Le Mans

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This article is about the city in France. For the sportscar endurance race, see 24 Hours of Le Mans. For racecar type, see Le Mans Prototype. For other uses, see Le Mans (disambiguation).
"Mans" redirects here. For plural of, see Man (disambiguation). For other uses, see MANS.
Le Mans Ville
Top row: left, Le Mans 24-hr automobile race in June; right, Le Mans Justice Department Office; Middle row: View of Sarthe River and historic area, including the Palais of Comtes du Maine; Bottom row: left, Le Mans Tramway in Gambetta Street; center, Facade built in Le Mans Commerce Center; right, Saint Julien Cathedral
Top row: left, Le Mans 24-hr automobile race in June; right, Le Mans Justice Department Office; Middle row: View of Sarthe River and historic area, including the Palais of Comtes du Maine; Bottom row: left, Le Mans Tramway in Gambetta Street; center, Facade built in Le Mans Commerce Center; right, Saint Julien Cathedral
Coat of arms of Le Mans Ville
Coat of arms
Le Mans Ville is located in France
Le Mans Ville
Le Mans Ville
Coordinates: 48°00′28″N 0°11′54″E / 48.0077°N 0.1984°E / 48.0077; 0.1984Coordinates: 48°00′28″N 0°11′54″E / 48.0077°N 0.1984°E / 48.0077; 0.1984
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Sarthe
Arrondissement Le Mansbourg
Intercommunality Le Mans
Government
 • Mayor (2001–2008) Jean-Claude Boulard
Area
 • Land1 52.81 km2 (20.39 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Population2 148,169
 • Population2 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 (pronounced: [lə mɑ̃]) 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. Since 1923, the city has hosted the internationally famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race.

History[edit]

Palais of Comtes du Maine, birthplace of Henry II of England (now part of the Town Hall and not open to the public)

First mentioned by Claudius 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), or Cenomanus. Their city, seized by the Romans in 47 BC, was within the ancient Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis. A 3rd-century amphitheatre is still visible. The thermae were demolished during the crisis of the third century when workers were mobilized to build the city's defensive walls. The ancient wall around Le Mans is one of the most complete circuits of Gallo-Roman city walls to survive.[citation needed]

Gallo-Roman walls
Organ in the cathedral

As the use of the French language replaced late Vulgar Latin in the area, Cenomanus, with dissimilation, became known as Celmans. Cel- was taken to be a form of the French word for "this" and "that", and was replaced by le, which means "the".

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 successfully invaded the island of England and established an occupation. In 1069 the citizens of Maine revolted and expelled the Normans, resulting in Hugh V being proclaimed count of Maine. Geoffrey V of Anjou married Matilda of England in the cathedral. Their son Henry II Plantagenet, king of England, was baptized here.[citation needed]

Because of its strategic location, this was a battleground in numerous conflicts, most recently, during the first and second world wars

World War II[edit]

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 of that year in additional offensives across France; the airfield was closed.[3][4]

Post World War II[edit]

Main sights[edit]

A street in the old town
Manhole cover depicting the city's coat-of-arms

Demographics[edit]

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)
Year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
Population 132,181 143,246 152,285 147,697 145,502 146,105 148,169

Economy[edit]

Transportation[edit]

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]

Motorsport[edit]

Dunlop Curve

Since the 1920s, the city has been best known for its connection with motorsports. There are two official and 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 and has hosted the French motorcycle Grand Prix. The longer and more famous Circuit de la Sarthe is composed partly of public roads. These are closed to the public when the track is in use for racing. Since 1923, this route has been used for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car endurance race.

The first French Grand Prix took place on a 64-mile (103 km) circuit based at Le Mans in 1906. The "Le Mans start" was formerly used in the 24-hour race: drivers lined up across the track from their cars, ran across the track, jumped into their cars and started them to begin the race. The 1955 Le Mans disaster was a large accident during the race that killed eighty-four spectators. Boutiques and shops are set up during the race, selling merchandise and promoting products for cars.

Basketball[edit]

Football[edit]

Cycling[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Le Mans was the birthplace of:

Notable residents include:

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Le Mans is twinned with:

Gastronomy[edit]

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

Landmarks[edit]

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

Panorama of Le Mans, facing north-west

Representation in popular culture[edit]

  • Le Mans has been a setting for numerous feature films that feature its famous race.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. 
  6. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  7. ^ Town Twinning, bolton.gov.uk, retrieved 22 January 2010 
  8. ^ officially since 1967, traditionally since 836 (oldest partnership of its kind).
  9. ^ Lelièvre, Jean; Balavoine, Maurice (1994). Le Mans-Paderborn, 836-1994: dans l'Europe, une amitié séculaire, un sillage de lumière. Le Mans: M. Balavoine. pp. 1–42. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Origins of Town Twinning". Inverness: The City of Inverness Town Twinning Committee. 8 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  11. ^ "Twinnings". Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 

External links[edit]