Alencon, Orne department capital, France, is a true striking destination that is so underrated. In Alencon there is no shortage of nature and history, making it a true rural paradise, a retreat that is sure to be among the best in the world for a lot of people.
Since you are here, you are most likely interested in the region and you want to see what can be visited. All the Alencon attractions below are stunning and have to be considered.
If there is one thing that you automatically think about when you talk about Alencon, it is lacemaking. The tradition of lacemaking in the area is as old as 1665. This was when Colbert, minister of Louis XIV, started working to transform Alencon into the country’s lacemaking capital.
A royal workshop was set up in town. Highly skilled masters were hired to teach the locals and a unique lacemaking style quickly appeared. This is what led it to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in the year 2010. 10 stages are needed to create a pattern. This means the craftsmen that use the technique work over 15 hours for one piece that is just the size of a regular postage stamp.
As expected, there is a large lace collection in town and a lot of information is available through the Musee des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle.
A Rich History
Alencon’s history is more impressive than expected. It was Jean de Valois, Duke of Alencon’s seat. He is known as bean one of Joan of Arc’s comrade-in-arms. Alencon also has a place in history as the very first town that was freed by the army of General Leclerc in 1944, on August 12.
A Saint Was Born In Alencon
Therese de Lisieux, full name Sainte-Therese de L’Enfant Jesus, was born in Alencon. She was a nun (Carmelite) that was canonized in the year 1925.
What is interesting is that Therese was not the only saint in the family. Parents Zelie and Louis Martin were also sainted, but in the year 2015. They hold a special place in history as they are the very first spouses that were canonized. The house they owned is still standing and offers a glimpse into their lives.
The Notre-Dame Basilica
This beautiful Gothic building has a clear English twist that appeared because of the Hundred Years War. The above-mentioned Therese de Lisieux ended up baptized there. In the past, this was a really small parish church, a humble establishment. Pope Benedict XVI elevated its status to basilica in the year 2009.
Alencon features around 33 hectares of gardens, parks and floral border strips. These areas are a true green, peaceful oasis. It is perfect for gardeners and flaneurs that are looking for inspiration.
A Timeless Charm
Alencon has a wonderful old charm. This is especially the case in the Saint-Leonard Quarter. It features half-timbered cottages, cobbled streets and much more. As years past, architectural changes impacted the town through the work of various artists. This includes Honore de Balzac. If you are interested in old charm, be sure to consider the Corn Exchange, a glass-domed nineteenth century beauty.
Chateau des Ducs D’Alencon
Chateau des Ducs D’Alencon is a sight thanks to its machicolated towers. Initially a lovely chateau, it became a prison during the French Revolution, a status that was reality until the year 2010. It was the town that actually bought the fortress and plans to reopen to the public as an attraction sight in the year 2019.
Alencon’s Natural Wonders
Alencon’s placement is a treat in itself for those that love nature, being situated between the Perseigne and Ecouves forests. Hikers can enjoy a long experience thanks to different available walking trails. You will see oak-studded woods that offer a truly peaceful experience.
Speaking about natural wonders, Alencon is right between Parc Regional Naturel du Perche and Parc Regional Naturel Normandie-Maine. Nature lovers will surely appreciate the area, especially birdwatchers.