March 29, 2017

9 Reasons to Visit Le Mans France

Over the weekend my husband was watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. He’s the race fan, so while he was giving me a little education on the cars and watching the race, I set out to discover more about Le Mans itself.

 
Le Mans France is situated about 113 miles south west of Paris in the Pays de Loire region. Sitting along the banks of the Sarthe river, Le Mans dates back to Roman times which gives the city a vast and varied history including ties to the Plantagenet royal family. Geoffrey V. d ‘Anjou (Plantagenet) was born in Le Mans during 1113, married Mathilda, daughter of Henry I of England, in Le Mans and his tomb is here too. The marriage of Geoffrey and Mathilda gave us Henry II a future King of England.

Here are 9 reason to visit Le Mans!

1)  All car enthusiasts will be interested in visiting Le Mans. There are 2 race courses in the city but the most famous race is the 24 Hours of Le Mans which has been taking place since 1923. A visit to the Musee de l’Automobile is enjoyable for everyone.

 

Gallo Romaine Walls Le Mans France

Le Mans Gallo Romaine Walls by OldLion

2)  The fortified Old Town is surrounded by Gallo-Roman walls which were built during the 3rd century to defend the city and are some of the best in all of France. A stroll through the Old Town is delightful as you pass many cobbled streets and half timbered houses.

 

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France 080804 467 by juergen.mangelsdorf, on Flickr

3)  The Cathedral St. Julien rivals the magnificent cathedral in Chartres. Visitors are quite taken by the cathedral’s Gothic flying buttresses, Romanesque portal and stained glass windows. The oldest part of the cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The cathedral is also where Geoffrey married Mathilda and the resting place to the wife of Richard the Lionheart.

4)  The Sarthe River cuts a beautiful image through the city. Overlooking the river is Le Menhir, a monument to Celtic beliefs that has been looming over the town for 5,000 years.

 

Palais des Comtes du Maine Le Mans France

Palais des Comtes du Maine and brithplace of henry II Le Mans by Benchaum

5)  Today the city hall is in the Palais des Comtes du Maine which is the birthplace of Henry II.

6)  The Tunnel was built in the 19th century to make access to Le Mans easier but it also has some interesting lighting and landscaping along with a monument dedicated to Wilbur Wright.

7)  Besides the Roman walls, there are other items attesting to Le Mans’ Roman heritage including the Crypte Archeologique des Thermes Romains. In other words, remains of the Roman baths have been discovered near the river and are open to visitors.

 

Abbatiale de l'Epau near Le Mans France

Abbatiale de l'Epau by Benchaum

8)  Just at the edge of town is the impressive Cistercian Abbey of l’Epau. Founded by the wife of Richard the Lionheart, the medieval Abbey is situated along the Huisne River and offers a sanctuary for those seeking peace and calm

9)  Le Mans is home to many museums. Museums full of natural history, Automobile history, aquariums, Egyptian artifact and art. But to learn more about Le Mans and its history from Roman times through the 15th century, don’t miss the Museum of Archaeology and History of Mans on Plantagenet Square where you’ll be able to explore the vast history of the city dating all the way back to 50 BC and its Roman settlement.

 

Old Town Le Mans France

Le Mans, France by Sue Elias, on Flickr

Looks like there’s much more to Le Mans than cars! No wonder it has also been the site of many movies including Cyrano de Bergerac, Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers.

Next time I’m in the area I’ll be stopping by,

Will You?

Discovering the Cultural Heritage of Benidorm

Beaches seem to be king in Benidorm Spain but the lovely seaside city has a cultural side too! This guest post by Jeni of Co-op travel introduces some of the cultural spots to explore in Benidrom!

There’s a lot more to Benidorm than what the average tourist might think. A small village as little as fifty years ago, the Spanish town has grown to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and with good reason.

Some might wrongly believe that it only caters to sunbathers and night life seekers, but there’s another side of Benidorm that visitors can take full advantage of, including a rich cultural heritage, excellent scenic spots and a vast range of events. Below are some of the best parts of the town that are often overlooked.

Benidorm Spain

Benidorm 060 by leumas_1974, on Flickr

The museums of Benidorm are frequently neglected by visiting holidaymakers, but there are several that provide a fascinating insight into its history. The first to consider is the House Museum, or Casa Museo de Benidorm – the principal art gallery of the coastal town. Admission is free, and in it you will find numerous collections of sculptures and paintings. Different exhibitions are also frequently held, so be sure to find out what visiting exhibitions are available when you visit.

Other museums to look into include the Agricultural Museum, or Museo de Agricola. Open every day, it has on display a wide range of farming equipment that would have been used in Benidorm before it became the holiday resort that it is today. Lastly, the Maritime Cultural Centre, or Centro Cultural Maritimo, can be found in a charming small house that boasts a great exhibition of nautical pieces. Boats, fishing equipment and photos make up just some of what it has on display and give visitors an idea of what would have once been the main source of income for locals. To find the best located places to stay to see Benidorm’s museums, going to Co-op travel’s website can prove extremely useful. In doing so, you’ll also be sure to find a good discounted price.

