The food scene in Le Mans catches most people out – in a good way! If you thought Le Mans was a town you go to just to watch a world-famous race, think again. There’s lots to see and do here and you might be suprised to learn it has one of the prettiest medieval towns in France.
But back to food.
Here are some of our favourite restaurants in Le Mans and a taster of what you’ll find there to whet your appetite…
Wine and dine in Le Mans
Don’t miss the chance to taste Jasnières wine while you’re in Le Mans, it’s rarely seen outside the local area and is absolutely delicious. It’s not made in huge quantities and the locals keep most of it to themselves, so stock up at the 15th century Cave de Pedro – a feast for the senses in the Pont-Lieu district of the old town. Wine master Pedro has a brilliantly stocked shop, not just wine but local specialities too. Book in advance for a wine tasting – he speaks English and if you love wine, you’re in for a serious treat here. Book via Facebook at Cave de Pedro.
Where to take a pit stop in Le Mans!
Wine and Dine: Auberge de Bagatelle. This Michelin starred restaurant serves food that looks amazing and tastes even better. Located in an old inn that’s been exquisitely renovated, Chef Jean-Sébastien Monné creates dishes that you don’t forget in a hurry. The lunch “Pleasure” menu is incredibly good value at just 32 Euros for 2 courses, 38 Euros for 3 courses (2019) – seriously, you don’t want to miss a course – each one is mouth-watering delicious. Push the boat out with the 6 course tasting menu – utterly delectable. Details: www.aubergedebagatelle.fr
Locals love: Café du Jet d’Eau, next to the Cathedral at the base of the Escalier du Jet d’Eau. Locals were devastated when this much loved local cafe closed for a short while and when it was reopened in 2015, there was celebration! It’s the perfect place to relax for market shoppers and watching the world go by. A plate of oysters, tangy cheeses, crunchy baguette and classic French dishes in a bustling and welcoming atmosphere. Great for a coffee stop, aperitifs, lunch and dinner!
Fun and friendly: La Ciboulette (14 rue Vielle-Porte) is charming, authentic and fun. The seasonal menu is popular with the locals.
Luscious lunch stop: Head to the Domaine de l’Epau around 10km from the centre of town (you can go via tram). Enjoy the picturesque countryside and then indulge in a delicious lunch at restaurant Le Verger. There’s a firm emphasis on organic and seasonal here.
Snack-attack: For something a bit different, the 13th century Royal Abbey of Epau (next door to the Domaine de l’Epau) really fits the bill. Great for a tour of the monumental abbey and beautiful grounds just a few minutes from Le Mans town centre (easy to reach by tram). And, Sylvie in the cafe makes exceedingly good cakes. Sitting outside in the sunshine, enjoying a light lunch, cake, coffee and drinking in the sight of this ancient building and its grounds = fantastic.
Looking for a drink after dark? Head to Le Verre Tige bistro and brewery in the medieval old district. Lovely friendly staff are happy to advise on wine and dishes. Sit on the terrace on a fine evening or stay cosy inside in this ancient building when it’s chily. (48, Grande-Rue).
Food specialities of Le Mans
Indulge your sweet tooth at biscuit shop La Sablésienne (6 Rue de la Perle). Perfect for a souvenir, if they make it home in one piece!
Chocolate heaven: Bellanger offer cooking lessons and the most irresistible chocolates and sweet treats (2 rue de l’Etoille).
Cake my day: Takayanagi has the locals queuing up. Japanese Chef Takayanagi says: “Cakes are simple, but complex; I create French cakes but with Japanese influences”. For instance in this shop you can get a Paris-Tokyo, rather than a Paris-Brest. They serve a traditional Japanese lunch here so, head to the little shop in rue du Tertre for your Japanese-French fix.
Le Mans Market
If you’re a market fan you won’t be disappointed when you visit Le Mans. There are several markets from Tuesday to Sunday (see the tourist office website below for details). One of the best is at Place du Jet d’Eau (Wenesday, Friday, Sunday) in front of the huge Cathedral. Don’t miss the mushroom man, his champignons are a legend here. Fabulous vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, fish, Plantagenet honey – a vibrant atmosphere and a picturesque setting.
In and around Le Mans
What to see and do in Le Mans – it really isn’t a town you should race through.
Le Mans Motor Museum
Sound and Light Show – Nuits Chimieres Le Mans
La Fleche, not far from Le Mans is a historic little town with a fabulous market
The Chateau de Lude, an amazing time warp that’s still lived in…
Baugé – the most charming little French town that houses an incredible secret – one of the most well preserved apothecaries in France!
The Forest of Bercé – ancient woodlands that once belonged to the Sun King
The wine route of the Loir – little known, off the beaten track – the most delicious wine that you won’t find anywhere else…
How to get about in Le Mans
The tram system is efficient and cheap 1,50 € single ticket (valid for 1 hour); 4,20 € day pass (valid for 24 hours) – both are also valid on the bus network.
How to get to Le Mans
With trains taking around an hour from Paris It’s an easy day trip to Le Mans.
Where to stay in Le Mans
Hotel Concordia which is very reasonably priced.
Le Doyenné: in what has to be one of the best locations right next to the Cathedral in an ancient house.
Tourist office Le Mans, 16 Rue de l’Étoile www.lemans-tourisme.com; more on things to do in France at uk.france.fr