Best known for its annual 24-hour motorsport race, Le Mans is a city synonymous with speed. Besides its racing heritage, the French city has much to offer, including an assortment of charming architecture, delectable cuisine and impressive museums.
The legacy of Le Mans is undoubtedly the 24-hour-long endurance sports car race which began in 1923. The race normally falls on a mid-June weekend, but if you can’t be there for the big event itself then the circuit is still worth visiting for its on-site museum. Inside, you’ll find legendary cars that competed in the event, as well as the stories of the drivers who battled day and night in search of glory.
As you wander through the streets of Le Mans, you’ll notice endless menu boards offering ‘rillettes’ – the city’s signature dish. Consisting of salted pork slow-cooked in fat, the result is a pâté-like spread which is delicious on a toasted baguette. Typically served in a glass pot, the dish comes in other varieties made with duck, chicken and fish.
Le Mans is enveloped by ancient Gallo-Roman walls, dotted with dozens of towers and friezes. Follow this trail of sandstone and pink mortar to discover the hidden gems of the historic quarter known as the ‘Cité Plantagenêt’. Its cobblestone streets are lined with half-timbered houses and Renaissance palaces, but the centrepiece is Le Mans Cathedral, whose Gothic facade exhibits remarkable 13th-century sculptures. Be sure to look inside and appreciate the medieval stained-glass windows.