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Alencon France Alencon

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In the southernmost part of Normandy lies the former lace making town of Alençon, which was the centre for tax collection in 17th century Normandy. This combination means that Alençon has an atmosphere of comfortable wealth about it, even though the traditional lace making industry is now more or less obsolete.

Map of Alencon

If lace is of particular interest to you head to the Musée des Beaux Arts et de la Dentelle. For under €3 you get a very modern and informative exhibition of the different ways of making lace, but it is really only fascinating for someone who already has a passion for lace. Several Cambodian artefacts, such as elephant's feet, are also on display for those not riveted by the other exhibits. The Grande Rue in the old town is lined with 18th century houses, and the Chateau des Ducs is an impressive sight although closed to visitors.

On rue St Blaise the Église Notre Dame has an impressive 16th century portal and some nice stained glass in the chapel. There is also an interesting WWII museum the Musée Leclerc at 33 rue Pont Neuf, which contains wartime photos and other artefacts from the occupation.

Alençon's tourist office is on place La Magdelaine in a fifteenth century house called Maison d'Ozé (02 33 80 66 33). The northeast area of town is where the gare SNCF and gare routière are situated, as well as most of the hotels. There are numerous decent cafes and bars in the centre, such as the Café des Sept Colonnes at 2 rue du Chateau, and plenty of shops to wander around in the pedestrianised area.

All of this makes Alencon a pleasant place to stop for lunch when heading out to other places, or a good overnight destination.