Last Updated on 04/05/2022 by Alfred
On holiday in the Sarthe? Visiting Le Mans will therefore be a must. The 9 best things to do in the city of Mancelle!
So, is Le Mans worth visiting? Yes, Le Mans is worth seeing. We advise you to visit Le Mans, a city full of history, two hours from Paris.
In addition to the famous 24 hours of Le Mans, the city will enchant you with the richness of its architecture, its gardens, and its medieval heart. It is the perfect destination to recharge your batteries for a weekend.
So if you want to take advantage of your holidays to discover the Sarthe, read on. We deliver you the essentials to do at Le Mans.
Is Le Mans Worth Visiting? The 9 Most Fun Things To Do in Le Mans
Come and visit Le Mans and its Saint-Julien cathedral, one of the largest Gothic-Romanesque buildings in France. Its unique architectural style in the great west is a testament to medieval religious art.
Its foundation dates back to 1060, by Bishop Vulgrin. Over the years, many works have followed one another. years. It was only in 1430 that the final construction of the monument was completed.
Today, the cathedral is regularly renovated to counter the harmful effects of air pollution and natural aging.
The Saint-Julien cathedral in Le Mans is one of the most visited monuments in the Sarthe. There’s a reason why the monument is as impressive on the outside as it is inside.
You will see 47 angels on the vault, all in color and harmony. In the transept, you will discover one of the most beautiful buffets in France dating from the Renaissance.
Great bishops and figures rest in peace within it, such as Geoffroy Plantagenet, the princes of Bourbon, and Guillaume Du Bellay.
There can only be one must-see at Le Mans, which is the Sarthe circuit. Famous worldwide, it originated in 1906 on the occasion of the French Grand Prix, which started at Le Mans.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which founded this motor race, reuses the circuit during the ACO Grand Prix and the Coupe de la Sarthe.
It was then that the idea was launched to set up an endurance event between vehicles. The first edition took place in May 1923. Two drivers take turns day and night to achieve the best performance.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit is impressive in its length, with 13,626 kilometers of track. As such, it is one of the longest circuits in the world. Used about ten days a year for competitions, three-quarters of the circuit is open to road traffic the rest of the year.
In addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the circuit is also used for Le Mans Classic (a vintage car race) and the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
To help you understand the myth of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest opened a museum dedicated to this international event in 1961.
The museum presents no less than 140 vehicles of world-famous brands. Discover legendary models from Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, Matra, etc.
In total, 6,500 square meters of exhibition immerse you in the world of competition. The museum also presents the history of automobiles, the circuit, the race, the backstage, and its heroes.
Apart from sporting events, you can freely visit the circuit. You will discover the infrastructures that make it special, such as the Dunlop footbridge or the 9 bridges that make the hearts of spectators beat.
Initially, the museum was located within the circuit itself, right next to the village. As the expansions and developments progressed, it moved to the main entrance.
Plantagenet city corresponds to the medieval historic center of the city, previously known as Vindunum. It is located near the heart of the republic and the Jacobins.
It transports you to the Middle Ages with cobbled streets and period houses. Great monuments of the medieval period are present such as the Gallo-Roman wall and the Saint-Julien cathedral in Le Mans. Additionally, the Plantagenet city is frequently used in cape and sword films.
Throughout its history, Vindunum suffered conquests or attempted conquests. This was particularly the case with William the Conqueror, Clovis, or Richard the Lionheart.
Since 1979, the city has enjoyed the status of a free commune. It is the second after Montmartre.
But the Plantagenet city hides other secrets; mansions await you at the top of the wall. In the basement, secret paths are hidden to connect the cathedral to other strategic points of the city.
What to do at Le Mans for a little strong feeling? Why not a bungee jump on the Viaduct of Saint-Georges le Gaultier? Adrenaline junk is guaranteed.
At 45 meters high, the viaduct awaits you for the big jump. Here you are in the middle of nature. Therefore, it is an opportunity to admire the landscape that surrounds you before diving into the void.
It is very easy to access the viaduct on foot. A steep path with several steps provides easy access to the bridge and jumping area.
Once up there, a team of experts guides you step by step so that your bungee jump is one of your best memories.
They brief you on the safety instructions and equip you with all the necessary equipment. As soon as you’re ready, all you have to do is jump.
On 500 hectares of nature, three houses offer you their universe.
A must-do in Le Mans; the Maison de l’Eau is open from February to November. It introduces you to the world surrounding the river.
Discover a variety of species of fish within the aquariums, such as trout, barbels, minnows, studs, etc. You can learn about the operation of the old water factories and their evolution over the years.
