“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”– Andre Gide.
Le Mans is a well-preserved Medieval city in France on the Sarthe River. Since 1923, the city has hosted the internationally famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race. It’s located about 200 Kilometres south west of Paris. The city also has many industries in the Outskirts.
As a part of my business trip, I got a chance to visit Le Mans in January 2020.
The best and fastest option will be to board a direct fast train (TGV) from Paris-Charles De Gaulle Airport to Le Mans(Gare Du Mans station). Direct train would take around 1.45 Hours (around 53 Euros). Follow the boards (in Paris-Charles De Gaulle Airport) with marking as ‘Trains’ to reach the train station.
Tickets can be purchased well in advance from Rail Europe (https://www.raileurope.com/train-tickets/train-tickets/)
The trains are very comfortable, neat and clean.
For those who want to avoid driving by yourself, you can take the safari mini bus/coaches provided by the park authorities (it comes with a cost).
The tickets / travel cards can be bought from the machines available at the stations. English language is also available on the display screen of the machine. The price is round 1.5 Euros for a 1-hour ticket.
You need to tap the ticket (card) in the device provided in the trams.
There are only 2-3 major taxi/cab companies here in this city and a total of around 30-40 cars are associated with these companies. Throughout my trip, I had used ‘Radio-Taxi’. Their service was very good and prompt. Many cabs don’t accept cards, so its always a good idea to carry some cash with you while going outside.
The People here are very friendly and caring. They always start the conversation with ‘Bonjour’ (‘Hello’ in English).
One of the major concerns for a tourist in this town will be communication, as most of the people here don’t understand English. The issue is to an extend that even staffs at Mc. Donald’s don’t understand words like ‘Salt’ and ‘Pepper’. We had a tough time trying to make them understand what we were looking for.
The Number of hotels in this place is less. I have hardly seen 3-4 hotels. I stayed in Ibis Lemans Centre. It’s a small hotel but stay was good.
In this Trip, I had explored the following places
1. Le Mans Car Museum and Racing track.
The whole city of Lemans is known to the outside world because of the Sports Car Race that happens here. Traditionally, this race happens in the month of June every year. Normally, lakhs of people visit here to see this Race and they stay in Public Camp sites near to this Circuit.
The race was supposed to happen on 13th June 2020, but not sure if it would happen due to the aftereffects of Corona Virus.
There is a Car Museum here (in the North Entrance) which the automobile lovers would love, for sure. The taxi charge from the city center to this palace will be around 17-20 Euros. If you want to save that money, I would suggest taking a tram to station ‘Le Tetre Rogue’ and then walk for 2 Kms (20 min).
The combo ticket for the Museum + Track is around 12.5 Euros.
You can find more details here –> https://www.lemans-musee24h.com/en/
The Museum houses amazing classic cars and memories from the past events. There is also a gift shop from where you can pick up some souvenirs. You can easily spend at least 2 hours in this museum.
2. Cite Plantagenet/ Le Mans Old City:
Its named after the former inhibits of the city named Plantagenets. The most important sites in this area are the Roman Wall, Cathedral and Notre Dame Church.
It has many Cobble stone laid streets with very old houses.
Don’t miss to walk around the old city. Remember that the old city is on a hill. So, if you have any difficulty walking or pushing a pram, it might be a challenge for you. If you want to know more about these places, it will be good to take the help of an experienced guide.
3. Saint Julien de Mans Cathedral (Le Mans Cathedral):
The fabulous Cathedral St Julien is a “must-see”. This beautiful Catholic cathedral was built between 11th and 15th centuries and It has a mixture of styles because of the long-time taken to build it and is one of the largest cathedrals in France. It is dedicated to the first bishop of the city, Saint Julian of Le Mans, who established Christianity in the area around the beginning of the 4th Century. The cathedral features magnificent 13th-century stained-glass windows and two fine Renaissance tombs.
4. Gallo Romans Walls:
This is one of the oldest roman walls to survive.
These walls date back to the 3rd century and span up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) between the Sarthe and the Cathedral in Le Mans, France. The walls were intended to protect this city.
There are many other places that you can explore:
In summer (July, August), the old centre is illuminated with light and sound. I believe this would be a great experience especially for the kids. Seems this known by the name La Nuit des Chimeres.
Lot of details can be found here in this website –> https://www.lemans-tourisme.com/en/
As usual, I had tried exploring some Indian food here in Le-Mans. The two restaurants that I tried was ‘Taj Mahal’ and ‘Bombay’. The food was good at both the places. They normally prepare less Spicy food, but they will make it spicy on request.
Also don’t forget to try some Bagels aswell.