Worth getting out of bed for
Head to Alençon to see the reassuringly expensive point d’Alençon embroidery being made. Only a dozen or so lacemakers have the closely guarded skills required.
The château’s owners have a gastronomic side project: Rive Droite, a collection of dining rooms set in the town’s 18th-century former lace museum on Rue du Pont Neuf in Alençon, where you can enjoy seasonal food either indoors or on a pretty riverside terrace. Saint-Céneri le Gérei is often voted as one of France’s most beautiful villages, and its other boast is painters’ school turned rustic bistro L’Auberge des Peintres (+33 (0)2 33 26 49 18), where dishes such as seafood cassoulet and a very good black pudding exemplify simple French food done well. In La Perrière, La Maison d’Horbée on the Grande Place (+33 (0)2 33 73 18 41) is a tearoom, gallery and antique shop in one, for browsing brocante with your coffee and brioche. In Neufchâtel-en-Saosnois, Le Relais des Etangs de Guibert (+33 (0)2 43 97 15 38), overlooking a woodland-fringed lake, serves specialities such as carpaccio of foie gras and lobster.