So I’m pretty new to this whole blogging thing, but I was thinking about the first bit of content I should write about and decided that I wanted to write about a town that’s near and dear to my heart: Le Mans.
I lived in Le Mans for a little over 10 months while I worked as an English TA at a local high school, and while it may not be a major city like Paris, it definitely has its draws! The students I worked with complained that Le Mans was small and boring, but for me it was a fantastic place to live and it’s a great place for someone to visit! So let’s jump into my list of just some reasons why you should visit Le Mans!
1) Le Vieux Mans
Le Vieux Mans is what we might call in English, “the old town”. It’s my #1 reason to visit Le Mans mainly because of how beautiful this part of the city is. As you walk through the streets, you feel as if you’re transported into a different time! Visiting the old town always made me think about what life must have been like years and years ago. Le Vieux Mans is quaint with its small, cobblestone streets and shuttered windows. You can even make your way to a small overlook where you can see the part of town on the other side of the river. It’s no wonder why some filmmakers decided to use this part of town as a backdrop, like in the film “Cyrano de Bergerac”.
2) L’explorateur [ http://www.creperie-lexplorateur.fr/ ]
This second reason could kind of go hand-in-hand with the first, considering it’s located in Le Vieux Mans. But I had to put it in its own spot on this list. L’explorateur is a magnificent crêperie with an extensive menu of both savory and dessert crêpes. The theme of the restaurant is, if you can tell from its name, travel and exploration, and the menu follows this theme, as the savory crêpes (aka gallettes) are all inspired from different countries around the world! My friends and I went here NUMEROUS times and the owner recognized us pretty early on. He is a super nice guy who always made us feel welcome, even when we showed up literally as the doors opened. If you ever make the trip, I recommend le Québécois, which has a fried egg, bacon, and maple syrup.
3) Day Trips
Le Mans is in a prime location to use as a home base during your visit to France. Located only 1 hour by TGV from Paris, it’s easy to get to if you fly in to Paris, or if you want to visit Paris but not pay extortionate amounts to stay there. If you’re looking to spend a little less money on trains, you can also get a regular-speed train (called the “TER”) which takes about two hours. Prices vary by the type of train and the time of day, but in general I can recall spending usually around 30€ for a one-way ticket.
Some other great cities you can get to that are close-by: Angers, Nantes, Tours, Versailles, Orléans, Rennes…among plenty of others!
PS – The TGV = the “Train de Grande Vitesse”, basically called the “super fast train”. The TER = the “Transport Express Régional”. This one I think you can probably translate yourself! =P
4) The Roman Walls
This is a treat for history buffs and for any Americans who are dying to see something that’s like, 100x older than anything in our history (please don’t fact-check my math. I’m bad at math). According to www.World-Guides.com, the Roman Walls in Le Mans are about 1300m in length and date back to the 3rd century. The walls border Le Vieux Mans, and on the other side is a quaint walking path near the river.
In July and August, there is a light show every night called “La Nuit des Chimères” where different moving picturesare cast up on the Roman Walls and other various structures in the old town. It’s definitely worth checking out. My favorite lights were seen on the Cathédral du Mans.
5) 24h du Mans
Le Mans is probably most well-known for its massive annual sports car race called 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is held in June. Because I lived in Le Mans between August and early May, I didn’t get to experience this event myself. I can share with you some information based on what I was told from colleagues.
First and most importantly: Patrick Dempsey apparently attends each year.
Secondly, and I had to fact-check, this one, there are generally over 200,000 people who attend this event. Considering the population of the city is somewhere around 160,000, that means a lot of tourists go to this event!
Thirdly, a bunch of the main roads in Le Mans are shut down from the public and are used as part of the race track. I can remember a colleague driving me home once and pointing out some of the roads that are used for the race.
There is a museum that you can visit in Le Mans if you’re interested in learning more about this sporting event. My friends and I never made it there so I can’t give you my personal experience, but this event is definitely something to put on the bucket list if you’re a fan of cars and racing.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Le Mans is worth a trip! Please check out any of the links below if you’re interested in doing some of your own research. =)