Le Mans Sights and Landmarks Guide, France
Le Mans becomes a hot destination in June every year when the annual 24-hour car-racing event is held. But then, the city promises much more in the form of attraction than this sporting event owing to its long and rich history. The fact that Le Mans enjoyed a place of special significance is stressed by the presence of a well-preserved old town (referred to as ‘Cité Plantagenêt’) beside the other Le Mans sights.
Before you know more about the Le Mans sights, rejoice in the piece of news that Le Mans is conveniently located and essentially well-connected. A number of west-bound TGV trains running from Paris stop at Le Mans. Regional train services connecting Le Mans to its neighboring cities like Angers, Rennes and Tours are also available. You can also reach Le Mans by road; if you have your own vehicle is perfect good, if not use public bus or the tramway.
Le Mans Sights – Old Town Charms
Start your tour by visiting the city’s old town atop a hill above the Sarthe River. The place is full of age-old buildings and structures – some made of stones and some of timber.
The Town Wall, erected during the Gallo-Roman period deserves special mention. The 3rd century wall runs for several hundred meters and even has towers/entrances with walled flights of steps leading to the river. Of late, excavations close to the river have unearthed Roman baths belonging to the 3rd century.
Beside these ancient attractions, there are a number of medieval and Renaissance structures within the old town. Maison du Pilier rouge, Maison du Drapier, Maison de la Reine-Berengere and other such half-timbered medieval houses make viewing interesting. (Maison de la Reine Bérengère has now been converted into a regional history museum). A good example of Renaissance construction is the Maison d'Adam et d'Eve.
Overlooking the old town is the Cathedral of St-Julien named after the 4th century apostle, who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Le Mans and became the first bishop. The present cathedral stands at the site of the original church built by him. The present-grand structure was built over a period of almost 500 years and is a curious mix of Roman and Gothic styles. The interior is decorated with nice tapestries, stained-glass and frescos.
Also view the ruins of the Palais de Comtes du Maine, where England’s first Plantagenet King, Henry II was born.
Le Mans Sights – Modern Town Attractions
The center of the modern town, known as Place de la République, is characterized by the presence of both Belle Epoch buildings as well as more recent urbane structures. There are two important Christian sites in the vicinity – The church of Visitation and the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture.
Musée de Tessé, close to Tesse Park, is as much famous for its fine art collection as for the two full-sized Egyptian tombs. Do not miss the enamel panel depiction of Geoffrey Plantagenet; it was originally part of his tomb.
Make it a point to visit the Automobile Museum (Musée de l'Automobile) because it represents the present-face of Le Mans. View the car-racing circuit and check the automobile collection – you will come across cars dating back to 1914 as well as present-era racing cars.
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