In 1982 an association named “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” was created to increase tourism in the French countryside. A village must have some specific cultural or historical significance in order to be considered for this distinction. Today, there are well over 100 of these villages in France, including six in Normandie. We visited one last week called Saint Céneri le Gérei, which is situated next to the Sarthe River.
The village has an interesting history including a story of an Italian monk who settled here after receiving a miracle. It emerged as an artists’ community beginning in the mid 1800s, and there are many art studios in the area.
It was a beautiful day and we even had lunch outside in the sunshine.
After a delicious lunch, we strolled through the village and enjoyed the beauty of the area.
Eglise de Saint Céneri is an interesting place to visit. The building was completed in 1125 and stands above the river on a steep hillside.
Saint Céneri le Gérei is about an hour from our home and we had a bit of excitement on our way back. The traffic was backed up in one little town, so after waiting a few minutes, we turned around to take another route. About fifteen minutes later, we came to a road block. We backed into a driveway to turn around, but the activity caught our attention, so we sat there for a few minutes waiting to find out what was going on.
There was a gendarme there and other people lined up, some sitting in camp chairs. Soon some support cars came through followed by a large group of bikers who flew past. During this time, cars came up to the road block, exchanged a few words with the gendarme, turned around and left. We were completely off the road and in a good spot to view the activity. Well, one young woman pulled up onto the sidewalk, talked to the gendarme and then started quickly backing up, while still on the sidewalk, heading straight for us! theTravelsketcher immediately hit the horn, but she still managed to hit us. Luckily, the damage was minimal, but she didn’t speak any English, and in the stress of the moment, our French wasn’t flowing very well.
The gendarme casually walked over, looked at the situation, and told us to complete some paperwork that came with our rental car, and then went back to the roadblock, leaving us to complete the process on our own. Thankfully, we have a contract with a company called Renestance. They provide assistance for people moving to France. theTravelsketcher quickly got on the phone with our consultant, and she walked us through the entire process. She even talked to the young woman (a health care worker with an elderly man in her car). I picked up from her conversation with Sarah (our consultant) that she was on her way to work and the elderly man had an appointment that they were late for. She apologized profusely, and after the paperwork was completed, we were on our way again. Whew!
I have written about other villages with this distinction, including:
We hope to visit even more of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” during our time here.
Wishing you grand and accident free adventures,