Every summer the town of Le Mans creates its own outdoor cinema with the wondrous "Nuits des Chimeres". A feast for the eyes, every evening at nightfall the old "Cité Plantagenet" comes to life with this free light show. Different parts of the town including the cathedral, the ramparts and the Jacobin fountain are painted with colour. The cathedral...more
For those that cannot stand the constant noise of the "normal" Le Mans 24 hours race, there is always this "classic" where Bugatti, Packhard, Ford GT40 still mean something and the circuit is littered with ols Lotus 7's, Morgans, Jaguar E-types and other beauties from a few years back. There is of course racing going on, but not with the same...more
Every year around the same period La Mans stages its circus carnival along the Sarthe river, through some of the old streets and around the cathedral. With a circus theme there are acts from around France plus differents associations have floats. For the kids this is a great evening starting around 20h30 on Saturday 30th June 2012 (this years...more
The choir stalls are covered by a series of 16C tapestries on thelives of Sts. Gervase and Protase. in a vivid style. I know nothing about them except that a church in their honor looks at the back (east side) of the Hotel de Ville in Paris. There are tapstries in other parts of the church to St. Julian and banners of bishop's of similar type...more
The two tombs at the North Transept are fine examples of funerary sculpture. The classical looking one is of Charles d'Anjou (died 1472) and is by Francesco Laurana a very famous Florentine from Croatia. The second showing a man reclining on his bent arm is of Guillaume de Bellay (died 1573), a powerful deputy of Francois I (also of Italian...more
The transepts were the last addition to the church (14-15C) and a graceful addition. The North Rose has 15C glass while the South transept is filled by a large 16C organ loft. The stonework of the North end is particularly elaborate. In the East arm of the North transept is the Baptismal Chapel and at its entrance are two exceptional tombs.more
The Choir and a double ambulatory were started in 1217 along witha raising of the height of the nave roof.This was designed to be as tall (actually taller) as Notre Dame de Paris. The ambulatory has a megical 7-segment partition with 7 radiating chapels, the largest being the apsidial Lady Chapel with a 17C wrought-iron grill. The inner ambulatory...more
The interior of the Cathedral reflects its long building period. The nave is pure Romanesque with 11C (!) round arches. later raised to points within elevated Angevine vaulting. This is supported upon the alternating thick and thin pillars making for two-arched segments. The capitals are decorated and support atlantoid grotesques are added. The...more
The western part of the cathedral rests high up in the old town. The apse and flying buttresses sit above a wall that is part of the old ramparts and look far down on the Place des Jacobins. The south porch, the west facade, and the menhir are in the open high ground in the old town, as are the south side of the nave and the S. transept as far as...more
There are many fine old buildings around the church. Beyond the West Facade ther are a Renaissance Turret House and a 16C mansion nxt to it. Interesting buildings jut out in every direction and down each street and alley. The r. Berengere is a good example--look ahead and around.more
Just beyond the south end of the West Facade of the cathedral. on its south side is a tall red stone with curved parallel ridges carved into its surface. This is a menhir (Breton for tall stone). We were to subsequently see numerous others in Brittany (and one much larger). It is customary to touch it as a mystic symbol that you will return here...more
One of those places that you go into because you're freezing your n**s off, and then are very glad that you did. There is of course an a la carte menu, but every day there is a menu at 10€. At first I thought yeah ok, for 10€ we're still going to be hungry afterwards. Not a bit of it!!! Hors d'oeuvre, main meal, dessert, a coffee and a glass of...more
Nicely placed in the centre of the old part of Le Mans, just opposite the Town Hall and 5 minutes from the cathedral, I really enjoyed my meal here. Fortunately we had reserved as it was quite full, including the outside terrace. Waiters and waitresses were always smiling and polite, going out of their way to be nice with the grandchildren (never...more
Not really a nightlife kind of place, although the fountains in the gardens are great to see in the evenings.
36 Reviews and Opinions
If you take a tour of the castle, the best way is to go in a group tour and pay the top price so you can see the King's private quarters and the Opera house. Very cool places.
One of the advantages of renting a car as a mode of independent travel, is that it allows you to explore sites not visited by other tourists, especially if you are not in a hurry. When we plan, we always meticulously examine the local Guide Michelin and old Blue Guides. These often clue us to places to stop for a little enroute (sometimes with 5-10...more
Le Mans is famous for its 24-hr motor road races. There is also a track for motorcycles and within the precinct is a horserace track. I cannot drive and take pictures at the same time and so there is no illustration. Most of the circuit is typical well paved country roads except for two very abrupt right angle bends and a hairpin turn near the stands (which we did not drive).It progresses by D139, 140 & 138. We did this early one morning in May (one month before the annual event) ostensibly to interest our 10 yr old grandson, but it was too early and he dozed off. He also showed no desire to explore "those old cars" or even look at the grandstand. (A decade later he is still moaning over the lost opportunity, I should have MADE him look). So, I have driven Le Mans (but not the Bugatti circuit).