Surrounded by Gallo-Romans walls, the city of Le Mans is a place where a lot of things goes on.
Globally known for hosting the world’s oldest motor race still going and remains one of the ultimate tests of skills and endurance for drivers and vehicles. The circuit’s museum is a veritable treasure of racing heritage to visit. Of the 120 vehicles on show, 40 are race-cars that competed in the event.
Yet Le Mans has been the place of many other events, it was where the king Richard the Lionheart’s wife Berengaria of Navarre lived and died here, and the Cité Plantagenêt is an entire district of real medieval houses unaffected by time. The Cité Plantagenêt may be one of the best-kept secrets in France, which ruled England for more than 300 years.
Le Mans’ museum of fine arts in the former Episcopal palace and shines for its trove of Ancient Egyptian archaeology. The marquee exhibit is the gilded sarcophagus of the priest Nakhmontou from the 17th dynasty, 3,500 years ago. And its collections of French, Italian, Flemish and Dutch paintings ranging from the 15th to the 20th century.
24H Automobile race: Since 1923, the city has hosted the internationally famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race. The circuit is a site of pilgrimage for motorsport fanatics and a noteworthy piece of modern heritage for everyone else.
Some sections of the track are used as public roads for a lot of the year, while the race itself normally falls on a weekend in mid-June.
La nuit des chimères: Translating as the “Night of Dreams”, from Tuesday to Saturday in the summer Le Mans’ seven main monuments are the canvas for artful light displays. These whimsical projections have historic themes to match their landmarks; On the cathedral are gothic-style frescos with knights, signs of the zodiac, angels and legendary beasts.
How to get around?
The modern city centre is the Place de la Republique, whereas the old heart of the city is behind the Place des Jacobins. Various shops (including the Centre Jacobins shopping center), bars and restaurants dot the 20 min walk between the two areas.
You will also find good public transport such as buses are available, and a tramway is in operation.
The TGV stops in Le Mans, and many TGV West-bounded trains leaving from Paris stop in Le Mans.
From Gare Montparnasse in Paris, there are trains every hour or so, and the 210-km trip takes 55 min.