass windows, the Rose window in particular, while the exterior is home to one of the city's great curiosities, a 4-meter standing menhir (a solid block of stone). According to legend, to touch the place hollow of this monolith will endow the individual with unparalleled fertility.

  • Le Mans Cathedral
  • le mans Cathedral 2
  • le mans Cathedral 3
  • le mans Cathedral 7
  • le mans Cathedral 4
  • le mans Cathedral 5
  • le mans Cathedral 6
  • le mans Cathedral 1

3. The Le Mans 24 Hours Visitor Centre

The 24 Hours is one of the first things you think of when anyone mentions Le Mans. This legendary car race has welcomed drivers and fans of since 1923, and it attracts around 260,000 spectators each year in June. You can visit behind the scenes by entering the circuit while the visitor centre and museum traces the history of the competition with more than one hundred legendary Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Ford, Porsche, Audi, Toyota models on display. Racing driving courses are also possible on the circuit.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

4. Le Jardin des Plantes

This garden in the centre of Le Mans is definitely worth a visit. It was created around 1867 by Jean-Charles-Adolphe Alphand, the landscaper responsible for the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the Parc Monceau and Buttes-Chaumont. It consists of five hectares containing 1,200 roses, lime trees, flowers by the thousand, criss-crossed by pathways. In summer, concerts are organized every Sunday afternoon in the bandstand.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

  • le mans 2
  • le mans 3
  • le mans 4
  • le mans 9

5. Museum of La Reine Bérengère

The charming museum of ethnography and local history displays a collection of ceramics, furniture and iconographic documents. It also houses a collection of works of art linked to the history of the city and the department.

The Musée de la Reine-Bérengère, 7 Rue de la Reine Bérengère 72000 Le Mans. 02 43 47 38 80.

Opening hours: Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Open on Tuesday, Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from June to September.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

6. Museum de Tessé

The Tessé museum is one of the oldest in France, dating from just after the Revolution in 1799. The majority of the works presented were taken at that time from the wealthy clergy, in the churches or their private collections. Today, it retains an important collection of paintings from the 14th to the 20th century as well as a space dedicated to Egypt. You can find a life-size reconstruction of the tombs of Queen Nofretari and Sennefer there.

Tessé Museum, 2 Avenue de Paderborn 72100 Le Mans 02 43 47 38 51.

Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

7. L'Arche de la Nature

L'Arche de la Nature is a park located just a few minutes from the city center. The park allows you to discover the type of natural spaces representative of the Sarthe landscape. Its space is organized around three centres: the Maison de l'Eau to discover the world of rivers, the Maison de la Prairie to learn more about the bocage and the Maison de la Forêt to admire remarkable trees.

L'Arche de la Nature, 43 Rue de l'Estérel 72100 Le Mans 02 43 50 38 45.

Opening hours: Open from April to October from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from November to March from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

8. La Nuit des Chimères

The most beautiful buildings and monuments of the Plantagenet Old Town of Le Mans are illuminated with colour at dusk in July and August, also at Christmas. The pathways, staircases and facades are transformed into son-et-lumiere projection screens, each tableau lasting several minutes before you move on to the next. Why not start the evening with a meal in one of the many restaurants around the old town while waiting for the show to start.

Our B&B is 30 minutes north of Le Mans : tap here for city centre accommodation

9. L'Abbaye Royale de l'Epau

Constructed in 1229, the Royal Abbey of Epau is the work of Queen Bérengère de Navarre, the wife of Richard the Lionheart, a man with many crowns: King of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Poitiers, Maine and Anjou. The abbey was abandoned by the monks during the Revolution and was later sold to an industrialist. It was then transformed into a farm before finally being bought by the department to make it a cultural centre, for exhibitions and events. Many of the buildings can still be visited both during and outside of events, incluing the cloisters housing the tombstone effigy of Queen Bérengère.

10. Le Mans : Town Centre Hotels and Accommodation

Back to Top