Le Mans is a medium-sized town in western France with a population of 300,000. It is an important motorway crossroads towards Paris, Nantes and the Atlantic coast (A11), Brittany and Rennes (A81), Normandy and Rouen (A28), which makes it quite important for hitchhikers.
Despite its relatively small population, the town is very spread out since it is mostly built with individual houses (its area is similar to that of Lyon which is about 7 times as populated). Therefore, crossing the city with public transportation or, worse, by foot, takes a long time. You really should try to skip the city if you don't plan on stopping.
If you're on the motorway, and your driver doesn't want to get into Le Mans, ask him to let you off at the Le Mans : Nord exit. He can then make a u-turn and get back on the motorway after lettin you off on the parking place. You'll be in the Zone Industrielle Nord (Z.I. Nord for short), a big industrial zone in the North. From there, to get to the city centre, you can either :
- Walk (50 min)
- Take bus n°8 towards République. The stop is behind the big Auchan supermarket, quite well-hidden. Beware, it doesn't come very often, and doesn't drive on sundays.
Take bus n°8 towards Moulin-aux-moines (you can catch it in the city centre, at République for example) ans get off at the bus stop Auchan. You will be in the " Zone Industrielle Nord " or for short Z.I. Nord, it's a big industrial zone. From there you can walk to the toll station (go around the Auchan supermarket, cross the small railway with a tunnel, you'll see a big cinema (Méga CGR) with Charlie Chaplin paintings on it. The toll station is just behind) and hitch at the entrance of the motorway, with a sign. You shouldn't wait long. Beware, it doesn't come very often, and doesn't drive on sundays. Alternatively, you can walk from the city centre (50 min), on the avenue Rhin et Danube and then through the industrial zone, following the (blue) motorway signs.
Other solution : hitch at the crossroads between the Route d'Alençon and the Rue Thomas Edison. Accessible via bus 17, stop is Thomas Edison.
Get on the tram towards Université (north), and get off at the last stop. Go around the big ice skating rink (City Glace) and try to hitch a ride on the avenue Olivier Messiaen. There's plenty of space to stop (even for a truck), and any driver can let you off at the toll station some 5kms further. From there, you should rather easily find a car if you have a sign.