08 June 2015

A Sunday afternoon drive through the Perche

We left the town of Nogent-le-Rotrou after our lunch of moules et frites and drove west toward the small Norman city of Alençon. Our destination was a château that is operated as an upscale hotel-restaurant by the son of an old friend of CHM's in the little town of Saint-Paterne right outside Alençon, and then on to the hotel where we had reserved rooms in Mortagne-au-Perche.

It was still raining, more "on" than "off" — we weren't too lucky. We turned off the main highway because on the Michelin map CHM spotted three symbols for big houses, which can be châteaux or manoirs (manor houses) along a little byway between Nogent and the town of Bellême, where we also wanted to look around. The photo above shows you the kinds of roads we were driving on.

The first place we passed through was called Dancé (pop. 368), where we drove past what I thought was a beautiful old church. I stopped the car and snapped a couple of photos, including the one just above. A church was first built on the site in the 1200s, and the building was modified in the 1400s and 1500s. It's dedicated to Saint John.

Then we came to the place called Saint-Quentin, hamlet on the territory of the town of Berd'Huis (pop. 1,068), where we saw two old manor houses that were both built in the 1400s and 1500s, I believe — in other words, around the time when Columbus first sailed to America. The first one was the smaller house of the two, shown above, and I don't know what it's called.

The second, larger house is called Le Château du Grand Saint-Quentin, and it was apparently built around the same time as the smaller house, but on the site of an ancient fortified construction. It appeared to be occupied, and there wasn't a really good place to get a photo. We drove up onto the driveway, but decided to turn back so as not to disturb the residents (or get in trouble).

Finally, for today, the next place we saw was in the village of Nocé (pop. 775). It was called Le Château de Lormarin (not the same spelling as the better-known Lourmarin, in Provence). Lormarin is operated as an antique business and B+B (chambres d'hôtes). We could only take a few photos from outside the main gate on a Sunday afternoon, and from farther down the road. The rain stopped for a minute or two and I snapped away.


  1. chm, we will keep Saint-Paterne in mind when we're looking for a B&B.

    Ken, some of these buildings are open on the Journees du Patrimoine. The Grand Saint-Quentin was full of African art. The building had been adapted for modern living but had carefully preserved the original architecture and layout. They made a feature of the wide, deep well in the living room. It was covered with strong glass, but still!

    We're enjoying your visit to the Perche very much.

  2. Un autre Charles-Henry à Saint-Paterne :-)

    1. Bonjour Cousine,
      He and is wife are absolutely charming.

    2. ... his wife... sorry!

  3. These are really great places to get to see. Wow :)

  4. Others who have never traveled to France have no idea how many "chateaux" there really are throughout France! I would love to be on that trip with you two to see these! I think turrets are soooo fun!

    Mary in Oregon


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