We randomly ended up visiting Alencon during our last trip to France. What took us there? It was conveniently located between Brittany and Paris, hence between our two families. But there are many more reasons why you should consider visiting Alencon.
Is Alencon worth visiting?
Not necessarily. If you’re only in France for a limited time, Alencon is not worth visiting. I admit there are better towns to explore. Rouen, Reims, Dijon or the Loire Valley, for example, are closer to Paris or easier to access (see a few ideas of day trips from Paris by train for inspiration). But if you’re looking for a new place to explore for a weekend or for a break as you’re driving west, then Alencon could be a fantastic option!
Here’s why you should visit Alencon:
1. Alencon is only 200km away from Paris
It takes 2.5hrs to drive the 200km from Paris to Alencon. It’s a reasonable distance for a weekend. You’ll mostly take the N12, the national road which is a nicer drive than the motorway.
2. Alencon has a stunning historical town centre
You’ll find a mix of Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance architecture as you walk around town.
The Basilica has original touches from English influences. It was built during the Hundred Years War when Alencon was occupied by the English.
But you can go back in time even further in Alencon. The Maison d’Ozé, now transformed into a tourist office, was built in the 1450s. The Stall House (10 rue Porte de la Barre) is a 15th-century home. A bit further, rue de la Chaussée, parts of a castle founded in the 1100s remain.
3. You can stay somewhere special
Because Alencon is not in a popular
If you’re after a remarkable architecture or a romantic getaway, you can stay in a castle from the 16th century (Chateau de Villiers*), 17th century (Chateau de Saint Paterne*), 18th century (Chateau de Sarceaux*) or 19th century (Château des Requêtes*).
Or if you’re a bigger group, you can rent a full cottage like this one in
4. Alencon made it to the UNESCO list
Alencon lace-making craft expertise started in the 17th century when Colbert, Louis XIV’s dynamic minister for enterprise, opened a factory there. He brought specialists from Venice, the only producer at that time. Alencon’s lacemakers adapted the Venitian style to create their own. The French court would use lace from Alencon a lot until the Revolution.
The unusual craftsmanship of the lace was added to the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
The Museum of Fine Arts and Lace is the best place to admire fine pieces of lace-making and learn more about its history.
5. The nearby village Saint Ceneri le Guerei is one of the most beautiful villages in France
Saint Ceneri le Guerei is a lovely village. At the end of the 19th century, it was home to a school of impressionist painters. Its chapel from the
6. You’ll support regional tourism
Alencon isn’t in the list of France’s most visited places. Going off the beaten path can be an excellent way to support the economy of a region. We avoided the supermarkets and bought delicious local products at the small shops in the town
7. There are many nature-based activities nearby
You don’t need to go far to find green space in Alencon. In town, the Parc des Promenades hosts a small menagerie with goats, rabbits
8. There are delicious local products to try
Normandy is famous for its cider. It’s been brewed in the region for more than 2,000 years. It has a special taste and, although it’s not my favourite, it’s worth tasting. I much preferred the beers.
Camembert is a town 70km north of Alencon. It can make an excellent trip to taste and learn more about the worldwide famous cheese. We stayed closer to Alencon and visited a goat farm (Les
We didn’t get the opportunity to try the local dish Teurgoule. Locals describe it as a rice sweet pudding.
9. It’s the birthplace of Sainte Therese
Catholics may be interested in visiting the house where Sainte Therese was born (rue Saint Blaise). It’s been kept as a shrine. Sainte Therese was baptised in the Basilica.
10. It may have the best climate in Normandy
Alencon is away from the coast and