For the record, the latter was used to distribute 20,000 cubic meters of water every day to the inhabitants of Le Mans. And to make the visit even more enjoyable, rent bikes or canoes and walk along the river.
Stroll through the ark of nature aboard the horse-drawn carriages. Large carts towed by Percheron horses take you to discover the grove and the forest. After your walk, go to the Estaminet to taste the local products.
In the heart of the prairie house, the garden of the Ark of Nature extends over 2,100 square meters. Lovers of botany, you will discover the name of each plant on small slates.
The garden offers a wide variety of vegetables and teaches you all the organic techniques for your gardening.
And if you are a city dweller, tips are also presented to you through hanging gardens or square gardens.
Last house of the Ark to visit in Le Mans, the House of the forest. Here, the forest world is approached in various ways. You will discover the wood industry and its trades through models and games.
You can admire the huge resin trees with a height of five meters. Additionally, the path of the forest house was also awarded “Remarkable Tree of France” status for the 32 plants that make up the site.
The fauna is also present with about fifty stuffed animals. They are all represented in their natural environment. For example, a forest pond has also been reconstituted.
And if you want to observe living species, go to the anthill and near the vivariums of snakes and insects.
If only to see this architectural treasure, visit Le Mans. Treasure of the third century, the Gallo-Roman enclosure demonstrates the power and wealth of the region.
First designed to resist the barbarians, the wall suffered many centuries of Breton, Norman, and Viking invasions. The building has been regularly restored to restore it to its full splendor.
The enclosure encircled the city for 1,300 meters with 26 fortified towers. Currently, there are eleven towers and three penthouses on the ground.
Its immediately noticeable ochre color comes from roussard stone, which alternates chalky limestone, red bricks, and a pale pink mortar.
The architectural qualities of the designers are still visible through the neat geometric designs that adorn the wall.
7. Museum of Tesse
The idea of the Tessé Museum appeared at the end of the reign of Louis XVI. At that time, many private or religious collections were confiscated.
They were then transferred to the Musée des Beaux-Aarts in Le Mans, which opened its doors on 21 June 1799. The works come mainly from the great west (Angers, Anjou, Maine, and Brittany).
From 1846, the museum had an archaeological branch. The collection has been moved to the Maine Museum of Archaeology and History.
The Tessé Museum currently includes two collections:
- Egyptian antiquities: where you can admire more than 125 pieces dating from the fourth millennium BCE;
- Paintings: many works dating from the XIV to the XXth are highlighted. You will discover the greatest artistic currents of Western art.
What to do at Le Mans with your family? While you’re on vacation in the Sarthe, you must take your children to Papéa Parc.
The park offers 40 attractions divided into different universes to satisfy the young and old. The youngest visitors will enjoy the funny tracks, the caterpillar, the 24-hour circuit, or the bumper boats on board.
Water slides, roller coasters, and other breathtaking attractions have been planned for the more adventurous. Finally, for families, enjoy a moment of relaxation on the pedal boats, do a speed race on the spider or visit the aviary to discover the beautiful blue peacock.
Come and visit Le Mans and try the culinary specialties of the region. In addition to the famous rillettes, Le Mans is delicious dishes.
On the salty side, treat yourself with a Sarthian pot: chicken, rabbit, mushrooms, cabbages, and carrots accompanied by a dry white wine from the region. These are all the necessary ingredients for this typically local dish.
On the sweet side, you would be wrong not to taste the buggatises, the rilletés, the queen’s hearts, or the Sarthois sausages (yes, it’s sweet).
Le Mans is easily accessible by car or train. It is therefore strongly advised to use these two means of transport.
You are only 2 h 30 min from Paris by car, and thanks to the A11. For the West, the A11 andA28 also lead into the Sarthian prefecture. Finally, if you arrive from the South, you will also have to take the A28 at the journey’s end.
As for the train, the city is served by several TGV, Ouigo, and TER lines. You can reach Le Mans at high speed from Paris-Montparnasse, St-Malo, or Marseille St-Charles.
Where to stay in Le Mans?
Do you prefer a luxury hotel, a relaxed atmosphere in a youth hostel, or intimacy with an Airbnb apartment? Whatever your preferences, you will find what suits you during your stay at Le Mans.
Plantagenet City is an excellent place to discover the city from a neighborhood perspective. However, the city’s eastern districts are a great option for a lower budget, thanks to public transport. Use a hotel comparator to refine your searches based on your criteria.
From now on, all that is needed is to visit Le Mans. Safe travels!