For in-the-know Parisians, the Sarthe department offers the perfect holiday getaway, not far from the bustling French capital. By TGV, you’re just 54 minutes from Paris, and access by air is also easy; the Angers airport is only 95 kilometers away, while Nantes is 186 kilometers away, and Paris Orly is 190 kms. City dwellers flock to the beautiful countryside for some fresh air, cycling, not to mention the myriad attractions for children.
The Sarthe department is perhaps most famous for its capital city of Le Mans. Motor racing enthusiasts head to Le Mans in June for the famous endurance sports car race. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest such race of its kind.
But beyond the thrill of adrenaline-pumping competition, Le Mans is a designated French Ville d’Art et Histoire, brimming with cultural heritage. For example, the city has impresssive Roman Ruins. Standing for over 17 centuries, the city’s Roman wall is unique in France, and the best example of its kind outside of Rome and Istanbul. There are also ruins of Roman baths.
What’s more, Le Mans was one of the first French cities to be supplied with electricity, and in the summer months, the city organises nighttime walks to see light shows on 50 sites and monuments, including the cathedral, beautifully lit up as part of La Nuit des Chimères.
The Sarthe department’s natural beauty is best appreciated while riding a bicycle. There are over 430 kilometers of cycling paths snaking through the department’s beautiful landscapes and historic patrimony. For long-distance bikers, a network of accommodations has been established called “Accueil Vélo” – which designates places where you can stop to eat and sleep, with a secure site to put your bike overnight.
For families traveling with children, the Sarthe department is a paradise of animal parks and attractions. Visitors to the Zoo de la Flèche routinely describe it as one of the original they’ve ever visited; you can actually overnight in a safari lodge right next to animals like the Arctic wolves, white tigers, and polar bears. What an adventure!
There are a number of fabulous events and festivals during the year in the Sarthe, so mark your calendars! There’s the Europa Jazz Festival Rock Ici Mômes à Sableé-sur-Sarthe, the Festival Baroque de Sablé, to name just a few!
To learn more about the marvelous vacationing opportunities in the Sarthe department, visit www.tourism.sarthe.com
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