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Le Mans

Needless to say, Sarthe's capital Le Mans is famous for its annual motor race. Less people know of its historic town centre, (which has been carefully restored in recent years) and its superb views across the Sarthe River. The town is located on a rocky outcrop with an impressive cathedral looking down on it from the other side of the river.

A regional stronghold

William the Conqueror, seeking to expand his duchy, took charge of the town and transformed it into a major base for the Angevin kings as they attempted to take the English throne. The town prospered immensely after the 100 years war, as is evident by the large number of affluent houses from this period. The town's Gallo-Roman walls, complete with inhabitable houses, are the best preserved in Europe.

Start your engines

It was the local Bellee family who can be thanked for bringing motor vehicles to the town when they started up the first factories. There is a car museum in the south of the city next to the motor racing track. Le Mans was established as an important racing venue from 1906 onwards. In 1923, the idea was formed to have an annual endurance race lasting 24 hours.

The cathedral

The cathedral is an impressive mix of different architectural styles ranging from the 11th to the 15th Centuries. The outside looks quite chaotic, with its many buttresses scaling the different buildings. On the inside you can trace the expansion of the church over the years. There is a small Romanesque nave with Gothic arches to one side. Inside is one of the oldest examples of stained glass windows in France. The other half of the Cathedral suddenly changes into Gothic architecture, although there is a 13th Century choir and 15th Century transepts.

Artistically renowned

The Musee de Tesse is Le Mans' fine arts museum. Inside you will be able to see the Plantagenet Enamel, the biggest medieval artefact crafted from enamel in Europe. The piece shows the influence that Byzantine art has had upon the region. The enamel used in this and a number of other items in the museum came from Limoges.

How to get there

Getting from Paris to Le Mans couldn't be easier. There is a TGV, as well as a Eurolines coach service, operating directly between the two cities.

Le Mans property prices

The Le Mans property market has slowed down in recent years with less of an increase in prices. There is a good rental market in the valleys around the town where most visitors choose to stay. In Le Mans itself, renting can only be guaranteed for the annual race.

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Le Mans AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Le Mans?

In the centre of the Sarthe department, in the Pays de la Loire.

Le Mans Property Map

IN THE REGION OF PAYS DE LA LOIRE

Pays de la Loire Guide

Pays de la Loire Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF SARTHE

Sarthe Guide

  Sarthe Map


Population: 146,000


Access: The easiest way of getting there is to take the TGV from Paris.


Economy: The town has relied on the motor industry since its birth.


Interesting fact: An annual motor race takes place every year lasting 24 hours.

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