Public transport –trams, buses and taxis – works quite well in Le Mans. The former special bus services from the track to the town centre have been suspended; all traffic from the track to the city will be handled by the tram service instead.
This runs from Antares, inside the full circuit and quite close to Houx Annexe, and goes through Le Mans city centre, passing under the Mulsanne Straight and heading right past Carrefour on the way. A new tunnel takes passengers direct from Garage Vert on the Bugatti circuit, to the terminus. It passes close to the Tertre Rouge bar, but sadly there is no convenient stop nearby. The tram stops on the North side of the railway station, where a major interchange is being constructed. After arriving in the city centre – Place de la Republique - all trams continue on to Universite, which is on the west side of the city. Trams run fairly frequently, typically every 12 minutes to/from Antares. A more frequent service is promised during the race and at other peak times, including Friday afternoon and evening, for the Drivers’ Parade.
The trams tend to do quite well compared to cars in the traffic – which has been slowed down by numerous traffic light junctions to protect trams and cars from each other – so for sightseeing in Le Mans it has a lot to recommend it. It is also excellent value for money, especially if you use the park and ride at Antares. Currently 3.65 euros will buy a day’s relatively secure parking, plus a return ticket to Le Mans each for as many occupants as there are in your car! Using the tram for shopping at Carrefour is feasible, and wheeled luggage is allowed on board, but do not expect the tram to be empty when you board for the trip back to the circuit – the service is very popular with locals. If you use the tram, remember that on the return trip to the circuit you want a tram bound for Antares – NOT Espal, which is the other branch of the service, and terminates a long way from the circuit.
At Antares, the car park is barrier controlled, and on approaching the barrier to enter, the ticket seller in the big booth will offer you the bargain tickets quoted above. After parking, walk across to the tram station, where a tram will usually be waiting. After joining the tram you must “composte” your ticket. This has nothing to do with last week’s cabbage leaves, but requires you to enter your ticket in the machine near the door in the tram, which validates it. Do this every time you join a tram. When rejoining your car after the trip, the car park exit barrier will lift automatically when you approach.
If you elect not to use the park and ride, then ticket purchase takes place from a machine on the tram station platform – the same rules about validating tickets apply, of course.
The tram line is UNIVERSITE – ANTARES, prices: 1,25 € single, 3,60 per day 9,50 for ten trips. Tickets are sold from automatic machines at stops and at Setram agencies. The trams number 23 in total, and run between 05.00 and 01.30, with intervals of 4.5 mins in peak times.
At the time of going to press, no additional services have been announced but the tramway still runs for nearly 20 hours out of 24:
The line to and from the Town Centre (Place de la République ↔ Railway station ↔ Terminus Antarès (circuit)operates from 05.30 to 01.00 daily.
For further information phone :
•Tél : 02 43 34 76 76
•Website : www.setram.fr
around Le Mans call:
Taxis are usually waiting opposite the main entrance to the circuit near the museum for customers. Permanent taxi ranks can be found at various points throughout Le Mans, e.g. Place de la République, Centre Hospitalier, Gare Nord et Sud, Sablons (Place du Marché) and at Pontlieue.
If you can handle the transport, a bicycle is a nice thing to have. You can whizz from Tertre Rouge to Arnage village and Arnage corner via the Esses, the Village and points in between. That way you can see loads of action and get up to the shops for fresh bread on the Sunday morning. You will also have no traffic problems.
In 2010 there were bicycles for rent at the Antares Tram terminus for €10/day.
Do note though, that after dark, a high visibility jacket is required by law. Failure to wear one can be punishable by a fine.
This A.C.O. service has increased over the years to provide free (to those with Enceinte Generale) transport around the circuit. These buses can be great way to get around the circuit but they have also become more chaotic with the bus-stop at Mulsanne corner becoming rather agitated after midnight due to buses arriving with few or no empty seats to take away folks waiting and buses after lunch on Sunday taking several hours to go nowhere in the traffic jams.
In 2010 the A.C.O implemented a new routing system with two navette routes. The Orange “A” route runs between the South Entrance (the tram terminus near Antares) and Beausejour with a stop at Technoparc. The Blue “B” route runs between the North Entrance and Arnage/Mulsanne viewing areas with a stop near the Porsche viewing area. In 2010 the A route ran
The B route ran non-stop from Saturday 14:00 through Sunday 18:00.
8 “Petit Trains”/little trains run as follows:
1. North Entrance to Maison Blanche
2,3. P13/ Paddock/ Village
5,6. Virage Porsche, Technopark roundabout
7. Antares, Technopark Roundabout
8. Maison Blanche/Virage Porsche (exterior)
On Wednesday and Thursday only trains 5 & 6 run, 15:00 to midnight. On Saturday all trains run 09:30 to 02:00 and on Sunday from 09:00 till 15:00.
A CA member who tried to use the service in 2009 reported the following:
Anyone else get caught in the bottleneck that is the shuttle bus service on the Saturday night? Joyous! After queueing for over an hour at Mulsanne corner at around midnight and witnessing a fight almost break out between a CA member and a particularly irritating French man, then seeing the next bus go to the wrong end of the queue and pick up people that had just joined the queue, we decided to start walking. Fortunately we managed to get a lift after a few hours of walking away from the circuit! Stupid one way road system down there! I'll point out that said CA member was simply defending the fact that he was in the queue first. They also decided to start walking as they were camped at Arnage corner so it wasn't quite as far to walk (though if you went the way we went, it was massive). If you're reading, did you get back ok? It may also please you know that during our epic walk through the darkness, we came across a stopped shuttle bus and the angry french man that had kicked off previously had been ejected from the bus and was having a heated debate with the gendarmes present!
Bus no. 21 goes to Arnage, the bus stop closest to the circuit is the the Expo centre. For details see the map at http://www.setram.fr/carte/index.php?verif=1.