Saturday morning started with blue sky and warm temperatures and a visit to the Cathedral Saint Julian. We had circled the cathedral already the evening before, but seeing it from the inside was totally different. In this cathedral Henri II had been baptized and his parents got married. The architectural style followed the building school of Bourges which stood in competition with the one in Chartres. Apparently only a few churches are in this style. Maybe that’s why in 1862 it was already declared a ‘monument historique‘. The cathedral by the way has its roots in the year 500, but got its current form in the 13th and 14th century.
And here is my favorite picture from the facade of the cathedral. It looks almost as if the two soldiers are hugging each other. If you are not as positively inclined as me, then let’s agree at least on them supporting each other.
The tourist office of Le Mans had a wonderful map to easily explore the Cité Plantagenêt in detail. Of course we knew that it’s full of historic places and houses but we didn’t want to miss a thing. Two walking tours were indicated and we chose the one inside the Cité Plantagenêt. It was the reason we were in Le Mans after all. It was a hot and sunny afternoon and the different houses, like the levitated one, made an deep impression on us.
The Carré Plantagenêt, which is a fancy name for the Musée Jean-Claude Boulard, gave us a splendid tour through the history of Le Mans. Plus it offered free entry for everyone. That’s what I call a generous education program for locals and tourists alike. So we escaped the sunshine and spent an hour in cool air.
After studying everything from prehistoric to Roman settlements in the area, we finally came upon an email plaque dedicated to Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou and more important, father of Henry II. Henry II was of course the father of Richard Lionheart. The plaque is a beautiful work of art in vivid colors, but also has great historic value.
Before going to bed that evening we decided to walk off the calories of dinner by following the second recommended tour of the tourist information map. This time we would walk around the perimeters of the Cité Plantagenêt and not inside, mostly following the city wall.
As you can see the city wall has a red color, which led in the 17th century Le Mans to be known as one of the four red cities, with the others being Bourges, Lyon, and Limoges.
The Roman city wall had six large gates. Three of these are still remaining today, including the ‘Great Postern’ below. In the 16th century it was turned into stairs, which are still used today.
The next morning, a Sunday, our breakfast place next door was closed so we headed to the weekly market right below the cathedral Saint Julian. Lots of local produce, flowers, baked goods, and other stuff were on display. The cathedral made a nice backdrop to the bustling scene.
The plan was then to take the tram to the train station, but it turned out that on Sunday it only runs every 20 minutes. So we walked again and were faster even than by tram. It was definitely a nice way to get the blood going before sitting on the train to our next destination. Yours, Pollybert