Top 9 things to do in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

Saint Ceneri le Gerei

Would you like to visit Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei in Normandy? Then check out the 9 must-see things to do in France’s most beautiful village!

One of the treasures of the Alpes Mancelles, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is classified as a « Petite Cité de Caractère ». A visit to Saint-Cénéri-le-Gérei will dazzle you with the village’s picturesque charm, considered one of our country’s treasures.

Nestled in the Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine, this village is also the ideal starting point for discovering the beautiful surrounding countryside. Would you like to discover this charming Normandy village? In this article, we’ll show you the 9 must-do things to do in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei during your stay!

1. Church of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

Eglise Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

Photo credit: Flickr – Kotomi_

Classified as a historical monument, this building is a must-see if you’re visiting Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei. Legend has it that soldiers attacking the church were themselves attacked by a swarm of bees. They then threw themselves from the rocky outcrop into the Sarthe.

A plaque still commemorates this hive: « The bees continue to protect the church ». This 11th-century Romanesque church is also famous for its monumental 14th-century paintings and its Way of the Cross. The latter is the work of local sculptor Malezieux.

2. Le Village

Village Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

Photo credit: Flickr – Kotomi_

The picturesque, unspoilt village of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is best discovered by strolling through its narrow streets. Take the time to soak up its unique atmosphere and admire its beautiful old houses. Some are beautifully decorated with ivy.

During your visit to Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, stop off near the river Sarthe. You’ll be able to admire the superb stone bridge that spans the river.

3. Saint-Céneri chapel and its miraculous fountain

Chapelle Saint Ceneri le Gerei

Photo credit: Flickr – David Merrett

If you come to visit Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, you won’t want to miss its chapel and miraculous fountain. The fountain, nestled in the greenery opposite the chapel, is said to have once gushed forth to quench the thirst of Saint Céneri and his disciple.

Legend has it that its water has curative properties. It is said to cure certain eye diseases. As for the chapel, it was built towards the end of the 14th century on the site where Saint Céneri is said to have built his shelter. Gothic in style, it blends perfectly into the surrounding bucolic landscape.

4. L’Auberge Moisy

Abbaye Soeur Moisy

Photo credit: Flickr – Kotomi_

Also known as the « Moisy sisters’ inn », this 18th-century building was a meeting place for many famous painters. At the end of the 19th century, they came to the Alpes Mancelles and the village for inspiration.

This must-see in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei reveals the relationship between painting and the landscapes of France’s most beautiful village, thanks to a playful and original scenography. Don’t miss it!

5. The Painters’ Inn

Auberge des Peintres

Credit Photo : Facebook – Auberge des Peintres

The Auberge Legangneux, now the Auberge des Peintres, was once another meeting place for the village’s painters. This 19th-century residence is now listed as a Monument Historique. Its facades and roofs, the ground-floor hall and the two rooms on the second floor all feature murals.

Today, it’s home to one of the best places to eat in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.

6. The last vestiges of the Château

Chateau Saint Ceneri Le Gerei

Photo credit: Wikipedia – René Dinkel

If you come to visit Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, you won’t want to miss the ruins of its fortified castle. Built in 1049 by Geoffroy de Mayenne, a vassal of the Count of Artois, it underwent numerous sieges and assaults, notably during the Hundred Years’ War. It was destroyed by the English in 1434.

7. Artists’ studios

Visiter Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei - Atelier Artiste

Photo Credit: Facebook – Amélie Romet peintre

A village of painters and artists, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is still home to numerous studios. Since 1988, the village’s artistic life has been dynamic, thanks to the efforts of local artists and associations. If you’re visiting Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, be sure to check out some of the local studios and galleries.

Every summer, you can also enjoy concerts organized as part of the Académie Festival de Saint-Céneri.

8. Mansonière Gardens

Visiter Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei - Les Jardins de la Mansonière

Photo Credit: Facebook – Les Jardins de la Mansonière

Nestling on one of the hills overlooking the Sarthe river, « Les Jardins de la Mansonière » is a charming atmospheric garden. Here, you’re invited to dream, reflect and enjoy. The gardens are divided into several floral areas.

Each one has a different atmosphere, tones and colors, thanks to a variety of flower and plant species. A must-see in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.

9. The Alpes Mancelles

Alpes Mancelles

Photo Credit: Facebook – Alpes Mancelles Tourisme

Part of the Normandie-Maine regional nature park, the Alpes Mancelles also take their name from the legends surrounding Saint Céneri and his disciple. The latter were originally fromItaly. At the outset, they promised not to stop walking until they saw a landscape reminiscent of an Alpine site.

This beautiful region is characterized by deep valleys, where the Sarthe and other tributaries flow peacefully.

Numerous high points and circuits offer the chance to discover beautiful landscapes. These include the Haut-Fourché and Narbonne crags, near Saint-Léonard des Bois. The Toyères cliff overlooking the village cirque is also a must-do in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei. The Alpes Mancelles can also be visited by mountain bike or canoe.

How do I get to Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei?

Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is located in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine. The nearest major towns are Alençon, less than 30 minutes away by car, and Le Mans, an hour’s drive away. To reach and visit Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, you’ll ideally need your own car or bicycle.

From Caen, Rennes or Paris, Intercités or Ter trains will take you easily to Alençon, sometimes passing through Le Mans. Once in Alençon, you can rent a car, take a cab or cycle to the Alpes Mancelles. Transport on demand (Altobus) runs on certain days from Alençon station to the village of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.

If you have a car, getting to Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is obviously easier:

  • From Le Mans, take the A28 towards La Nouvelle France/D310 at Coulombiers. Take exit 20, then follow the D310, D338 and D56 to the village.
  • From Paris, you can take the A11 to Le Mans or the N12 to Alençon. Take exit D1, then follow the D1 and D101 to Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.
  • From Rennes, take the N157, the A81 and then the N162 towards Mayenne. Then follow the D113, D121 and D144 towards Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.
  • From Caen, take the N158, then the A88 and A28 towards Lonrai (Alençon). Take the D1 exit, then follow the D1 and D101 to the village.

Where to stay in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei?

If you’re planning to visit Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, you’re bound to wonder where to stay. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of accommodation options in France’s most beautiful village. In particular, you can opt for a hotel, a charming gîte or some of the unusual accommodations in the Alpes Mancelles. To do so, don’t hesitate to use a hotel comparator.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Normandy