Around Ancinnes

In the far north of the Sarthe as you enter Lower Normandy you will find Ancinnes in the Parc Maine Normand, just as you enter Lower Normandy. Ancinnes is surrounded by the stunning forest of Perseigne, fields and hedge-lined roads linking one village to the next. There is an ancient Roman road that runs in an arrow-straight line all the way from Fresnay in the Alpes Mancelles to Mamers in the Perche.

The forests and many walking trails in the Perseigne, Belleme and Ecouves forests are excellent for exploring on foot or by bicycle - in spring and autumn mushrooming in the woods is an extraordinarily popular pastime, while the sound of hunting horns can be heard in the winter months.

Alpes Mancelles

Another popular spot for locals is the nearby Coco Plage at Sillé-le-Guillaume. This huge man-made lake set in the forest is the perfect place to try outdoor activities, on and off the water. Less strenous is a visit to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, a fortified town with a 12th-century church whose sculpted door dates from 1528, while a drive up into the hills of the Alpes Mancelles leads to one of the prettiest villages in France, Saint-Céneri-le Gérei. This hilltop village is a magnet for artists who are inspired by its setting and charming hoouses. Its church is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river valley, while a small chapel dating back to the days when Viking invaders pillaged the area sits alone in a field, backed by a wooded hillside. At the nearby St Leonard du Bois there is a centre for canoeing and rock climbing.


East of Ancinnes is the beautiful Perche park, with gently rolling fields dotted with woods and forests. One attraction is the peculiar 11th-century church-cum-château in Saint-Georges-du-Rosay; remarkable for the terracotta statues inside, it typifies the area's rich architectural appeal. Among the many other worthwhile places to visit in the Perche and Saosnois area is the town of La Ferté-Bernard on the River Huisne. Often called the 'Little Venice of the West', its medieval architecture is best appreciated on a boat trip that starts near the tourist office. For another day out, popular with children, go to the Domaine de Pesheray, an animal park and mini golf course set in the grounds of a 16th-century château.


To our north the departement of the Orne and the Pays d'Auge in Lower Normandy are waiting for you to explore. This is an area famous for its farm produce - apples and pears for making cider, pommeau, poiré and calvados; cream for making Camembert, Pont l'Eveque and Livarot cheeses; plus beef and veal and poultry besides. There are some wonderful chateaux and gardens to visit, too. Just 10 minutes from us you will find the capital of the Orne - Alençon. With its pretty cobbled streets, the gothic church of Our Lady, chateau-keep (now housing the town courtrooms and prison cells!) and numerous bars and restaurants it is well worth a visit.

Mont St Michel, Normandy beaches, Bayeux

Further west we recommend a day trip to Mont St Michel to see the stunning World Heritage site of the island abbey on the coast of Normandy; and for another day out pay homage to those who died in the battle for Normandy by visiting the Caen Memorial and the D-Day landing beaches, with the nearby Bayeux tapestry thrown in for good measure.

Lower Normandy & Pays de la Loire

Ancinnes is located between Lower Normandy and the Pays de la Loire, surrounded by beautiful and varied countryside. We have the forested Maine Normand to the north, the copse-dotted fields of the Perche to the east and the heather-topped hills of the Alpes Mancelles and the Mayenne to the west. To the south, the Sarthe departement in the Pays de la Loire is among the most varied in all France.

Loir Valley - not to be confused with the Loire

At the far south of the Sarthe, the Loir Valley would require a week to be explored properly. However, a short stay can include a visit to the imposing, stunningly postitioned château at Le Lude and the flower-decked town of La Flèche, which is also home to a superb modern zoo. Either or both of these would form the focal point of an excellent day trip to the southern Sarthe. The river Loir joins the river Loire at Angers.

River Sarthe

Closer to Ancinnes the valley of the Sarthe river is popular for boating trips. The Sarthe flows through Alençon before turning south to Le Mans and then heading seawards. You could easily spend a week exploring the valley by boat, taking a slow ride along its 100 or so miles of waterways. For those who want a river holiday, boats can be hired for the scenic cruise to Le Mans from the pleasure port of Sablé-sur-Sarthe, also home of a famous shortbread biscuit (better dunked in tea than in the river). For those who prefer to spend more time on land than on water, half- or full-day boat trips can be taken from a number of towns along the river.


Away from the water, there are many historical monuments to visit in the Sarthe. For example, the 12th-century Eglise Saint-Hilaire in the picturesque village of Asnières-sur-Vègre has some remarkably well-preserved frescoes dating back to the 16th century. Or visit the Abbaye Saint-Pierre in Solesmes and listen to the monks who appear at four o'clock every afternoon to sing Gregorian chants.


Just west of Le Mans, about 45 minutes from Ancinnes, you can visit the famous porcelain and pottery centre in Malicorne; the town's colourful ceramic and earthenware heritage dates from 1750, and you can stock up on some wonderful presents while you are there. There is also an excellent pottery maker just north of Ancinnes at Sees.

Le Mans

Le Mans, the capital of the Sarthe, is probably best known as the site of the annual 24-hour motor race, but otherwise it is often strangely overlooked as a tourist destination. It is well worth a day trip if you are staying in Ancinnes just to visit the magnificent Cathédrale Saint-Julien, a 135-metre long monument that took five centuries to build and which dominates the river below; then explore the Roman wall that encircles the Old Town and meander round Vieux Mans itself, a maze of quirky backstreets steepling over the southern bank of the Sarthe, lined with timber-framed houses with some ornately decorated fašades.

The town's Fine Arts Museum (Tessé), with its collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings, egyptology exhibition and extraordinary collection of ancient firearms, is another excellent visit; or if you are a car fan you can't fail to love the fabulous collection of vehicles at the Sarthe Car Museum (near the race circuit south of the town).

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Eglise St Pierre
et St Paul



Haute Sarthe