Beautiful Coastline of Benidorm Spain

Benidorm Spain from Wikimedia

As well as its museums, there are also numerous cultural spots you can visit to get a feel of Benidorm’s history. One of the best is located in the Sierra Helada Mountains, a mountain range that can be found right next to Benidorm and separates it from the neighboring town of Albir. It’s there that you can find the watchtowers of Seguro. The towers were used during the 16th Century to scan the seas for raiding pirates, and visitors can now climb them to gain a unique view over the ocean and the land surrounding Benidorm.

 

Would you visit Benidorm for its beaches or cultural attractions?

To Market, To Market

Farmers markets that is!


There are a lot of reasons I love summer but one of the best things (in my humble opinion) is the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables. And the best place to buy these goodies is at a Farmers Market.

With Summer officially beginning next week, its time to get out and spend some time wandering a local Farmers Market. . .  no matter where you are.

 

There is not a better place to enjoy a Farmers Market than in Europe!


The longer days and warmer weather of summer combine to produce a feast for your belly and eyes!  It seems each town in Europe has their own Farmers Market offering up a beautiful array of colorful fruits,

Farmers Market Bamberg Germany Fruits

Fruits in Bamberg Germany Farmers Market

Delicious vegetables,

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Vegetables

Vegetables at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

even some I’m not familiar with!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Carrots

Who knows what the long red vegetables are??

Plus a rainbow of colors from vibrant flowers!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Flowers

Colorful Flowers at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a wonderful place to grab some snacks or items for a picnic lunch plus strolling the market is a great way to get out with the locals!

 

Do you visit Farmers Markets in Europe?

 

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Remembering World War I

Last week we remembered D-Day and the troops who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation .  The D-Day beaches in Normandy France are a huge tourist draw but it seems as if time has forgotten those soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.

There are not many sights left in Europe that remind us of the First World War but in Eastern France travelers can learn about the war and remember those who gave their lives during heated battles taking place from 1914 to 1918.

Known as the “Western Front” this region is full of beautiful rivers, Gothic cathedrals and picturesque villages but it is also dotted with grim reminders of the devastation that took place here during World War I.

Battelfield Verdun France

1916 Battelfield of Verdun still retains traces of shellimpacts from wikimedia

Besides the craters and trenches that are still visible, the area is home to many cemeteries, museums and memorials that will help you appreciate the extent of battles that took place in the area.

Some of the fiercest fighting occurred near Verdun and the Somme Region of France and today there are many museums and memorials honoring those that served.

Verdun France

The Battle of Verdun lasted 300 days and left 300,000 dead. The Memorial de Verdun was opened in 1967 to remember French and German soldiers as well as civilian citizens lost during the siege. The museum displays military armaments, vehicles, uniforms and equipment and is built on the site of Fleury, a village that was wiped out during fighting.

Memorial de Verdun France

Memorial de Verdun by Wolfgang Staudt

Also in the area are Fort Douaumont, which was a strategic command post and gives a real sense of the conditions the soldiers endured, and Fort Vaux which includes a memorial to the carrier pigeons used during the war.

Fort Douaumont Ossuary France WWI Battle site

Douaumont Ossuary by Gordon T Lawson, on Flickr

The French National Cemetery commemorates the 130,000 unknown French and German soldiers killed at Verdun while the Douaumont Ossuary holds the bones of these unknown soldiers. This moving location will definitely leave you thinking about the war that left so many dead or wounded. Climbing the bell tower overlooking the cemetery with its rows of white crosses or visiting the Trench of Bayonets, where an entire company was buried alive, brings home the horrors of war.

Somme France

The Somme region was the site of one of the bloodiest battles on the Western Front. Over 620,000 French and British soldiers died here along with over 600,000 German soldiers. The remains of the dead were not transported back to their countries which is why the area has 280 plus graveyards and memorials.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing France

Thiepval Memorial to the missing by Chris Hartford from London, UK

The Thiepval Memorial honors the missing and is a beautiful red brick arched structure. This is “the largest British battle memorial in the world” and the names of 72,000 missing soldiers are engraved on the walls. Occasionally, the remains of a soldier are found in one of the former battlefields.  If the remains are somehow identified, the name is then removed from the list of the missing and the soldier is given a full military burial.

Entrance to Museum of the Great War Peronne France

Entrance to Museum of the Great War at Peronne by mifl68, on Flickr

Peronne is a lovely French town very near many of the battle sites in the Somme. It is also home to the Museum of the Great War. Located in a castle, this museum strives to show the common suffering of not only the soldiers but the impact war has on the citizens.

This portion of France is a must see to any history and/or war enthusiast. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I and the region will host many ceremonies and events commemorating those that served.

 

Do you visit battle sites while traveling?