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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 48°00′28″N 0°11′54″E / 48.00773°N 0.19844°E / 48.00773; 0.19844

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

Le Mans is located in France
Le Mans
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Sarthe
Arrondissement Le Mans
Intercommunality Le Mans
Mayor Jean-Claude Boulard
Elevation 38–134 m (120–440 ft)
(avg. 51 m/170 ft)
Land area1 52.81 km2 (20.39 sq mi)
Population2 148,169  (2006)
 - Density 2,806 /km2 (7,270 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 72181/ 72000
Dialling code (0)243
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: 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 or Vindunum 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.

Gaul-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 successfully invade England; 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 Plantagent, king of England, was baptized.

Main sights


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).

Demographic evolution of Le Mans between 1962 and 2006
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
132,181 143,246 152,285 147,697 145,502 146,105 148,169

source :


Le Mans inaugurated a new light rail system on 17 November 2007.[2]



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.




Notable people

Le Mans was the birthplace of:

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Le Mans is twinned with:


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.

World War II

After the liberation of the area by Allied Forces in 1944, engineers of the Ninth Air Force IX Engineering Command began construction of a combat Advanced Landing Ground outside of the town. Declared operational on 3 September, the airfield was designated as "A-35", it was used by several American fighter and transport units until late November when the airfield was closed.[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ Geography 2.8.8
  2. ^
  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.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Le Mans is a town in France best known for its annual 24 hour automobile race.

Le Mans old city
Le Mans old city


The rich and 17 centuries long history of Le Mans, former capital of the province of Maine, is too often eclipsed by the annual worldwide famous 24h race, held on the brink of the city. There are however beautiful reminders of the past and a gloriously restored old city, which was used as a backdrop for several movies. The cathedral Saint-Julien, at its heart, is a wonder and should not be missed. The city is very easily accessible from Paris, it has much to offer and deserves more than only a short trip to its circuit when the motors roar. The "Cité Plantagenêt" may be one of the best-kept secrets in France.

Get in

By plane

There is a very small airfield [1] located near the circuit, with no regular connections to other major cities. As there is a direct TGV access from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, there is absolutely no point in trying to get to Le Mans by plane, unless you have a private or chartered (small) plane.

By train

The TGV stops in Le Mans, and many TGV West-bounded trains leaving from Paris stop in Le Mans. From Gare Montparnasse in Paris, there are trains every hour or so, and the 210-km trip takes 55 minutes. There is also a direct TGV service from Charles de Gaulle Airport (through TGV bypassing Paris to go to Nantes or Bordeaux), the trip takes 90 minutes, and the ticket train to Le Mans can be combined with your incoming flight, as if it was a connecting domestic flight. Check with your agency. From Le Mans, you can easily access Bretagne, Bordeaux or Nantes.

Regional trains give you access to/from neighboring towns of Angers, Tours or Laval.

By car

Le Mans has many good road links to the rest of the country. The A11 L'Oceane highway runs from Paris to Nantes via Le Mans, and the A81 from Le Mans heads West to Rennes. It takes roughly 2h from Paris to drive to Le Mans. The city of Chartres, half-way from Paris has a magnificient cathedral which deserves a stop.

Get around

Public buses are available and since the end of 2007 a tramway is in operation. It runs from the university on the west of the town, through the centre and then out east, where it splits in two. The "Antares" terminus is at the Le Mans 24 hour circuit. Anyway, for tourists, major "getting around" is from/to the station from/to town center, which involves either a long 30 minutes walk, a short taxi ride or a 5 minutes bus ride. Getting to the circuit is a bit longer (20 minutes by taxi, or half an hour by public bus). Walking to the circuit from town center is not really convenient, but it could be an option when there is too much traffic and road blocks due to the race.

The modern city center is the Place de la Republique, whereas the old heart of the city is behind the Place des Jacobins. Various shops (including the Centre Jacobins shopping center), bars and restaurants dot the 20 minutes walk between the two areas.

