Flers, Orne

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Château de Flers
Château de Flers
Coat of arms of Flers
Coat of arms
Flers is located in France
Location within Normandy region
Flers is located in Normandy
Coordinates: 48°45′06″N 0°33′38″W / 48.7518°N 0.5605°W / 48.7518; -0.5605Coordinates: 48°45′06″N 0°33′38″W / 48.7518°N 0.5605°W / 48.7518; -0.5605
CantonFlers-1 and 2
IntercommunalityPays de Flers
 • Mayor (2001–2008) Yves Goasdoué
Area121.15 km2 (8.17 sq mi)
Population (2012)214,968
 • Density710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code61169 /61100
Elevation182–276 m (597–906 ft)
(avg. 189 m or 620 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.

Flers is a commune in the Orne department in Normandy, France.

The inhabitants are called Flériens.


Flers on the 18th century Cassini map

Flers is bordered to the north by the communes of Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers and Aubusson, to the north-east by Ronfeugerai, to the west by La Lande-Patry and Saint-Paul, to the south-west by La Chapelle-Biche, La Chapelle-au-Moine and Messei, and to the south-east by La Selle-la-Forge.

The commune is situated in the north-west of the Orne département, about ten kilometres from the border of the Calvados, an hour east of Granville, and two hours by train from Paris. It depends on a prefecture located an hour north in Caen.

The commune is crossed by the river Vère which ends in the river Noireau in Pont-Erembourg (commune of Saint-Denis-de-Méré).


Flers is part of the region that stretches from the Bocage to the Écouves forest, the wettest part of the Orne département, with relatively mild temperatures thanks to its proximity to the English Channel and the effect of the sea. It benefits from an oceanic climate with mild winters and temperate summers.[1]


The first written mentions of Flers appear at the end of the twelfth century as Flers (1164–1179) or Flex (1188–1221). Some authors think that the name of the town derives from the German toponym Hlaeri, meaning wasteland or common grazing land, while others suggest an origin in the German Fliessen, from the Dutch vliet or the Latin fluere Latin Fluere, indicating a waterflow, basin or marsh. Yet another etymology links Flers to the Latin flexus, meaning the bend in a road or river. Finally, the Breton term fler or flear means bad smell, indicating the stench of stagnant water. All etymologies seem to agree however that the town is named for its topography and the water close to it.[2]

Middle Ages[edit]

From the tenth century on, the de Flers family headed a barony. Tradition has it that in the 11th century, the two brothers Foulques d'Aunou and Guillaume de Gasprée married two sisters who were Ladies of Flers. Foulques d'Aunou received as his wedding gift Flers, seat of the barony.[3]

The construction of the castle of Flers began in the 12th century as a fortified location of wood and stone surrounded by water. The chronicles of the Hundred Years War do not mention a fortified place in Flers, revealing that it didn't present a major strategic interest at the time.

Construction of the castle[edit]

In 1790, in the revolutionary period, Flers formed a canton in the district of Domfront, in the Orne département.[4] The countess of Flers, Jacqueline Le Goué de Richemont, wife of Pierre-François de Paule de La Motte-Ango, supported the counter-revolutionary chouans. The castle of Flers became the headquarters of count Louis de Frotté, one of the leaders of the Normandic Chouannerie.[5]

Owners of the Flers domain
Year Owner
1901 The town buys the castle
1820–1901 Schnetz family
1806–1820 de Redern family
1736–1806 de La Motte-Ango family
1547–1736 de Pellevé family
1404–1547 de Grosparmy family
1396–1404 Guillaume de Tournebu
1320–1396 Robert III d'Harcourt
Robert IV d'Harcourt
Robert V d'Harcourt
1180–1320 Foulques d'Aunou
Thomas d'Aunou
10th to 12th century de Flers family

Industrial Revolution[edit]

In 1901, Julien Salles, mayor of Flers, bought the castle for the community.

World War II[edit]

Like other towns near the D-Day landing, Flers was one of the targets of strategic bombing of Normandy on 6 and 7 June 1944, aimed at reducing the advance of German reinforcements. 80% of the town was destroyed. What remained of the town was liberated on 16 August by the British 11th Armoured Division (United Kingdom)[6] and the memorial to the division is at Pont de Vère, north of Flers.


Arms of Flers
The arms of Flers are blazoned :
Gules, 2 shuttles in saltire Or, between 3 bobbins argent, a chief of France (Azure, 3 fleurs de lys Or.



Flers has a train station on the line Paris - Granville on the TER Basse-Normandie line 2. It has a local bus system for Flers and the surrounding communities, and departmental lines connecting it with other major towns in Orne and Calvados. Flers also has a small airstrip[9]

Monuments and interesting places[edit]

The castle, dating back to the 16th and 18th century, houses a museum of ancient and 19th century paintings and sculptures, applied art (furniture and decoration) and local history. Other interesting visits are the early 20th century neo-gothic Saint-Germain church and the 19th century neo-Romanesque Saint-Jean church, and the covered market built in 1883 on a former cemetery.[10]

Notable people[edit]

Born in Flers[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Climate of Orne on the site Météo France (in French)
  2. ^ Flers, Flers promotion, 1991 p. 9
  3. ^ À la découverte de Flers - Le château p84
  4. ^ Source : http://cassini.ehess.fr/cassini/fr/html/index.htm - Flers
  5. ^ À la découverte de Flers - Le château p. 24-25
  6. ^ "1944, la Bataille de Normandie, la Mémoire - Flers et Saint-Georges-des-Groseillers et Aubusson en Normandie 1944". Archived from the original on 22 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  7. ^ [url= http://cassini.ehess.fr/cassini/fr/html/fiche.php?select_resultat=13986 Notice communale - Flers ]
  8. ^ INSEE : Population depuis le recensement de 1962
  9. ^ Site of the Flers airstrip Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Le Marché couvert (La Halle)" [The covered market (the hall)] (in French). Office de tourisme du Pays de Flers. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.

External links[edit]

Official local sites