Sarthe Geography and Natural Beauty
The Upper Sarthe Valley in the north west of the department cuts its way through the Alpes Mancelles in a rocky landscape of heath and woodland where canoeing and mountain biking are popular.
The temperate valley which winds its way from Le Mans towards Angers in Main-et-Loire is a wonderful area for all kinds of river tourism.
Fish for tench, carp, trout and pike in the Rivers Sarthe, Vegre and Gee and the managed lakes.
Electric and motor boats are available at Malicorne on the Sarthe for a leisurely glide past banks dotted with little villages and water mills. Information on pleasure boat trips, canoe/kayak hire, and cycle routes along the river and surrounding countryside can be found at the local Tourist Office, tel: (00 33) 2 43 94 74 45.
Enjoy the public gardens, chateau and medieval half-timbered houses of the valley’s main port, Sable-sur-Sarthe, in the heart of the valley. Take a boat from Sarthe’s National Dock and meander through flower-decked locks towards Le Mans and look for kingfishers and herons, tel: (00 33) 2 43 95 14 42.
Walkers are well catered for. Find details of 14 circular routes at a variety of levels in local Tourist Offices and a French Topo Guide gives walks taking in 10 pretty villages in the Sarthe Valley.
The River Loire (Little Loire) flows into the larger River Loire and its valley. Officially recognised as an area of art and history, the Little Loire contains many echoes of the more famous landscape.
Green ways created from old railway tracks along the valley make ideal routes for those with bicycles to discover the woods and vineyards of this beautiful area. The Loire Valley has many attractive churches, castles and gardens to enjoy en route.
Visit Lude where the gardens of a Renaissance style chateau descend to the Loire and spectacular summer Son et Lumiere includes fireworks reflected in the water. The sixteenth century chateau at Bazouges-sur-Loir has a feudal mill and the working Rotrou mill at Vaas is also a wheat to flour museum.
Floral La Fleche has wonderful ancient buildings and gardens and a famous zoo. See potters and glass-blowers at work in Ponce-sur-le-Loire which is also home to one of the region’s lesser known chateaux.
Proof that people have been drawn to the Loire Valley for hundreds of years can be found in the troglodyte caves at Troo and Montoire further down the river in Loire-et-Cher.