Le Mans station area at night

Exploring the Sarthe with Le Mans as my base

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I traveled straight on to Le Mans after arriving at CDG airport, Paris. It’s easy to get to, just an hour forty minutes by train from the airport station, with no changes, a nice, direct trip. Keeping things easy, I booked into Appart’Hotel next to the station. This is my base for exploring for one week, till I return to Paris to indulge myself with three concerts over five nights.

I’d never been to Le Mans, and wanted to know if it would be a nice city to be in easy reach of, in support of small-town life if I like the department of the Sarthe. I’ve been here three nights now, and I do like it. The train station made a good first impression: it has elevators! Yay! You may know from your own experience or from other posts of mine that that is not something you can count on in France. And, as is most often the case, the main bus station (outdoor zone, actually) is right beyond the train station, making connections easy. Both city tram lines stop at the train station, as do several local bus routes. France is behind on accessibility but very good in other aspects of public transportation.

On one of my day-trip early-morning departures, I noticed the frequency of trains to Paris. The board shows two fast trains and one with more commuter stops, In any case, I can see that Le Mans is actually a reasonable commute to Paris for a standard work day. Not that I’ll be working, but that it probably means higher property prices, relative to the rest of the region, but also is appealing just for the possibility of quick visits.

The river Sarthe runs through the town, adding to its attractiveness for me, certainly, but what I’m also appreciating is stylish architecture and an extensive, clean and appealing pedestrian zone. I so like European cities, for closing a nice part of the city center to cars. Also, in Europe, the most desirable area of a city has traditionally been the very center, with the periphery literally marginal, in quality as well as in geography; whereas in the U.S. our city centers have suffered much decline and were long abandoned by families opting for the suburbs. That trend is reversing in many towns, but European cities still have more life in the center and generally offer more possibilities to interact with others in the community.

So, I’m here to take a look at some towns in the Sarthe where I’ve seen possibly interesting, affordable properties on the market. France has many formerly important towns with declining population but valuable patrimony, which have been designated Petites Cités de Caractère, and those are the towns I’m now most interested in. I hope to get appointments to view some of the houses. Will be posting!

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