Le Mans is a French city, located one hour West of Paris by train. While mainly known for its motor race, the city has a lot more to offer. In this city guide, I’ll explain what you need to see when visiting Le Mans and why visiting is a very nice experience.
When visiting Le Mans, I took the TGV from Paris and arrived at the modern Gare du Mans.
From there, it is a good 15-minutes walk to the city center. Alternatively, you might also take the tram.
On the way to the city, I’d recommend having a look at the Place Aristide Briand.
The square is not only quite nice itself, but there are also a memorial and two interesting buildings. Those are the Prefecture de la Sarde and the Église Abbatiale Notre Dame de la Couture.
Additionally, the buildings around the square are quite historic and worth having a look at.
From the Place Aristide Briand it is a three-minute walk to the immediate city center of Le Mans. The Place de la Republique is the centerpiece of Le Mans, but doesn’t have all that much of a historic charme.
Yet, that’s where to go when you are looking for a nice lunch or some shopping. Additionally, I’d recommend looking down the Rue Gambetta, which is going downhill from the square and looks quite cool between the nice architecture and the tram tracks.
Here, you’ll also get a good feeling of the altitude differences in Le Mans.
Before I’ll get to the historic part of Le Mans, I first wanted to get you an idea how the really modern Le Mans looks like. Close to the city center, you can not only find a big shopping center (Centre Commercial Jacobins), but also the futuristic building of the Cité Judicaire Le Mans.
This one is located at the Place des Jacobins, where you can also find the Pathé Cinema, which is located in the fascinating Les Quinconces building.
Among other things, there is another monument here. Yet, the real highlight is the view of the Le Mans Cathedral.
The real highlight of Le Mans definitely is its massive cathedral. It looks even bigger when you look at it from the Place des Jacobins as it is located on a hill.
After climbing up the stairs, you’ll find yourself right in front of the massive building, which is beautifully tucked into the Old Town of Le Mans. You may also enter the unpretentious Cathedral for free.
When you are already “up” on the hill, you should definitely take some time to explore the Old Town of Le Mans. There are several beautiful historic houses in a colorful scenery.
Highlights include the Place Saint Pierre and the Rue Saint Flaceau, but I’d generally recommend just stumbling through the streets for about an hour, I’m sure you’ll love it!
Additionally, you can also find the Mairie of Le Mans (City Hall) in this area.
The Plantegenet artwork right next to the city hall is well worth seeing as well.
Another highlight of Le Mans is having a walk through the Jardin des Tanneries.
It’s a well taken care of park along the River Sarthe, which allows nice views of historic bridges and is a great relaxation in-between sightseeing.
When in the Jardin des Tanneries, you might also have a look at the Historic City Wall with its still existing towers, including the Tour de Tucé, Tour des Ardents and the Tour Hueau.
A special recommendation of mine would be going down from the Old Town to the Jardin des Tanneries at the Escalier du Tunnel.
Here, you get a very special view, which might not be totally spectacular in a historic way, but somewhat feels cool.
It doesn’t do the city of Le Mans justice that is not only known for its motor race. The Old Town and the Cathedral are beautiful, the Jardin des Tanneries is a great place for a walk and the still existing Historic City Wall is fascinating.
The more modern parts of the city are quite nice to see as well. While there are a couple of cities in France I’d rather visit, Le Mans is a great place for a daytrip. Should you be in the area, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit.
Do you have any questions about Le Mans? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!