24 hours in Le Mans
Treat yourself to a trip to Le Mans and discover the unmissable points of interest in the City of the Cenomani, as well as little places that are often well-hidden! Here's our suggestion for a well-paced tour over a typical day.
10.30 am: Shopping with a rillette champion
To stock up on the famous Le Mans rillette, head for Christophe and Lydie Brisset's charcuterie, which regularly wins gold medals at the prestigious Mamers competition. Cooking it slowly with the best cuts of Label Rouge pork from Vallégrain, in the Perche, gives this delicious treat an incomparable taste and texture.
8, boulevard Curie
11.05 am: Rapture in the Chapelle de la Visitation
Cross the Pont de Fer and join the place de la République to discover an architectural gem restored over many years of work. The Chapelle de la Visitation now has a stunning façade that highlights the graceful elegance of its Regency style, usually very rare in the West.
2, place de la République
11.25 am: Stroll in an amazing art gallery
The wonderful idea of the architecture firm Kamaléon, which has set up a genuine little gallery on its premises dedicated to street art! Exhibitions follow on from one another, with sharp choices and delightful audacity.
10, rue du Cornet
11.50 am: A little tour in a wine shop
Yes sir! Wine is also produced in the Sarthe, particularly Jasnières, a delicate and elegant white that appears on the tables of the Elysée or Matignon. In his shop, Le Bar à Vin, Philippe Dreyer celebrates the products of different winemakers that showcase this appellation.
3, rue du Cornet
12.20 pm: Feast at the Auberge des 7 plats
A little advice: book or arrive a little early to be sure to enjoy the main course & coffee set price meal for €10.90 at this address renowned beyond Le Mans! Opt for the house speciality, a beef steak that melts in the mouth, sliced thinly and served with peppercorn, curry or roquefort sauce, resting on a potato rosti and served with a cep and Jerusalem artichoke purée. For a few coins more, treat yourself to the best pain perdu in the West as a grand finale.
79, Grande Rue
1.45 pm: In the workshop of a master stained-glass maker
If you don't see him in the shop, he's bound to be busy in the back, on his mounting table. Don't hesitate to pop into the Atelier 1,2,3 Vitrail where Frédéric Troisième, a master glass-maker, makes stunning creations for private customers! This true devotee, who is happy to tell you about his art, also offers small stained-glass objects and jewellery at modest sums.
53, Grande Rue
2.15 pm: Stroll around the City of Plantagenet
It's no surprise that many swashbuckling films have been filmed between the timber-framed houses and cobbles of the city's historic centre, renamed the City of the Plantagenet! Inside this maze of little streets, a little hidden courtyard is revealed, as well as a magnificent Renaissance hotel. Above all, don't miss the paintings of the musician angels in the Saint-Julien cathedral during your stroll. The Carré Plantagenêt also hosts the Maine Museum of Archaeology and History.
3.35 pm: Shopping in a designer boutique
Between the walls of her elegant red-fronted shop, Les Créateurs, Paula displays her finds, many of which come from the local hotbed of creativity. Examples include mugs and postcards on which Caro From Le Mans designs the superheroes from the Rillet' Family, the little pieces of cardboard furniture by Cartonnath of the retro jewellery by Atelier 27.611.
5, place du Hallai
4.05 pm: Teatime in an unusual salon de thé
At Déodéba, they've chosen to combine a tearoom with a second-hand clothes and accessories shop and an artisan home decoration shop. The place is also home to one of the city's quietest terraces, on the cobblestones themselves, opposite the cathedral. Perfect for sipping a hot chocolate, a tea from the Jardins de Gaïa or an organic fruit juice while snacking on little sweet treats.
3 bis, place Saint-Michel
4.45 pm: Visit the Musée de Tessé
Located within the walls of the old episcopal palace, the Musée de Tessé is dedicated to fine arts and houses an amazing collections of works, including Le Sommeil d'Elie, the painting by Philippe de Champaigne that has travelled the world. In the adjacent park, spend a few moments of quite reflection in front of the Sablier Géant (Giant Hourglass), a monumental creation through which 40 tonnes of sand run gently to count the passing days...
2, avenue de Paderborn
6.15 pm: Stroll along the majestic Roman ramparts
As you reach the little walkways of the quai Louis Blanc, you will discover the Roman ramparts, an almost one-of-a-kind vestige in France. This long high wall, which proudly exhibits its wealth of decoration and brickwork, has long given Le Mans the nickname of the "red city". Don't hesitate to explore a little further and cross the Pont Yssoir to discover the Notre-Dame presbytery, thought to be one of the finest monuments in the Maine!
Quai Louis Blanc
7.30 pm: Aperitif and dinner at l'Un des Sens!
With its cheese and charcuterie gleaned from the country's finest producers, l'Un des Sens has carved out a solid reputation for itself. In the soft ambiance of the restaurant, feast on cured ham from the Aldudes valley, Noir de Bigorre pork, goat's cheese from the Sarthes, tomme de vache cheese from the Ferme de Beaussay, and more, all washed down with a top-class red wine from the house selection.
9, rue du Docteur Leroy