A scree slope on the banks of the river SartheA scree slope on the banks of the river Sarthe
©A scree slope on the banks of the river Sarthe|Ahmet Yildiz - PHS

The Alpes Mancelles

Listed site
A green setting to recharge your batteries!

The Alpes Mancelles is a natural region located between the Sarthe, Orne and Mayenne departments, marked by significant and varied relief reminiscent of mountain landscapes. Formed around 1.5 million years ago, they are the combined result of the uplift of a plateau and its excavation by the Sarthe river. Erosion of the rocks by wind, water and frost also contributed to the formation of the current site.

What makes it an exceptional site

Many large and preserved wooded areas

A large and varied landscape of scree slopes

A high-quality architectural and landscape heritage

A rich and preserved biodiversity

A remarkable site

Set up by the law of May 2nd, 1930, listed and classified sites are regulatory areas comprising “natural monuments and sites whose conservation or preservation is of general interest from an artistic, historical, scientific, legendary or picturesque point of view” (Article L341-1 of the Environment Code).

Classified by ministerial decree on January 10th, 1995, the Alpes Mancelles site covers an area of almost 1025 ha. Its originality: extended over 5 communes (Saint-Léonard-des-Bois, Moulins-le-Carbonnel, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Saint-Pierre-des-Nids and Gesvres), 3 departments (Sarthe, Orne, Mayenne) and 2 regions (Pays de la Loire, Normandie).

Why is it called

"Alpes Mancelles"?

The name “Alpes Mancelles” may seem presumptuous to some, but where does it come from?

Some say it was Saint-Céneri who first named these landscapes the “Alpes Mancelles”, as these rocky escarpments reminded him of the mountains of the Italian Alps from which he came.

Others, and this is the most likely origin, say that the locals were proud of their “little Alps”. With the town of Le Mans only a few dozen kilometers away, they naturally became known as the “Alpes Mancelles”!

This appellation became even more popular at the beginning of the 20th century, when Georges Durand developed tourism in the Alpes Mancelles and, in 1904, created the “Syndicat d’Initiatives des Alpes Mancelles”, one of the first in France.


the Alpes Mancelles

The landscapes of the Alpes Mancelles are made up of steep hillsides, incised valleys, forests, rocky outcrops and scree slopes unique to the region called “pierriers”. This particular environment is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, with the presence of remarkable habitats and species. The steep slopes are covered with moorland, composed mainly of birch, pine, broom and heather. The forests are home to both deciduous and thorny trees. All these mountainous landscapes have influenced the local identity, which is at the origin of traditional buildings still preserved and several monuments of historical interest.

Bolstered by these assets, the Alpes Mancelles are today a renowned tourist destination
and appreciated by holidaymakers for its natural and picturesque setting.