A charming and dynamic region?
Well I will answer you that yes. But do you really know Sarthe, apart from the 24 hours of Le Mans, rillettes, chicken…? I will show you that this region offers much more than these clichés.
I very frequently drive from Paris to the Atlantic coast. The Sarthe is precisely halfway and I often stopped on the A11 freeway at Le Mans without ever really visiting this region “in between”.
Why not take a real break and stay there before going to the coast? Then why not make a small weekend in the region which is just 2 hours from Paris by car or 1 hour by train?
If this summer you are looking for an easy, disconnecting destination, 2 hours from Paris, not very busy and which combines Nature, Culture, Adventure, read and look at my pictures below!
Discover the key points of the Sarthe region, 2 hours from Paris:
- Le Mans
- Plantagenet City
- The Night of the Chimeras
- Boat trips on the Sarthe river
- MoulinSart Island
- Carnuta: Museum of Man and the Forest
- Domaine de Gasseau
- Saint Léonard-des-Bois
- The castles of Sarthe
This region is located in a few figures 200km from Paris, 2 hours by freeway and 1 hour by train, 150 000 inhabitants (350 000 in the agglomeration) and 3rd most populated city of the region “Pays de la Loire”.
The Plantagenet City
This city is the old town of Le Mans. The car traffic is limited there. Walking there is therefore very pleasant. This district is particularly photogenic! we would think we are in the Middle Ages.
The Night of the Chimeras
Every summer for the past 10 years, night light shows have been held all over the old town, especially on the ramparts and the cathedral. Just for that alone, stop in Le Mans if you have the opportunity, it really deserves a stop.
South of Le Mans: activities for families
Electric boat trip on the Sarthe river
An idea for an unusual family weekend: you can take a cruise on board an electric boat on the Sarthe river and sleep there! From La Suze, you can go either to Malicorne or Le Mans.
For more information, click here!
Workshop Bread on the Island MoulinSart
The Ile Moulinsart is a small base of tourist and cultural activity organized around an old mill on the Sarthe. Who says mill, says flour, and who says flour says bread! There are workshops organized for children where you can make your own bread. We tested it and it’s very nice!
For more information, it is here!
Carnuta, Museum of Man and the Forest
Carnuta (see more here), is an educational museum especially for children about the forest where you learn for example how to evaluate the age of a tree. The architecture of the museum is also interesting from a photographic point of view. For the photo, you should also take a walk in the nearby Bercé forest with its tight rows of large oaks.
North of Le Mans : Les Alpes Mancelles
Definitely my favorite of the region, Fresnay-sur-Sarthe is a magnificent medieval city that borders the Sarthe river with its castle overlooking it. The place is really very photogenic, especially the view in the heights on the other side of the bank of the castle.
Concerning the street with the umbrellas… I can’t tell you that they are there all the time but you just have to walk not far from the church to find them.
Tree climbing at Domaine du Gasseau
The Domaine de Gasseau is a site that offers activities such as horseback riding, a big multi-level tree climbing, concerts, a garden. In short, a perfect place to spend the afternoon.
Electric Buggy in Saint-Léonard-des-Bois
After the electric boat, the electric Buggy to visit the forest around Saint-Léonard-des-Bois in the Alpes Mancelles. A real adrenalin-filled sensation activity, while enjoying nature almost noiselessly! I loved it!
The site also offers unusual accommodations: see more here
The Castles of Sarthe
The Castles of the Sarthe can be integrated into the Loire Valley Castles. Notably the impressive Castle of Lude which competes with the biggest in the valley.
For the record, Castle of Lude was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War. Sounds & lights are organized in the garden of the castle in summer (but I haven’t covered them yet!).
Castle of Courtanvaux
Another interesting castle to visit in the Sarthe, between Le Mans and Vendôme, is the castle of Courtanvaux.
As you can see, there is really enough to spend a weekend in the Sarthe! Big advantage also: the region being not very touristy, you will find cheap accommodation even at the last minute! An ideal and successful weekend for sure!
For more information about Sarthe, you can also consult the website of the tourist office here.