©Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei|Ahmet Yildiz - PHS


Between the departments of Mayenne, Orne and Sarthe

Located at the junction of three departments and two regions, the beauty of this village has attracted many artists since the 19th century.

One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages


At the heart of the Alpes Mancelles listed site, between river and rock, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei draws its charm from its houses built of local stone – roussard sandstone – perched on the cliffs and along the Sarthe river. The village owes its origins to a hermit, Céneri, who founded a monastery in the 7th century.

The present-day church built on the rocky spur replaced the one built by the founder. It boasts remarkable paintings, the oldest of which may date back to the 12th century. Throughout the Middle Ages, the village’s geographical location, on the border between Maine and Normandy regions, made it a highly coveted site.

Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei has been awarded “Plus Beaux Villages de France®” and “Petite Cité de Caractère®” labels.

A village of artists


In the 19th century, the invention of the paint tube revolutionized the history of painting. Henceforth, painters would be able to “go out” and “invent” a new style: painting from the motif. Many painters stayed at Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei and created the Saint-Céneri School. In the Auberge des Soeurs Moisy, now transformed into a museum, relive this key period in the village’s history.

A “Saint-Céneri sur le motif” walking trail, set up by the Normandie Maine Regional Nature Park, will take you to the places so beloved by these artists.

Not to be missed

the Mansonière Gardens

Gardens takes an “s” here simply because the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Manson, have conceived it as a series of gardens, each with its own specificities, charms, species and style, sometimes French, sometimes English… These gardens tell the story of their owners’ lives and passions along the paths.


in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

The legend of

Saint Céneri


Saint Céneri was born in Italy in the 7th century. He left his homeland accompanied by his brother, Cénéré, with the aim of evangelizing Gaul. His journey took him to the Alpes Mancelles, where he settled for good, finding serenity and calm. His life was marked by many miracles.

In the chapel, you’ll be amazed by the statue of the Saint, whose base is covered with needles. Legend says that young girls wishing to get married come and prick a needle; if the needle remains planted, their wish will be granted within the year.