Spared during WW2, Sées harbours many touristic marvels, from small heritage sites (wash houses, statues, sculpted shop signs…) to more majestic buildings. The town boasts eleven HistoricalMonument listed buildings and ten or so gardens and landscaped areas where it’s nice to enjoy the sun.
The Tourist Information Centre organises the following guided tours upon request for groups of at least 10 people:
- Discovery of the cathedral and the Canon Quarter (3€ /pers.)
- Tour of the town at nightfall via the Historic Walk (free, in season)
- Themed days with community partners (free, in season)
To discover the built and natural heritage of Sées, you can choose the self guided tour by following the Historic Walk signs.
A website is dedicated to the Historic Walk at the following address: parcours-historique.ville-sees.fr
Discover a selection of things you shouldn’t miss – a reflection of the historical diversity present in the town:
Considered by many as the emblem of the town, the present Our Lady cathedral is the fifth Christian construction in the same place. The history of the structure is more than eventful, between destruction caused by wars or fires and periods of restoration. The cathedral remains however a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that seduces many visitors each year, a beauty equally appreciable by night thanks to bicoloured lighting.
The building now called the Canonical Chapel was used as a dining room and dormitory between the 12th and the 19th Century for the Canons that lived then by the Rule of St Augustine. The wooden gables and arcade were built in the 1950’s when the building was transformed into a covered marketplace. Today the building hosts cultural events.
Once located near the original marketplace, it was decided upon to construct a new building next to the cathedral in 1840. To do this, buildings of the Chapter, north of the cathedral, had to be demolished. The work started in 1844 and was finished in 1848. Today the building still houses the administrative and social services of the town as well as the Tourist Information Centre and the Police Station.
The Bishop Jean-Baptiste of Argentré had this palace built shortly before the Revolution to house the residence of the Bishop as well as the Diocesan administration. It served as a military hospital during WW1 and was occupied by the Germans during WW2. From 1960 to 1980 it housed a middle school before becoming property of Orne Council in 1989. On the opposite side of the road lie the palace gardens, designed and landscaped between 1779 and 1785 for the Bishop of Argentré. They were restored between 2010 and 2011.
The motte-and-bailey was constructed at the beginning of the 11th Century. Of Viking inspiration, this man-made mound was once topped with a wooden or stone tower that served as an observation post for the protection of the village.
From the Middle Ages, this square has hosted markets. The marketplace was then rectangular and hosted three weekly markets and nine annual fairs. From 1833 to 1836 a new rotunda shaped building was constructed with a slate roof, a central silo and bays separated by circular pillars. After WW1 the market hall was used to stock grain and fertiliser. Today, it houses the town library and some end of year events.
The fountain field is a man made pond designed and made between 1786 and 1788 just before the Revolution. It is filled by several springs of the area. There is also a garden planted with Lime/Linden trees with a wash-house, horse trough and an esplanade. On the other side of the Orne River lies the marshlands, an old swamp, dried up from the 13th Century by monks, to be able to graze livestock. After cultivating the land in the second half of the 20th Century, this area was brought back to its natural origins through landscaping done in 2011 (in particular the footbridge). One can find a protected species of fern, the Adderstongue (ophioglossum vulgatum) and the rare Crested Newt.