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Le Mans

Le Mans is a city in France, located at the Sarthe River. It is the préfecture (capital) of the Sarthe département.


First mentioned by Ptolemy (GEography 2.8.8), the Roman city Vindinium was the capital of the Aulerci, a client tribe of the Aedui. Their city lay in the territory of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis. An amphitheatre built in the 3rd century CE is still visible.

Gregory of Tours mentions a Frankish sub-king Rigomer, who was killed by Clovis in his campaign to unite the Frankish territories.

As the principal city of Maine, Le Mans was the stage for struggles in the 11th century between the counts of Anjou and the dukes of Normandy. When the Normans had control of Maine, this allowed William the Conqueror to successfully invade England; however in 1069 the citizens revolted and expelled the Normans, which led to Hugh V being proclaimed count of Maine.

During World War II, Le Mans was captured by the US 5th Armored Division on August 8, 1944 following their breakout from the Normandy beachheads.


Le Mans has a well-preserved old town (Vieux Mans) and a cathedral: Cathedrale St-Julien .


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 the Bugatti car company), a relatively short permanent circuit which is used for racing throughout the year. The longer and more famous Le Mans 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.

The culinary specialty of Le Mans is the rillettes.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 05:43:52
Last updated: 02-18-2005 13:56:17