  • Take your time to get up to date information at the Office du Tourisme (Tourism center [2]), located in Rue de l'Etoile. It is a 10 mins walk from the Cathedral.
Map of Le Mans
Map of Le Mans
  • The splendid Saint-Julien Cathedral, located in the heart of the town, is a magnificient example of the lengths and efforts put to build up such buildings in the middle-age. With its reversed rounded arches, it is one of the most impressive religious monuments in the area, and one of the largest cathedral in France. Its building started in the XIth century, spanning over 500 years. Techniques and styles evolved throughout its history, as a result the cathedral is a mix between various architectural styles. The nave is pure Roman, whereas the choir is in flamboyant Gothic. The stained glases inside the cathedral should not be missed. One of those glasses, dating back from the twelve century, is actually the oldest stained glass still standing in the world.
Cathedral Saint Julien in Le Mans
Cathedral Saint Julien in Le Mans
  • The Old City (Cite Plantagenet), just behind the cathedral, is a large and nice example, with many houses and buildings dating back from the late middle age \ beginning of renaissance (look for the Pilier Rouge or the Maison des Deux Amis). The paved streets and limited traffic make for a nice strolling in this very "middle age looking" old town. In the old town, you can stop at the little Musee de la Reine Berengere Museum for some displays about the local history. The large Palais de Comtes du Maine palace is now part of the city hall and can not be visited. Ruins of a Roman thermal building dating from the 3rd century, have recently been uncovered. They can be visited with a prior reservation (phone number is 02 43 28 17 22).
  • The Gallo-Roman Walls, around the old city, date back from the IIIrd century and are still in excellent condition.
  • The Musee de Tesse museum, just outside of the old city, offers displays of various interest, with a reconstitution of an Egytian tomb at the basement.
  • L'abbaye de l'Epau (Epau Abbey), on the Eastern side of the town, was founded by Queen Berengaria of Navarre, widow of Richard I of England (Richard Lionheart). Only ruins were remaining during the 1950s, but after 30 years of restoration, the Abbey, now a proprety of the prefecture, can be visited and is used for cultural events, notably the Festival de l'Epau[3].
The circuit
The circuit
  • The circuit of the 24 Heures du Mans is located at the South end of the city. The famous Hunaudieres straight is actually part of the public road from Le Mans to Tours. You can visit some parts of the rest circuit, though it is of limited interest if there is no race. Seeing the 24h, is of course a very different story. The town buzzles with many international visitors and the noise of the motors can be heard from the city center. Try to stay awake for the whole 24h, the glow of the carbon brakes in the night with bolids racing faster than formula one is unforgettable. The tradition at the end of the race is for the public to invade the circuit. Although it is officially prohibited, a few thousand people each year take the chance of a lifetime to take a stroll on the bitume. Close to the circuit is a large Automobile Museum[4], open even if there is no race.


Rillettes, a kind of boiled pork pate, is the culinary specialty of Le Mans. It actually tastes much better than its description. You can buy some rillettes in almost every meat-shop in town, and it makes for the perfect sandwich pasted on some fresh baguette.

A very good variety of restaurants is found in the town center and especially in or around the old city. For 50 Euros and a very good sample of French cuisine, give a try to Le Grenier A Sel, 26 place de l'Eperon, La Ciboulette, 14 rue de la vielle porte, or Le Nez Rouge, 107 Grande rue, all of them close or inside the old city. Le Baobab, on the same street as La Ciboulette, offers some African cuisine at the very heart of the old city.

The area closer to Place de la Republique, popular with young people on weekends, offers cheaper eats, with several kebab shops that would fill you for 10 Euros or less.


