This new route follows the valley of the river Sarthe, linking the Loire with the popular Veloscenic route at Alençon. It’s on easy quiet lanes with a few stretches of rail trails, unpaved but with a good firm surface.
Highlights include the well preserved towns of La Flèche and Baugé (linked by a traffic-free trail), and although Le Mans may internationally only be known for its motorsport, the old quarter and cathedral are top-tier. This isn’t a route that stays close to the riverside in the way that the Loire à Vélo does, but nonetheless you’ll see a lot of the Sarthe.
Above the medieval town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe you enter into the Alpes Mancelles. It’s the Swiss vistas rather than the spot heights that deserve the ‘Alps’ soubriquet, though there are one or two sharp climbs! Don’t miss the startling rocky hillside at Saint Léonard (the ominously named Vallée di Misère…) and the delightful promontory village of Saint Céneri, surely one of the prettiest in northern France.
The ever excellent Freewheeling France site has an enjoyable travelogue of a ride along this route which will give you more of a flavour.
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