|Top left: Le Mans 24 hours automobile race in June, Top right: Le Mans Justice Department Office, Middle: View of Sarte River and historic area, include in Palais of Comtes du Maine, Bottom left: Le Mans Tramway in Gambetta Street, Bottom center: Facade built in Le Mans Commerce Center, Bottom left: Saint Julien Cathedral|
|Region||Pays de la Loire|
|Elevation||38–134 m (125–440 ft)
(avg. 51 m or 167 ft)
|Land area1||52.81 km2 (20.39 sq mi)|
|- Density||2,806 /km2 (7,270 /sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||72181/ 72000|
|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 Claudius Ptolemy, 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.
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, 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.
Post World War II
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- 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 walls 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 archaeological collections as well as decorative arts.
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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.
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" 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.
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, born 1799, a priest of Le Mans founded the Congregation of Holy Cross. Beatified in Le Mans 2007.
- Christine and Lea Papin, 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.
- Emmanuel Moire, born 1979, French singer
- Sébastien Bourdais, born 1979, racecar driver
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, born 1985, professional tennis player.
- Guillaume Loriot footballer
- Leslie, born 4 February 1985, French singer
Among other personalities who lived there :
- 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
Twin towns – Sister cities
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Le Mans is twinned with:
- Bolton, England, United Kingdom
- Haouza, Western Sahara
- Paderborn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany—officially since 1967, traditionally since 836 (oldest partnership of its kind in Europe).
- Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia
- Suzuka, Japan
- Volos, Greece
- Xianyang, Shaanxi, China
- Amasya, Amasya, Turkey
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.
- Geography 2.8.8
- Blumenson, Martin, Breakout and Pursuit, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 436–8
- 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.
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- "Le Mans light rail takes off". Railway Gazette International. 6 January 2008.
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- Official website (French)