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Destinations from CDG Airport to the Best Things to Do in the Region
CIRCUIT OF THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
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Le Mans is a city with a fascinating history, marked by considerable wealth and conflict. Over time, this city has been the site of several battles that have left an indelible mark on this region of France.
Vindinum in the Early History
From the first century AD, there's evidence of a local population and a settlement called Vindinum where Le Mans is today. This city successively belonged to the Cenomani tribe, Gaul, and finally, the Roman Empire.
The City in Antiquity
In antiquity, the surroundings of the town of Vindinum were frequently raided by barbarians. The hill of Vindinum provided the inhabitants with their only possible defense. In the 4th century, the city changed its name to Civitas Cenomanorum. It was coveted by both Romans and Vandals.
Le Mans in the Middle Ages
The early Middle Ages in this part of France were marked by intense Christianization. By the fifth century, it had become a stronghold of this religion. The bishopric of Le Mans became one of the most significant in the region. As a strategic stronghold, it was subject to regular Viking attacks. Furthermore, internal wars broke out over control of the city. In the 11th century, the lords of Le Mans were fully engaged in the Crusades. However, perhaps the most significant conflict during this historical period was the Hundred Years' War.
Le Mans during the Renaissance
During the Renaissance, Le Mans became a significant center of culture and religion. Writers and artists made their homes there. Religious buildings regained their splendor, thanks in part to the efforts of the Cardinal of Luxembourg. Despite some disputes with Protestants, the city remained a stronghold of Catholicism in France.
A Participant in the French Revolution
The city was the site of one of the most violent civil wars of this period. In the infamous Vendée War, the Battle of Le Mans is considered one of the most decisive and deadly.
Le Mans in Modern Times
After making a significant industrial shift to revitalize its economy through rail infrastructure, the city had to face two major contemporary wars. It is important to remember that it was liberated from German occupation in August 1944 after the famous Battle of Normandy. Today, it is still possible to explore all of these historical events by taking guided tours with a driver guide.
Le Mans nowadays
Le Mans is a city with numerous strengths, making it one of the most appealing regions in France today. It's a bustling city that has diversified its economy.
The Largest Population in the Sarthe Department
The population has remained around 150,000 since the 1970s, making Le Mans the most populous city in the Sarthe department. Its urban area is among the most significant in the Pays de la Loire region. Its active population makes up 57.3%, but it's aging, with residents over 60 years old two percentage points above the national average (22.6%).
An Industrial and Commercial Economy
City administrators have focused on diversifying the local economy. Le Mans has three economic zones: the Novaxis neighborhood, Technoparc, and the West University. These areas host industries, shopping centers, and new technology companies. The most prominent sectors in these technology parks include electronics, automotive, and agribusiness.
The Role of Tourism in the Region
Tourism professionals frequently emphasize the importance of this sector in the region. Indeed, Le Mans ranks highly, just behind larger cities like Angers or Nantes. Its cultural heritage sites are among the most visited in the Pays de la Loire. These include the famous Le Mans Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of Saint-Pierre-la-Cour.
Le Mans Gastronomy
Gastronomy holds a special place for Le Mans residents. The region's chefs have managed to preserve and update traditional dishes. The city is known for its meat and the quality of its livestock; even the French monarchy historically sourced its supplies from here. Local dishes highlight local products through cooked dishes such as rillettes or game preparations.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Region's Major Event
If there's one event that has established this city's reputation, it is undoubtedly the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This race, organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, is one of the most well-known globally. Taking place every second weekend in June before nearly 300,000 spectators, it brings together the world's best drivers for the most famous endurance race. A car service is always punctual is advisable to be able to go around the city during your stay.
What to visit at Le Mans ?
The city is multicultural and rich in history, boasting several sites of great cultural significance.
The Roman Wall of the Old Town
Le Mans was an important city during the period of the Roman Empire and still has remnants of this illustrious past. These include the wall that surrounds the old city. This relic is very well-preserved, leading the Ministry of Culture and Communication to award Le Mans the "City and Country of Art and History" label for its conservation efforts.
