A Traveller's Guide to Le Mans, France
Situated on the Sarthe River in north-west France, the capital of the Maine province Le Mans is famous for hosting the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
Getting To and Around Le Mans
Connected by the A11 L’Oceane highway from Paris to Nantes and the A81 to the West, Le Mans is well connected to France’s main motorways. The drive to Le Mans takes around 2 hours from Paris.
Most west-bound services on the TGV high speed rail stop in Le Mans, with the 210km trip from Paris Gare Montparnasse station taking just under and hour. A direct service from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Nantes or Bordeaux also stops in Le Mans, with a combined rail and air tickets available. A regional train service is also available, linking Le Mans with Bordeaux, Bretagne and Nantes.
The city only has a small airfield which is mainly for private and charter planes. Flights from London and Porto land at the Aeroport Tours Val de Loire which is located 60 miles from Le Mans in the city of Tours.
Buses and light rail services are available to help you to get around Le Mans. The light rail services runs from west to east across town. If walking, most attractions and amenities in town take a maximum of 30 minutes to reach, except for the race circuit which is a 20 minutes taxi ride or one and a half hour bus ride from the town centre. It is however possible to walk through the circuit, and may even be quicker on the race day due to traffic congestion and road blocks.
Things To See and Do In Le Mans
Before exploring Le Mans, ensure that you visit the Office du Tourisme located at Rue de l'Etoile which will provide you with all the information you need about the major sights and how to get there.
Le Mans is home to one of the largest churches in France, the magnificent Saint-Julien Cathedral, which is located in the heart of town. The Cathedral displays a mix of architectural styles, with is construction commencing in the 11th century and taking over 500 years to complete. Its 12th century stained glass window is the oldest surviving stained glass in the world.
Just behind the cathedral is the Old City (Cite Plantagenet), featuring various buildings and houses dating back to the middle ages, including the Palais de Comtes du Maine. The Musee de la Reine Berengere is also located in the Old City where you can find out more about local history.
Ruins of Roman times can also be seen in Le Mans, including the wall, old town and baths by the river.
The Automobile Museum close to the race circuit and parts of the race circuit itself are accessible to visitors all year around. The 24 Heurs de Mans race is held in June.