ABSOLUTE MUSTS AND THEY'RE NOT FAR AWAY!
Don’t hesitate to spend time exploring Alençon’s surrounding area. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the diversity of scenery, the host of small villages with a charm that beckons you to stroll and enjoy the wealth of heritage and the expanse of the nature parks and forests.
The ideal destination to get closer to nature!
Treat yourself to an escapade in the Ecouves Forest, the highest forest in Western France, located just north of Alençon. This vast forest of oak, pine, beech and Scots fir covers 15,000 hectares and offers some beautiful views over the surrounding woodland. Criss-crossed by footpaths and streams and dotted with memorial sites,
it makes great hiking terrain. You may even be lucky enough to come across some deer.
The Rochers du Vignage trail follows a rocky ridge and reveals fabulous views over the forest.
When you reach the Chêne-au-Verdier crossroads, you can admire an enormous sculpted sequoia.
At the Croix de Médavy crossroads you’ll see the "Valois" tank, hit by a Panzer during the fighting between the 2nd Armoured Division of General Leclerc and German troops in the Battle of Normandy which took place on 12th and 13th August 1944. Lower down, you’ll see the necropolis of Les Gateys, a military cemetery which is now a national necropolis where the bodies of 19 of the soldiers killed in those battles were laid to rest.
The combination of Latin crosses and steles engraved with the crescent of Islam or the star of David demonstrates
the unifying spirit of brotherhood that reigned among the 2nd Armoured Division. For a very special experience of togetherness in an outstanding natural environment, visit the Parc Animalier d’Écouves. This 18-hectare zoo nestling in the heart of the Ecouves Forest is one of a kind. It is home to more than 400 animals from across the world,
all roaming in semi-captivity. As you leave the forest, you’ll see the nearby Butte Chaumont appear on the horizon.
This hill of Armorican sandstone towers above the forest at a height of 378 metres.
This village is named after Mabile de Bellême, daughter of Guillaume II de Bellême. It is a typical little village built on the Sarthon river at the foot of the Butte Chaumont. We recommend you visit the church, one of the oldest in Orne,
the feudal mound currently under development, or the intriguing Cassine chapel. The waters of the Sarthon are home to crayfish and freshwater pearl mussels.
The nice church of Saint-Pierre in la Roche-Mabile
The butte Chaumont seen from La Roche-Mabile
The banks of the Sarthon within
the moule perlière is
In the 18th century, the presence of iron, clay and the River Sarthon led to the development of foundries and earthenware production. Walking through the village, you’ll see the magnificent period mansions that still remain from
the days of the foundries and pottery works.
The Romanesque church and its steeple embellished with console figures has also been very well preserved.
The roman church
The old forge
As you walk through Damigny, you’ll quickly notice that many of the houses have the same appearance.
These were the homes of textile workers, built of bare stone and, in some cases, covered in beautiful blooms.
Depending on their size, they each housed one or two looms on which hemp and flax was woven into canvas.
To the north of Damigny there was a prisoner-of-war camp (1939-1948) as well as a lovely chapel dedicated to
the Infant Jesus of Prague.
Textile workers old houses
CHÂTEAU DE CARROUGES
Along your way, don’t miss this elegant château of brick, granite and slate tiles whose colours blend perfectly
with the surrounding gardens. The small castle at the entrance is a superb example of Normandy’s Renaissance architecture. Bearing witness to many historic events, the site has hosted some famous guests including the likes of Louis XI and Catherine de' Medici. Now managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, it can be visited all year round.
©Christian Dupont, Club photo d'Alençon
©Christian Dupont, Club photo d'Alençon
LE CHÂTEAU DE MÉDAVY
Don’t hesitate to visit the Château de Médavy, to the north of Ecouves Forest, between Argentan and Sées.
Built in the early 18th century on the foundations of a former medieval fortress, this elegant abode features beautiful architecture of a classical style inspired by Mansart. The interior can be visited on a guided tour. This will also be your chance to wander freely in the grounds and the beautiful lime tree alleys on the banks of the Orne, and admire the works of art
on display in the chapel and the dovecote.
LA FORÊT DE PERSEIGNE
This forest is definitely worth taking the time to explore. There are some lovely walks to be had around the panoramic viewpoint, which is the highest point in the department of Sarthe. By car, motorcycle or bike, make sure you visit
the "Vallée d’Enfer". This valley’s rolling landscape makes it perfect for hiking, from Saint-Rigomer-des-Bois or
Les Ventes du Four to Le Puits de la Roche or Les Trois Ponts, to follow the Vallée du Gros Houx. Heritage features include the Perseigne Abbey, the church with a portico in Saint-Rigomer-des-Bois, the châteaux of Courtilloles and
Aillières-Beauvoir, and the Couesme Manor House.
The best way to reach Saint-Rigomer-des-Bois is via Champfleur, to see the Château de Courtilloles on the way and enjoy the magnificent views over Alençon and the Ecouves Forest. You’ll spot the Romanesque church and its bell as you arrive in Saint-Rigomer, as well as the washhouse lower down. Leaving the village on Rue Gaston Floquet, you can see and even visit Floquet’s house, open to the public on afternoons in July and August.
This well-known sculptor knew how to capture the world around him. On his death, in 2001, he bequeathed more than
8,000 of his works, some of which can be seen in the museums of Alençon, Le Mans and Granville.
Maison Gaston Floquet > www.gaston-floquet.org
CHÂTEAU DE COURTILLOLES
Built during the 18th century by Alexandre-Louis François de Courtilloles, a builder ennobled by Louis XV, this château on the edge of Perseigne Forest offers exceptional views over the Alençon plain. In 1994, the estate was acquired by the Gasztowtt family, who strive to preserve this valuable heritage. The chapel and dovecote have been restored and the grounds reworked "French-style" into a formal garden. The owners open their doors to visitors during the Heritage Days.
MANOIR DE COUESME
This 14th-16th-century mansion, the home of the Couesme family, has retained many of its original architectural features, including the mullions, vaulted windows, hearths and staircases. It was acquired in 2003 by some history and ancient stone enthusiasts who renovated the property between 2004 and 2015. The exterior can be visited unguided, or you can book a guided tour. The manor house also proposes guestrooms and has its own shop.
MANOIR DE LA JUISSELERIE
CHÂTEAU DE MONTIGNY