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The city of Le Mans is known all over the world for its 24 Hour Race, but the city centre, Cité Plantagenêt is also worth seeing.
The old town of Le Mans reflects the different periods of its construction from 11th through to the 15th century. In this beautifully restored area you will find the region’s largest number of half-timbered houses, and the St-Julien Cathedral , a Romanesque and Gothic masterpiece. Next to the cathedral stands the ‘Menhir’ , the oldest historical vestige in the city. This large standing stone is thought of as the ‘belly button’ of Le Mans and visitors are encouraged to rub the stone when they visit.
Le Mans' historic heart features magnificent mansions and is circled by a remarkable 3rd century Roman wall, the best preserved in Europe. A visit to the Carré Plantagenêt Museum is a good way to learn more about the city and the region. The building itself is a marvel of contemporary architecture that boldly incorporates an old print works into its design. The tiny but exquisite Musée de la Reine Bérengère is also worth a visit.
As to Le Mans' 24 Hour race, it began in 1923 and has been drawing huge crowds ever since. Every 2 years is the Le Mans classic . Original cars or identical models to those that participated between 1923 and 1979 compete on the 24 hour track.
You can also visit Le Mans' 24 Hour museum devoted to this famous race, depicting its most glorious moments. You can learn about all the professionals and volunteers who make this legendary event happen. You will see how the Sarthe and, in particular, the Bollée family was a driving force in automotive innovation. The visit is great for families; ‘Leon’ the museum mascot introduces special kids’ events and helps children discover the history of the 24 hour race in an interactive way.