Le Mans is a rather quiet town (except for a few hours once a year) and the University campus is quite far from the center, so on weekdays the streets are almost empty and the bars are calm, to say the least. The majority of bars and pubs are located close to Place de la Republique. The main arteries for an evening drink in Le Mans would be Rue du Port, going from Place de la Republique to Sarthe river, and Rue du Docteur Leroy, also starting from Place de la Republique. On weekends, there are a few busy spots, you can check Le Mulligan's, 44 rue du docteur Leroy, an irish pub, or the Le Passeport du cochon vert, 25 place d'Alger (its name would poetically translate as The green pig passport), both are frequented by a young clientele. In the old town, Le Saint-Pierre, 7 place Saint-Pierre (facing the town hall), is completely packed during the week-ends. One of the heritage houses of the old city, Le Pilier Rouge, 5 rue du Pilier Rouge, has been fully restored into a bar. It is located right above the huge tunnel crossing under the old city.

There are a few gay bars, notably La Limite, 7, Rue Saint-Honore in the old city, or L'Arc en ciel, 2 rue Doree, also in the old city.


The area around, and even inside, the loop of the circuit is full of campgrounds (the Houx, the Maison Blanche...) which are, as you may expect, very busy during the race. We are talking here about campgrounds located very close to a deafening source of noise, invaded by hordes of motor and beer fans, so the last thing you should expect to be doing there is sleeping. But if you are in Le Mans for the 24h, you do not want to be sleeping, right ? For more information about camping around the circuit, take a look at the aptly named Le Mans Camping Survival Guide.

7 km North of the city is the quieter Camping du vieux moulin.

You can find some business hotels directly at the train station (South Exit), or just across the street at the North Exit. There are some average to high standards hotels in the center (for instance Hotel Concorde, located on Avenue du General Leclerc, not very far from the station, or Mercure on Rue Chanzy). If you come for the race, book well ahead, otherwise it should not be a problem to get a room.

There is actually one hotel located directly on the circuit, the hotel Arbor, located at km 6 on the Hunaudieres straight, just before Mulsanne. Usually, at that point, you would expect something like "book well ahead if you want to be staying there during the race". The truth is closer to something like "book years ahead".

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LE MANS, a town of north-western France, capital of the department of Sarthe, 77 m. S.W. of Chartres on the railway from Paris to Brest. Pop. (1906) town, 54,907, commune, 65,467. It is situated just above the confluence of the Sarthe and the Huisne, on an elevation rising from the left bank of the Sarthe. Several bridges connect the old town and the new quarters which have sprung up round it with the more extensive quarter of Pre on the right bank. Modern thoroughfares are gradually superseding the winding and narrow streets of old houses; a tunnel connects the Place des Jacobins with the river side. The cathedral, built in the highest part of the town, was originally founded by St Julian, to whom it is dedicated. The nave dates from the 11th and 12th centuries. In the 13th century the choir was enlarged in the grandest and boldest style of that period. The transepts, which are higher than the nave, were rebuilt in the 15th century, and the bell-tower of the south, transept, the lower part of which is Romanesque, was rebuilt in the 15th and ,6th centuries. Some of the stained glass in the nave, dating from the first half of the 12th century, is the oldest in France; the west window, representing the legend of St Julian, is especially interesting. The south lateral portal (12th century) is richly decorated, and its statuettes exhibit many costumes of the period. The austere simplicity of the older part of the building is in striking contrast with the lavish richness of the ornamentation in the choir, where the stained glass is especially fine. The rose-window (r 5th century) of the north transept, representing the Last Judgment, contains many historical figures. The cathedral also has curious tapestries and some remarkable tombs, including that of Berengaria, queen of Richard Coeur de Lion. Close to the western wall is a megalithic monument nearly 15 ft. in height. The church of La Couture, which belonged to an old abbey founded in the 7th century by St Bertrand, has a porch of the 13th century with fine statuary; the rest of the building is older. The church of Notre-Dame du Pre, on the right bank of the Sarthe, is Romanesque in style. The hotel de ville was built in 1756 on the site of the former castle of the counts of Maine; the prefecture (1760) occupies the site of the monastery of La Couture, and contains the library, the communal archives, and natural history and art collections; there is also an archaeological museum. Among the old houses may be mentioned the Hotel du Grabatoire of the Renaissance, once a hospital for the canons and the so-called house of Queen Berengaria (16th century), meeting place of the historical and archaeological society of Maine. A monument to General Chanzy commemorates the battle of Le Mans (1871). Le Mans is the seat of a bishopric dating from the 3rd century, of a prefect, and of a court of assizes, and headquarters of the IV. army corps. It has also tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a council. of trade-arbitrators, a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France, an exchange, a lycee for boys, training colleges, a higher ecclesiastical seminary and a school of music. The town has a great variety of industries, carried on chiefly in the southern suburb of Pontlieue. The more important are the state manufacture of tobacco, the preparation of preserved vegetables, fish, &c., tanning, hemp-spinning, bell-founding, flour-milling, the founding of copper and other metals, and the manufacture of railway wagons, machinery and engineering material, agricultural implements, rope, cloth and stained glass. The fattening of poultry is an important local industry, and there is trade in cattle, wine, cloth, farm-produce, &c. The town is an important railway centre.

