Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei travel guide

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Visit Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei (Normandy, France)

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St-Ceneri-le-Gerei is a very pretty village in a lovely wooded setting on a bend in the River Sarthe in the heart of southern Normandy, in the Orne department to the south-west of Alencon.

The village is officially classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.

The history of the village dates from the 7th century when an Italian called Ceneri decided to settle here, having witnessed a miracle, and he soon attracted a group of disciples who constructed a monastery (this original monastery was destroyed by the vikings in the early 10th century).

Explore Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei

Start your visit on the little stone bridge that crosses the River Sarthe, and a look at the pretty houses along the river banks. The village on both sides of the river is of interest, with picturesque cottages running up the hills from the bridge.

centre of Saint-Ceneri-de-Gerei

Heading up the hill into the historical centre of the village you will see the main town square and an 11th century church. The church is in a simple roman style, the main decorative element being the arches in the clocktower.

Inside the church you can see some very high quality frescoes painted in the 12th and 14th century. In part, the frescoes are in such good condition because they were plastered over in the 17th century, only to be rediscovered 200 years later.

Further along the river there is a small 15th century chapel on the site where Saint-Ceneri originally settled. The chapel contains a statue of Saint-Ceneri to which various miracles have been attributed, both at the time that Saint-Ceneri first settled here as well as in the following centuries.

Young ladies hoping to get married soon should bring a needle with them to the chapel to stick in the robe of the saint - if it stays in place you will be married within a year.

Ladies wanting to get pregnant should lie on the large stone in the chapel floor, which was the stone on which the Saint slept, and can expect to fall pregnant shortly.

On the opposite banks of the river is an old water source which is attribued with the powers of healing eye problems. There is a path from the bridge to the 'miraculous source' that follows the other river bank.


Nowadays Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei is better known for attracting artists than disciples, attracted of course by the unspoiled character of the village, and several artists have established galleries and workshops here.

They are following a tradition that started in the middle of the 19th century when the village attracted many artists, poets and musicians. Take a look inside the Auberge Moisy and there is a room where lodging artists painted their profiles or those of other clients.

A popular object for the paintings was the little chapel and an information board near the chapel shows some examples of the different styles of paintings of the chapel. The contrast between the colourful and serene paintings by Rene Veillon and Andre Paly and the bleak and rather sinister version by Bernard Buffet is quite striking.

There is a large car park near to the river, a popular spot also for motor homes, and this is a good spot for picnics.

river in village

Attractions in the region

Saint-Ceneri is in the Parc Naturel Regional de Normandie-Marne and a tour of the villages in the park is a nice way of admiring the scenery. The Maison du Park on the edge of the river is the attractive building with lots of blue-painted wood and is used for various exhibitions.

Canoeing along the Sarthe river through and near Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei is a popular local activity. You can also walk to the summit of the Mont de Avaloirs - although only at an altitude of just over 400 metres, it is the highest point in the region and has far-reaching views.

The village is also the starting point for a pretty 10 kilometre walk - pick up a leaflet from the tourist office.

Nearby the Gardens at La Mansoniere are also recommended, with several different 'garden rooms' to be explored.

Most visitors are here to enjoy the countryside of the Regional Natural Park of Normandy-Maine - we suggest cycling and walking where possible - and towns of note nearby include Alencon and the riverside town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe.

You can find more travel ideas in the Orne guide and the Normandy guide.

See also: 

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Visit near Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei with France This Way reviews

Les Jardins de la Mansoniere

Les Jardins de la Mansoniere

Les Jardins de la Mansoniere is a lovely garden in the charming village of St-Ceneri-le-Gerei

Les Jardins de la Mansoniere guide


There are several sites of historical interest in Alencon, best known as a centre for lace production

Alencon guide


The traditional market hall and remains of a medieval castle, and the river and bridge, are among the sights to enjoy here at Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe guide


It is the countryside around Beaumont-sur-Sarthe that is the main attraction, but the town itself has several places of interest

Beaumont-sur-Sarthe guide


Sillé le Guillaume has a chateau dating to the 11th century and a 13th century collegiate church

Sillé-le-Guillaume guide


The cathedral is the famous attraction at Sees, but there are other sites of interest in the town and the nearby Ecouves Forest to explore

Sees guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Orne

Tourist classifications for Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei

Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)

Address: Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Alençon 1er Canton, Alençon, Normandy, 61250, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 48.3808, longitude -0.051389

Plan your visit to Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei, Orne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Mont du Haut-Fourché: site of natural beauty (3 km)
  • Normandie-Maine: regional natural parc (17 km)
  • Signal d'Écouves: site of natural beauty (20 km)
  • Forêt d'Écouves: site of natural beauty (20 km)
  • Carrouges Chateau: national monument (21 km)
  • Forêt de Perseigne: site of natural beauty (22 km)
  • Sassy: remarkable garden (32 km)
  • Jublains: town of art and history (35 km)
  • Evron: town of art and history (36 km)
  • Sainte-Suzanne: most beautiful village (38 km)
  • Saint-Loup-du-Gast: ville fleurie 4* (39 km)
  • Argentan: recommended detour (41 km)

The French version of this page is at Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei (Francais)