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.


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[]

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[]

A street in the old town.

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

  • Le Mans has a well-preserved old town (Cité Plantagenêt, also called Vieux Mans), where the cobbled streets and half-timbered house fronts provided setting for Gérard Depardieu in Cyrano de Bergerac (1989) and a cathedral: Cathédrale St-Julien, is dedicated to St Julian of Le Mans, who is honoured as the city's first bishop.
  • There are remnants of a Roman wall in the old town and Roman baths by the river. These wall are highlighted every summer (July and August) evening in a light show that tells the history of the town.
  • Arboretum de la Grand Prée
  • Jardin des Plantes du Mans
  • Musée de la reine Bérengère, a museum of Le Mans history located in a gothic manor house.
  • Musée de Tessé, the fine arts museum of the city, displaying painting (including artworks by Philippe de Champaigne, Charles Le Brun, François Boucher, John Constable, Ingres, Théodore Géricault and Camille Corot) and archeological collections as well as decorative arts.


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 :


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]



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.


  • Le Mans Sarthe Basket


  • Le Mans UC72


  • Circuit de la Sarthe (cycling)

Notable people[]

Le Mans was the birthplace of:

  • Henry II of England, born 1133
  • Geoffroy V d'Anjou, born 1113
  • Geoffrey de Goreham or Gorron, became Abbot of St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK, in 1119
  • Dom Louis Le Pelletier, born 1663, linguist of the Breton language
  • Gilles-François de Beauvais, born 7 July 1693, was a Jesuit writer and preacher.
  • Basil Moreau,C.S.C, born 1799, a priest of Le Mans founded the Congregation of Holy Cross. Beatified in Le Mans 2007.
  • the Papin sisters whose act of murder (1933) inspired Jean Genêt's The Maids.
  • Jean Françaix, born in 1912, composer
  • Jean Rondeau, born in 1946, racecar driver and constructor
  • François Fillon, born in 1954, Prime Minister of France.
  • Julien Cottereau, born 1969, actor and clown – Cirque du Soleil, now in his own show Imagine Toi.
  • Sébastien Bourdais, born 1979, racecar driver
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, born 1985, professional tennis player.
  • Guillaume Loriot footballer
  • Gilles Villeneuve, lived temporarily in Le Mans in 1973.
  • David Jason, English actor, lived in Le Mans between 1965–1968 and 1999–2001.
  • Andy Wallace, born 1961, racecar driver
  • Leslie, born 4 February 1985, French singer

International relations[]

Twin towns – Sister cities[]

Le Mans is twinned with:

  • United Kingdom Bolton, England, United Kingdom
  • Western Sahara Haouza, Western Sahara
  • Germany Paderborn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany—officially since 1967, traditionally since 836 (oldest partnership of its kind in Europe).
  • Russia Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia
  • Japan Suzuka, Japan
  • Greece Volos, Greece
  • People's Republic of China Xianyang, Shaanxi, China
  • Egypt Alexandria, Egypt


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


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[]

  • Communes of the Sarthe department


  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. 

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Le Mans. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.