Le Mans travel guide

Cities and towns

About Le Mans

Le Mans in Pays de la Loire is a modern city with a diverse heritage.

Although best known for its motorsports connections, specifically the famous 24 hour Le Mans motorsport endurance race, it is also steeped in history. A fortified Roman town built on a prehistoric settlement, and the former capital of the Maine Department, Le Mans' history spans millennia and can be explored in the city's many museums.

Don't miss a trip to the menhir, a 7000 year old sacred stone that stands near the striking Cathédrale St Julien. From the well preserved relic of a Roman wall to the Gothic and Renaissance churches, and the wood framed houses of the 15th century, the stunning architecture showcases a lively history and the reasons for the city's popularity as a location for film shoots such as The Man in the Iron Mask. The beautiful architecture quite literally lights up the city as the stunning Light Trail illuminates the buildings at night. 

Take a ride in a Barouche carriage through the streets of the Old Town with its eclectic mix of small boutiques and the daily market at Place du Marché where you can buy delicious local cheeses. Relish the rich taste of Le Mans' specialist dish of rillettes - a pâté style meat dish traditionally made from pork and spread thickly on toast. Don't forget to enjoy the renowned wines of the Loire Valley in the city's excellent restaurants and bars.

If you're holidaying in Le Mans, then some recommended trips are to the historic town of Laval and the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park which are both just over an hour's drive.

Why visit Le Mans?

  • Le Mans 24 hour race
  • The Architecture
  • The Old Town
  • The museums

Overview

  • Country: France
  • Region: Western Loire
  • Department: Sarthe
  • Population: 148,000
  • Coordinates: 48.010827,0.196724

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

This gorgeous royal palace was the childhood home of King Henry II and where Queen Berengaria stayed after the death of her husband, Richard the Lionheart.

Visit the Musée de la Reine Bérengère, the Museum of History and Archaeology, to uncover Le Mans' rich past with over 1,200 objects from prehistory through to the 15th century.

The Cathédrale St Julien is an incredible structure and, at over 130m long, it is one of the largest cathedrals in France. Built between the 11th and 15th centuries, its architecture covers a diverse range of styles but...

The Musée de Tessé, contains fine art paintings from Italian, Flemish, Dutch and French painters and has a gallery devoted to the art of ancient Egyptian tombs.

Places to visit nearby

Laval in Western Loire is a pretty town on the Mayenne river where a charming château sits on a rocky outcrop, and some remarkably well-preserved Gallo-Roman baths can be found nearby.

Tours in the Loire Valley is a modern city with a history dating back to the Romans that is famous for its architecture, wines and markets.

Angers in Atlantic Loire Valley is an artistic city on the banks of the River Maine, that is steeped in medieval history and full of beautiful gardens and parks.

Nearby events

Les 24H Vélo Shimano, cycling competition

A prestigious challenge.And they're off, for a whole day and night! Once again, the 24 hour cycling...

Marathon des Ecluses

Scenery to take your breath away.These two challenges unite sporting prowess with humanitarian...

Les Accroche-Cœurs, festival

Bringing theatre out into the streets.The Accroche-Cœurs is an annual theatre festival that takes...