The Cathedral of Le Mans
The Saint-Julien Cathedral of Le Mans is the most impressive symbol of the place held by the archbishop of Le Mans during the Middle Ages. Construction began in the eleventh century under Bishop Vulgrin and was completed in 1430. This cathedral is one of the most visited cultural monuments in the Pays de la Loire, with at least 300,000 visitors each year.
Saint-Pierre-la-Cour Collegiate Church
This church has a fascinating history. It was built in the 10th century following the Norman invasion, which caused extensive damage outside the city walls. In the 12th century, it was rebuilt by Henry II. Then, in the thirteenth century, the church was enlarged under the leadership of Charles III of Anjou. Today, in addition to tours, exhibitions are often held in the collegiate church.
The Palace of the Grabatoire
This palace's history is strongly linked to royalty and the Catholic religion. Built in the 16th century by Bishop Courthardy, the palace has hosted French kings, including Louis XIII. It also served as a healing place for Queen Marie de Medici.
The Chapel of the Visitation
The Regency style isn't well represented in Le Mans, with the Chapel of the Visitation serving as one of the few remnants of this period in French history. Fortunately, it's well-located in the Place de la République. The chapel was built in 1723 and at one point was chosen to serve as a courthouse. Consider hiring a driver to take you on a tour of these fascinating sites in the city.
Discover the Saint Julien Le Mans Cathedral
This is an ancient cathedral, constructed between the 11th and 15th centuries. It is distinctive due to its unusual style. Indeed, the perfect blend of roussard stone, limestone, and glass in its structure makes it a unique building. It has even been designated as a medieval archaeological cathedral. Inside, you'll find striking decorations, such as the 47 musician angels, each with a distinct color and in perfect harmony. Each of these angels also holds a different musical instrument, totaling 24 in all. The most astonishing instrument is undoubtedly the sketcher. This place is ideal for those fascinated by various instruments from the Middle Ages.
You'll also have the opportunity to appreciate funeral arts, such as the tomb of Guillaume Du Bellay with his sculpture, or the various buried bodies of bishops and prominent figures like Geoffrey Plantagenet, the princes of Luxembourg, and many others. Additionally, you'll find artwork, sculptures, and terracotta pieces, some of which date back to the 17th century. Among these works, you'll see the Great Sepulcher, by Gervais Delabarre, which depicts the sorrow of the Virgin and the Apostles.
But that's not all; you'll also discover a stunning organ, one of the most beautiful French Renaissance structures. This piece, dating from 1519, was created by the renowned architect Simon Hayneufvre. Besides all of these, you'll also see tapestries and stained-glass windows, each as magnificent and breathtaking as the last. As for visiting hours, they vary depending on the time of year.
Don't miss the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum !
Are you a fan of cars, motorsports, or more specifically, the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Don't miss the opportunity to visit the automobile museum. It will give you a chance to explore the history of this competition and sport.
Various themes for your exploration
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum is organized by theme, ensuring you can enjoy diverse exhibitions throughout the year, each as interesting as the other. For instance, you could explore the collection "revolution year by year."
Admire the most exquisite sports vehicles up close
Visiting the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum will offer you the chance to admire some of the most beautiful sports vehicles from different eras. Across the 300 m² showroom, top brands like Bentley, Ferrari, and many others will be on display.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions, the schedule for which is available on its website. These could be fairs or exhibitions of specific brands. These exhibitions will be a real treat for adrenaline seekers.
Behind the Scenes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Have you always wanted to see behind the scenes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans? A visit to the museum will allow you to do this at no extra cost. You will have the opportunity to see all the circuit's infrastructure: the Dunlop footbridge, the village, and the nine points of the site.
Car service at the airport to Le Mans
Le Mans, a significant city in the French Grand West, is situated 47.9 km from La Flèche Zoo and a mere 7 km from the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum. However, the nearest airports are Orly Airport, located 202.2 km away, and Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport, which is 230.1 km away.