Loir Valley & Pays du Mans: a detour outside the castles

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A little further north of the Loire Valley, its flamboyant castles and its many points of interest, there is a region to discover off the beaten track. Just 2 hours from Paris, nestles a little corner of nature blessed by the gods. With its magical light, its colorful landscapes, its local cuisine, its vineyards and its marvelous gardens, the Loir Valley and the Pays du Mans are two wonderful destinations.

What secrets will you discover there?
Picturesque villages like Chartre-sur-le-Loir with more than a dozen second-hand goods dealers along the pretty streets, historic towns like Le Mans and its famous Cité Plantagenêt. A mild climate in spring and (especially) sunny in summer.

An ideal destination for hiking and cycling, along the vineyards or remarkable forests such as those of Bercé, labeled exceptional forest, and that of Sillé-le-Guillaume. Castles, hunting lodges and medieval fortresses, as in the Loire. The region has more than 140 in total!

The Château du Lude, inhabited by the Countess Barbara de Nicolaÿ, for example, is made of the same white stone, tufa, which reflects beautiful lights in every season. Don’t miss the Ballon dungeon or the Château de Sourches either: this is where Mme de Jonquières was filmed and it has a conservatory garden around peonies that is unique in the world.

Wines and rillettes
Lovers of good food and fine wine, this destination is made for you too. The vine has a long history here: during the Renaissance, Ronsard and Rabelais were already celebrating its wines. Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières still offer today remarkable talents whose palette goes from white to red, passing through “grey” and rosé.

They go wonderfully with, for example, the famous Le Mans rillettes. Other local products are to be discovered absolutely, such as the black hen ‘La Flèche’ or Le Mans or the artisanal biscuits of La Sablésienne. Certainly, this region is a real land of plenty.

In the countries of 24 hours
It’s really impossible to get bored here. Throughout the year, a series of events animates the region. In Le Mans, the Night of the Chimeras is an institution. This free night trail is held throughout the summer (from 07/01/2023 to 09/03/2023) in the streets of the old town. At the beginning of June (on the 3rd and 4th precisely), the Gardeners’ Festival is in full swing at the Château du Lude.

In September (23 and 24/09), the association Entre Cours & Jardins unveils a private and hidden heritage – the secret gardens. It also highlights the historic heart of the city of Le Mans thanks to the talents and know-how of florists and passionate exhibitors. Another unmissable event this year: the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hour Race and Le Mans Classic.

This will be an opportunity to take part in the many events that will take place in Le Mans to celebrate this centenary (reconstruction of the route of the 1923 circuit, exhibition of 45 plaques of the winning drivers of the 24 Hours between Le Mans station and the prefecture, etc.).

In connection with the famous race, a new cultural address is opening in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir: at the museum of old shops and Grégoire Courtin’s cabinet of curiosities, you can discover an astonishing miniature 24-hour Le Mans collection! More specifically, a collection of 180 Aston Martins in 1/43rd format that took part in the famous endurance racing event.

Where the nights are as beautiful as the days

In the Loir Valley, there are such beautiful addresses that your accommodation will bring you as many sweet memories as your activities and visits to the region. Like, for example, La Templerie, a historic 18th century manor house in Fléchoise transformed into a guest house, or the brand new Manoir Auvray. Or the Maison des Bois, a cabin in the middle of the vines decorated by its second-hand dealer owners.

At the Domaine de l’Epau, there are brand new ecolodges built of wood and earth that accommodate travelers in the middle of a natural area of ​​5 hectares. As for Sacrée Cabane, it’s actually a Tiny house with hot tub designed for a real moment of escape. More ‘roots’, we stay at the Ferme des Lamas in a converted old wine press or even in a bell tent for a glamping formula.

Catherine Mills Avatar