Sarthe Activities and Things To Do on Holiday
Walking, GR36 – Alpes Mancelles
The GR36 long distance walking trail connects Ouistreham on the coast of Normandy with Bourg-Madame on the Spanish border.
These GR trails (sentiers de grande randonnee) are fully signposted with red and white markers.
From Caen the GR36 passes through medieval Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, close to Le Mans, and Le Lude (where it crosses the GR35) on the way to Saumur crossing part of the Regional Nature Park of Normandy-Maine.
Detour onto the GR36A for a circular tour of the Alpes Mancelles in north west Sarthe. The River Sarthe cuts rocky gorges through the hills which rise between 140 - 220m. Walk a leafy landscape of little woods and orchards bordered by hedges, and Persigne Forest. Discover beautiful villages like Saint-le-Ceneri Gerei and Saint-Leonard-des-Bois. Close by is a lovely viewpoint over the sadly named Valley of Misery - strewn with boulders but alive with colour when the brooms and heather are in bloom.
Le Mans 24 Hour Race and Sarthe Car Museum
Legendary 24 Hour sports car race testing the skill and endurance of both driver and car, held first in 1923, where cars can reach speeds of over 300km/h. Arrive before race day to see cars practising on the tracks and parade of drivers and cars through the streets of Le Mans.
Enthusiasts will enjoy the boutiques and merchandising outlets in the ‘village’ set up during the race period where activities extend into the night although entry to actual racetrack events can be expensive.
There's plenty here to interest car loving tourists even when the celebrated 24 hour event is not taking place. In fact, numerous other events and races take place on the Circuit de la Sarthe track, and when it’s not in use for these, it reverts back to being a public road. So you can enjoy your own drive along this historic stretch of tarmac absolutely free of charge.
Le Mans also has a magnificent car museum featuring everything from an 1885 prototype steam driven dog cart, to a wide variety of legendary names such as Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls-Royce. Twelve actual 24 Hour race winners are on display and there’s a simulated high-speed track.
The beautiful countryside of Sarthe between Normandy and the Loire Valley offers excellent golfing with a range of off-course activities, just over 2 hours by motorway from Caen’s ferry port of Ouistreham.
Golf des 24 Heures, Le Mans
Get to the heart of things at Golf des 24 Heures, Le Mans. 18 hole, 71p/5740m, wooded course located in the middle of the famous 24 hour race circuit close to the Mulsanne turn. Playable all year thanks to sandy soil and mown heather rough. Dogs on leads welcome. Facilities include pro shop, buggies, trolleys and club house with restaurant. Tel: (00 33) 2 43 42 00 36.
Le Mansgolfier-Golf Club de Sarge, nr Le Mans
If your holiday has inspired you to try the game this English owned club 10 minutes from Le Mans welcomes visiting players of all levels all year. Le Mansgolfier-Golf FFG recognised golf school takes individuals and groups including 8 - 16 year olds. There are putting greens, 3 hole compact course and driving range. The 18 hole 72p/6018m course was created from farmland. Equipment can all be hired and club house facilities include a bar and restaurant. Tel: (00 33) 2 43 76 25 07.
Golf de Sable-Solesmes, Sable-sur-Sarthe
A well maintained 27 hole, complex which threads its way between the Pince Forest and banks of the River Sarthe. The three 9 hole courses can be interlinked so you can combine any 2 to provide variety. La Foret and La Riviere, 72p/6189m are dominated by water holes, whereas La Cascade 36p/3069m is more rugged, with grass as well as sandy bunkers. Facilities include pro shop, club cart and trolley hire, putting green and restaurant.
If you’re feeling energetic, make for this beautiful man-made lake 5 minutes from the centre of Sille-le-Guillaume. The Watersports Centre offers a variety of pursuits including canoeing, kayaking, catamarans and orienteering led by trained group leaders. Tel: (00 33) 2 43 220 10 36. To hire boats, pedalos and wacky bicycles, tel: (00 33) 2 43 20 11 04.
Away from the water, enjoy miniature golf, pony riding and tennis. Forest trees give welcome shade to 1km of supervised beaches in July and August and you can either walk or take a little train around the lake shores.
Learn more of the fauna and flora of the lake and surrounding forest from a guided boat tour and Topo Guides from the local Tourist Office describe rambling trails.
Les Ateliers du Septant
Treetop trail and maze at La Fleche. Open all year Tues - Sat. Supervised adventure camp in July and August with different activities each day. Tel: (00 33) 2 43 45 54 42 for more details.