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Town hall
Town hall
Coat of arms of Alençon
Coat of arms
Alençon is located in France
Coordinates: 48°25′50″N 0°05′35″E / 48.4306°N 0.0931°E / 48.4306; 0.0931Coordinates: 48°25′50″N 0°05′35″E / 48.4306°N 0.0931°E / 48.4306; 0.0931
Country France
Region Lower Normandy
Department Orne
Arrondissement Alençon
Intercommunality Alençon
 • Mayor (2008–2020) Joaquim Pueyo
 • Land1 10.68 km2 (4.12 sq mi)
Population (1999)
 • Population2 28,935
 • Population2 density 2,700/km2 (7,000/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 61001 / 61000
Elevation 127–178 m (417–584 ft)
(avg. 135 m or 443 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.

Alençon (French pronunciation: ​[a.lɑ̃.sɔ̃]) is a commune in Normandy, France, capital of the Orne department. It is situated 173 kilometres (107 mi) west of Paris. Alençon belongs to the intercommunality of Alençon (with 52,000 people).


The city of Alençon was probably founded in the fourth century by alan soldiers.[1] The name is first seen in a document dated in the seventh century. During the tenth century, Alençon was a buffer state between Normandy and the Maine regions. In 1047, William Duke of Normandy, later known as William the Conqueror and king of England, laid siege to the town. The citizens insulted William by hanging animal skins from the walls, in reference to his ancestry as the illegitimate son of Duke Robert and a tanner's daughter. On capturing the town, William had a number of the citizens' hands cut off in revenge. Alençon was occupied by the English during the Anglo-Norman wars of 1113 to 1203.

The city became the seat of a dukedom in 1415, belonging to the sons of the King of France until the French Revolution, and some of them played important roles in French history: see Duke of Alençon. The French Revolution caused relatively little disorder in this area although there were some royalist uprisings nearby.

A long-standing local fabric industry gave birth to the town's famous point d'Alençon lace in the 18th century. The economic development of the nineteenth century was based on iron foundries and mills in the surrounding region. In the first half of the twentieth century the city developed a flourishing printing industry.

Alençon was home to Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin[2] and Louis Martin,[3] the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.[4] They were the first spouses in the history of the Catholic Church to be proposed for sainthood as a couple, in 2008. Zélie and Louis were married at the Basilica[5] of Notre-Dame in Alençon on 12 July 1858 and spent their whole married life in Alençon, where Thérèse was born[6] in January 1873 and spent her early childhood until the death of her mother in 1877. [1]

On 17 June 1940 the German Army took occupation of Alençon. On 12 August 1944 Alençon was the first French city to be liberated by the French Army under General Leclerc, after minor bomb damage.

After the war the population sharply increased and new industries settled. Many of these were related to plastics and the town is now a major plastics educational centre.


Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1793 12,954 —    
1800 12,407 −4.2%
1806 13,222 +6.6%
1821 13,955 +5.5%
1836 13,934 −0.2%
1841 13,917 −0.1%
1846 14,388 +3.4%
1851 14,760 +2.6%
1856 16,473 +11.6%
1861 16,110 −2.2%
1866 16,115 +0.0%
1872 16,037 −0.5%
1876 16,615 +3.6%
1881 17,237 +3.7%
1886 17,550 +1.8%
1891 18,319 +4.4%
1896 17,841 −2.6%
1901 17,270 −3.2%
1906 17,843 +3.3%
1911 17,378 −2.6%
1921 16,249 −6.5%
1926 16,044 −1.3%
1931 16,688 +4.0%
1936 17,731 +6.2%
1946 16,691 −5.9%
1954 21,893 +31.2%
1962 25,584 +16.9%
1968 31,656 +23.7%
1975 33,680 +6.4%
1982 31,608 −6.2%
1990 29,988 −5.1%
1999 28,935 −3.5%
2006 28,458 −1.6%
2009 27,325 −4.0%
2012 ≈39000 —    


Arms of Alençon

The arms of Alençon are blazoned :
Azure, a double-headed eagle displayed Or.


In the seventeenth century Alençon was chiefly noted for its lace called point d'Alençon.

Today, Alençon is home to a prosperous plastics industry, and, since 1993, to a plastics engineering school.

MPO Fenêtres is a local PVC windows company established in Alençon since 1970, is one of the first company in Alençon with around 170 employees (2009) and a turnover of 28 million euros in 2008. It is also the oldest French PVC windows company still in activity.


Alençon is linked by the A28 autoroute (motorway/freeway) with the nearby cities of Le Mans to the south (Sarthe) and Rouen (Haute-Normandie) to the north.

The A88 autoroute links the A28 just north of Alençon to the coastal port of Caen.

A comprehensive town bus system operates from 7:00 to 19:00.

There is a comprehensive network of cycle paths.


Alençon was the birthplace of:

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Alençon is twinned with:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]