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Infos pratiques: Inventaire
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From the 9th century, the town developed around a castle near the banks of the Sarthe. 
Protecting Normandy’s southern boundary with the Maine region, it became increasingly 
important as the Dukes of Alençon reached the height of their glory in the 16th century. 
From this golden past of prosperity, the town has retained a heritage like no other in Normandy... 
Today, the town of Alençon is classified as a "Remarkable Heritage Site".



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This is THE historic part of the town that just has to be explored! Alençon’s oldest dwellings are 
to be found here. This picturesque neighbourhood still has its narrow streets, its hidden cobblestone courtyards and its timber-frame and granite houses. Above some of the doorways you can see the escutcheons that once displayed the coats of arms of the families who lived inside. Beaten out with a hammer or painted on, these coats of
arms have since disappeared. Stop at no. 11 Rue des Granges and no. 123 Grande Rue where 
the façade features a key carved into the wood by a locksmith.



The first castle was built in timber by the lords of Bellême during the 11th century.

Then in the 12th century, Henry I, or Henry Beauclerc, son of William the Conqueror, ordered 
the building of an enormous square-shaped keep, thus strengthening the town’s strategic position. 
In the 14th century, Pierre II of Alençon enlarged the structure to make it one of the largest and most important castles in Normandy. Henry IV had it demolished in the 16th century. Today all that remains of this remarkable building is the entrance wing with its majestic crenelated towers, the abode and the crowned tower. 
The sight of these impressive remains helps you picture the castle as it was in the days of the Dukes of Alençon.

INSOLITE : Out of the ordinary in 1804 the castle became a prison.

It was shut down in 2010, then in 2016 the castle was acquired by the municipality for renovation.

In 2019, the Simone Veil park was created in what had been the prison yards.


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The basilica has proudly towered above the heart of the town for more than six centuries.

The building of this harmonious monument of Gothic style began during the Hundred Years’ War.

Its visitors are greeted by the intricate stone lace of its superbly extravagant triple Gothic porch.

This is one of Normandy’s most beautiful church porches! Inside, you can admire the nave, the lovely stained-glass windows and the recently-restored organ. Listen carefully... every quarter-hour, the bells ring out from the clock tower to the tune of the Christian hymn "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth".


What’s the difference between a Church and a Basilica? Cathedral, Basilica, Chapel, Abbatial Church, Priory Church, Collegiate Church... these are all places of worship. But a Basilica is a very special church, because it can only achieve this status by decision of the Pope and if it is built above the tomb of a Saint, contains the relics of a Saint, and/or is a pilgrimage venue as is the case here.


This beautiful 17th-century building close to the Fine Arts and Lace museum never goes unnoticed.

Its distinctive features are the so-called imperial roof crowned by a small bell tower and a pretty weathercock that spins in the wind. Embellished with magnificent oak woodwork, the reading room features a wealth of written heritage that is unique in Normandy, with 137 medieval manuscripts and 26 incunabula works.

But another valuable treasure is also kept here: the original, uncensored edition of Charles Baudelaire’s 
"The Flowers of Evil", published in 1857 by Alençon-born Auguste Poulet-Malassis...


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©M.A. Thierry, Normandie Tourisme

This immense 15th-century dwelling bears the name of its former owner, François d’Ozé, who added a new wing and a small tower in 1530. They say Henry IV once stayed here before he was king... In 1903, the building was saved from demolition in the nick of time when the Société Historique et Archéologique de l’Orne succeeded in getting it listed as a protected historical monument – phew! Today, it is occupied by the fortunate staff of the Tourist Office.

Before you leave, take the time to wander for a while in the picturesque gardens of the enclosure.


In 1675, this sumptuous private mansion, with its elegant façade of brick and stone, was acquired 
by Elisabeth of Orléans, granddaughter of Henry IV and widow of the Duke of Guise and Alençon.

Built in Louis XIII style, this is one of the most beautiful prefectures in France!



Unique in France, the Halle au Blé is a monument of appealing elegance that makes the people of Alençon very proud! Topped with a majestic glass dome, this impressive circular building opened as a corn exchange in 1812 and was nicknamed "crinoline" by the local women. It is now a venue for temporary exhibitions and live shows.


©M.A. Thierry, Normandie Tourisme

Located on Place Foch, this building with its elegant rounded façade was built in 1783 on the site of a former

part of the Château des Ducs. The central building is surmounted by a small bell tower and, inside,

the main staircase has a beautiful wrought iron banister.

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