Le Mans
Palais of Comtes du Maine, birth place of Henry II of England

Le Mans is located in France
Le Mans
Coordinates: 48°00′28″N 0°11′54″E / 48.00773, 0.19844Coordinates: 48°00′28″N 0°11′54″E / 48.00773, 0.19844
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Sarthe
Arrondissement Le Mans
Intercommunality Le Mans
 • Mayor (2001–2008) Jean-Claude Boulard
Area1 52.81 km2 (20.39 sq mi)
Population (2006)2 148,169
 • Density 2,800/km2 (7,300/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 72181 / 72000
Dialling codes (0)243
Elevation 38–134 m (125–440 ft)
(avg. 51 m or 167 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Le Mans (French pronunciation: [ləmɑ̃]) is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.

Its inhabitants are called Manceaux and Mancelles. It has been host to the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race since 1923.

History[edit | edit source]

First mentioned by Ptolemy,[1] the Roman city Vindinium was the capital of the Aulerci, a sub tribe of the Aedui. Le Mans is also known as Civitas Cenomanorum (City of the Cenomani). Their city, seized by the Romans in 47 BC, lies in the ancient Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis. An amphitheatre built in the third century AD is still visible, but the thermae were demolished during the crisis of the third century to build the city's walls, which remain some of the most complete circuit of Gallo-Roman city walling that survives.

Gallo-Roman walls

Gregory of Tours mentions a Frankish sub-king Rigomer, who was killed by King Clovis I in his campaign to unite the Frankish territories.

As the principal city of Maine, Le Mans was the stage for struggles in the eleventh century between the counts of Anjou and the dukes of Normandy. When the Normans had control of Maine, William the Conqueror was able to invade England successfully; however in 1069 the citizens revolted and expelled the Normans, which led to Hugh being proclaimed count of Maine. Geoffrey V of Anjou married Mathilde in the cathedral, where Henry II Plantagenet, king of England, was baptized.

World War II[edit | edit source]

Soon after Le Mans was liberated by the U.S. 79th and 90th Infantry Divisions on 8 August 1944,[2] engineers of the Ninth Air Force IX Engineering Command began construction of a combat Advanced Landing Ground outside of the town. The airfield was declared operational on 3 September and designated as "A-35". It was used by several American fighter and transport units until late November when the airfield was closed.[3][4]

Main sights[edit | edit source]

A street in the old town.

Manhole cover depicting the city's coat-of-arms.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

At the 1999 French census, there were 293,159 inhabitants in the metropolitan area (aire urbaine) of Le Mans, with 146,105 of these living in the city proper (commune).

Historical population of Le Mans
(Source : http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/psdc.htm)

Transportation[edit | edit source]

The Gare du Mans is the main railway station of Le Mans. It takes 1 hour to reach Paris from Le Mans by TGV high speed train. There are also TGV connections to Lille, Marseille, Nantes, Rennes and Brest. Gare du Mans is also a hub for regional trains. Le Mans inaugurated a new light rail system on 17 November 2007.[5]

Sport[edit | edit source]

Motorsport[edit | edit source]

Dunlop Curve

The city is best known for its connection with motorsports. There are actually two separate racing tracks at Le Mans, though they share certain portions. The smaller is the Bugatti Circuit (named after Ettore Bugatti, founder of the car company bearing his name), a relatively short permanent circuit which is used for racing throughout the year. The longer and more famous Circuit de la Sarthe is composed partly of public roads, which are closed to the public when the track is in use for racing, and has been host to the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race since 1923. Boutiques and shops are set up during the race selling merchandise and promoting products for cars. The first French Grand Prix took place on a 64-mile (103 km) circuit based at Le Mans in 1906. The "Le Mans start" takes its name from the way racers lined up across the street from their cars and ran across the street and jumped into their cars to begin.

Basketball[edit | edit source]

Football[edit | edit source]

Cycling[edit | edit source]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

Le Mans was the birthplace of:

International relations[edit | edit source]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit | edit source]

Le Mans is twinned with:

Gastronomy[edit | edit source]

The culinary specialty of Le Mans is rillettes, a shredded pork pâté.

Landmarks[edit | edit source]

At Mayet, near Le Mans, and with a height of 342 m, the Le Mans-Mayet transmitter is one of the tallest radio masts in France.

Panorama of Le Mans, facing north-west.
Panorama of Le Mans, facing north-west.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Geography 2.8.8
  2. ^ Blumenson, Martin, Breakout and Pursuit, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 436–8
  3. ^ Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
  4. ^ Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  5. ^ "Le Mans light rail takes off". Railway Gazette International. 6 January 2008. http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view//le-mans-light-rail-takes-off.html. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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