Sillé-le-Guillaume is a small town in Sarthe, in Pays de la Loire region, 35 km north-west of Le Mans, on the borders of Mayenne and Normandy.
Former stage of the pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel, Sillé-le-Guillaume developed as a strategic point and two fortresses were erected there, an oppidum then a fortress, in the 11th century, transformed into a castle in the 15th.
Held by Guillaume de Sillé and his descendants, barons who served the Count of Maine to resist the assaults of the Bretons and Normans, the city also became a commercial crossroads and its agricultural fairs made its reputation in the nineteenth century.
Now with its own activities, Sillé-le-Guillaume (about 2,500 inhabitants) has preserved an authentic town center while enhancing its state forest of more than 3,000 hectares and a lake of 35 hectares suitable for swimming and water activities. A tourist and leisure base is located there, called Sillé-Plage. With the historical center of the city, this makes the city a popular destination, labeled Green Station.
A stay at Sillé-le-Guillaume can begin with the discovery of its historical heritage including many listed buildings.
The castle that dominates the city was built in the late fifteenth century on the remains of a fortress partially destroyed after the Hundred Years War.
The shape of a quadrangle flanked by towers at the corners, it has a dungeon that was never used, however, because of the evolution of military technology. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, nature wings were added more residential. The whole remains very impressive and reflects the evolution of the military art. Open all year for groups and in July and August for individual visits. Wednesday, dramatized visit to families. Entrance: from 2 to 5 euros. Information at +33 2 43 14 23 43.
We will not forget, at Sillé-Beach, to focus on the remains of the first fortress of Carolingian era (dating from before the year one thousand). This castle old (referred to in the region "oppidum") was abandoned after the Breton and Norman invasions. The ruins are a rare example of what was then the military architecture.
Back in the village, a visit is the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, former collegiate Romanesque near the castle. Built in the eleventh century, but was rebuilt many times. At the level of the older parts, a distinction that the twelve apostles are represented on the vaults. A scene of the Last Judgment was also preserved. More contemporary, the windows of the nineteenth and twentieth century are remarkable, such as that contained Baroness Jeanne-Marie de Maille, now classified. As for the furniture of the church, it is also contemporary with the exception of the sixteenth century stalls. To understand all the riches of the site, brochures are available at the entrance.
Note that thematic tours are offered to fully appreciate the historical heart of the city. Walks "floating head" in order not to miss anything of carved faces, skylights and windows of the houses of the fifteenth century, and quaint architectural details that mark the old districts, and guided tours to better understand what were housing and daily life once. Information at +33 6 83 37 06 49.
It is then time to head Sillé-Beach across the large forest formerly exploited to provide the charcoal needed for the metallurgical activity.
The entire site can be discovered by a tourist train service on weekends and bank holidays from April to September and daily in July and August. Information +33 6 63 18 45 68.
At the beach itself, bathing is not supervised in July and August. A path was laid for wheelchairs and a special chair is available for disabled people wanting to swim.
For sailing, canoeing or paddle, contact the sailing center at +33 2 43 23 21 77. Initiation possible, and boat rentals.
A mountain bike base is located nearby. A dozen marked trails are arranged to cross the lake and through the forest. Information at +33 6 67 44 36 38.
The archery and rock climbing are also among the possible activities on the basis, as tennis (bring own equipment and book short +33 2 43 20 11 04), while a pony carousel awaits children (inquire +33 6 85 40 48 65).
Finally, for lovers of fishing, the big lake as the adjacent ponds are ideal sites. Inquire about suitable places and regulation at +33 2 43 20 10 32.
For hikers (on foot, mountain bike or horseback), Sillé-le-Guillaume (city side or the forest and beach) as moult nearby area offers tours and thematic trails to enjoy a green environment, the remarkable biodiversity and rich in small Heritage... maps, brochures and information +33 2 43 20 10 32.
To discover the riches of the land, a market takes place on Wednesday and Saturday morning in the city center.
The first Saturday in June, at Sillé-Plage, fishing festival. For specialists and beginners alike, with fun and friendly activities.
The 4th Sunday in July, medieval festival at the castle. On the program, fun activities, costumed parades, ambulatory music, meals in the style of the Middle Ages.
The first Sunday in August, equestrian meeting at the racecourse, on the edge of the forest.
The first weekend in September, the Raid Ox Terra, in Sillé-Plage, offers "nature" trails in teams of two on mountain bikes, canoes or jogs.
The last weekend of September, the Gamelle Trophy offers fun mountain biking races for young and old.