As the capital of the Aulerci Cenomanni, Le Mans was called Suindinum or Vindinum. The Romans built walls round it in the 3rd century, and traces of them are still to be seen close to the left bank of the river near the cathedral. In the same century the town was evangelized by St Julian, who became its first bishop. Ruled at first by his successors - notably St AldricLe Mans passed in the middle ages to the counts of Maine (q.v.), whose capital and residence it became. About the middle of the 11th century the citizens secured a communal charter, but in 1063 the town was seized by William the Conqueror, who deprived them of their liberties, which were recovered when the countship of Maine had passed to the Plantagenet kings of England. Le Mans was taken by Philip Augustus in 1189, recaptured by John, subsequently confiscated and later ceded to Queen Berengaria, who did much for its prosperity. It was several times besieged in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1793 it was seized by the Vendeans, who were expelled by the Republican generals Marceau and Westermann after a stubborn battle in the streets. In 1799 it was again occupied by the Chouans.

The battle of Le Mans (loth-12th January 1871) was the culminating point of General Chanzy's fighting retreat into western France after the winter campaign in Beauce and Perche (see Franco-German War). The numerous, but ill-trained and ill-equipped, levies of the French were followed up by Prince Frederick Charles with the German II. Army, now very much weakened but consisting of soldiers who had in six months' active warfare acquired the self-confidence of veterans. The Germans advanced with three army corps in first line and one in reserve. On the 9th of January the centre corps (III.) drove an advanced division of the French from Ardenay (13 m. E. of Le Mans). On the 10th of January Chanzy's main defensive position was approached. Its right wing was east of the Sarthe and 3-5 m. from Le Mans, its centre on the heights of Anvours with the river Huisne behind it, and its left scattered along the western bank of the same river as far as Montfort (1 2 m. E.N.E. of Le Mans) and thence northward for some miles. On the 10th there was a severe struggle for the villages along the front of the French centre. On the 11th Chanzy attempted a counteroffensive from many points, but owing to the misbehaviour of certain of his rawest levies, the Germans were able to drive him back, and as their cavalry now began to appear beyond his extreme left flank, he retreated in the night of the 11th on Laval, the Germans occupying Le Mans after a brief rearguard fight on the 12th.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun

Le Mans

  1. A city in France, and capital of the department of Sarthe
  2. (informal) A contraction of The 24 Hours of Le Mans, an annual 24-hour motor race held near Le Mans.

Related terms


Simple English

Coordinates: 48°01′12″N 0°11′56″E / 48.020013°N 0.198784°E / 48.020013; 0.198784

Commune of Le Mans

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


Le Mans
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Sarthe
Arrondissement Le Mans
Intercommunality Le Mans
Mayor Jean-Claude Boulard
Elevation Template:Convert/–
(avg. 51 m / 167 ft)
Land area1 52.81 km2 (20.39 sq mi)
Population1 148,169  
 - Density 2,806 /km2 (7,270 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 72181/ 72000
Dialling code (0)243
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Le Mans is a commune. It is found in the region Pays de la Loire in the Sarthe department in the west of France.

Le Mans is a city in France. It has about 143,000 inhabitants. Le Mans is well-known by the 24-hour-car-race of Le Mans.

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