Sarthe is a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 department, named after the Sarthe River
Sarthe River
The Sarthe is a river in western France. Together with the river Mayenne it forms the river Maine, which is a tributary to the river Loire.Its source is in the Orne département, near Moulins-la-Marche...



The department was created during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 on March 4, 1790, pursuant to the law of December 22, 1789, starting from a part of the province
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

 of Maine which was divided into two departments, Sarthe to the east and Mayenne to the west.

In Roman Times, this province contained the city of Mans, and many of its ruins are still left standing. The Thermal Bathhouse attracts many tourists, as does the Theater of Aubigné-Racan
Aubigné-Racan is a commune in the Sarthe department in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire in north-western France.-Sights:The town has a Romanesque church from the 11th century....

, both located on the outskirts of Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

, Maine, and Touraine
The Touraine is one of the traditional provinces of France. Its capital was Tours. During the political reorganization of French territory in 1790, the Touraine was divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, :Loir-et-Cher and Indre.-Geography:...


Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus or le Père Mersenne was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist, often referred to as the "father of acoustics"...

, perhaps the most important scientific figure in the early 1600s, was born in the vicinity of Sarthe.


The department of Sarthe is at the north end of the administrative region
Régions of France
France is divided into 27 administrative regions , 22 of which are in Metropolitan France, and five of which are overseas. Corsica is a territorial collectivity , but is considered a region in mainstream usage, and is even shown as such on the INSEE website...

 of Pays-de-la-Loire. This places it south of Basse-Normandie
Lower Normandy is an administrative region of France. It was created in 1956, when the Normandy region was divided into Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy...

 and on the south edge of the Armorican Massif
Armorican Massif
The Armorican Massif is a geologic massif that covers a large area in the northwest of France, including Brittany, the western part of Normandy and the Pays de la Loire. Its name comes from the old Armorica, a Gaul area between the Loire and the Seine rivers...

. It is bordered by the departments of Orne
Orne is a department in the northwest of France, named after the river Orne.- History :Orne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution, on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Normandy and Perche.- Geography :Orne is in the region of...

, Eure-et-Loir
Eure-et-Loir is a French department, named after the Eure and Loir rivers.-History:Eure-et-Loir is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790 pursuant to the Act of December 22, 1789...

, Loir-et-Cher
Loir-et-Cher is a département in north-central France named after the rivers Loir and Cher.-History:Loir-et-Cher is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Orléanais and...

, Indre-et-Loire
Indre-et-Loire is a department in west-central France named after the Indre and the Loire rivers.-History:Indre-et-Loire is one of the original 83 départements created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790...

, Maine-et-Loire
Maine-et-Loire is a department in west-central France, in the Pays de la Loire region.- History :Maine-et-Loire is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. Originally it was called Mayenne-et-Loire, but its name was changed to Maine-et-Loire in 1791....

 and Mayenne
Mayenne is a department in northwest France named after the Mayenne River.-History:Mayenne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. The northern two thirds correspond to the western part of the former province of Maine...


Approximately 300,000 people, comprising more than half of the department's population, live in Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans 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...

, its conurbation or the essentially urban communes close by. The rest of the department retains its rural character, however, being dominated economically by agriculture.

The economy, especially in the Le Mans area, received a boost with the arrival of the railways in 1854 and of a TGV
The TGV is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator....

 connection in 1989. In terms of road connections the A11 autoroute
A11 autoroute
The A11 autoroute is a motorway which connects Paris with Nantes via Le Mans and Angers. It is called L'Océane .- Regions crossed :The following list indexes the sites worth visiting within 14 km of the road.* Paris* Chartres* Le Mans...

, which reached Le Mans from the east
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in 1978, also highlights Sarthe's strategic position as the gateway to the French west.

See also

  • Cantons of the Sarthe department
  • Communes of the Sarthe department
  • Arrondissements of the Sarthe department
  • Circuit de la Sarthe
    Circuit de la Sarthe
    The Circuit des 24 Heures, also known as Circuit de la Sarthe, located near Le Mans, France, is a semi-permanent race course most famous as the venue for the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. The track uses local roads that remain open to the public most of the year...

     Race circuit for car races
  • Circuit de la Sarthe (cycling)
    Circuit de la Sarthe (cycling)
    The Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire is an early-season short road bicycle racing stage race held annually in Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, France. Since 2005, it has been organised as a 2.1 event on the UCI Europe Tour....

    Annual road cycling race

External links

Prefecture General Council Sarthe information Sarthe on Wikitravel
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