La Flèche

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La Flèche
La Fleche Townhall 2007 01.jpg
The town hall of La Flèche
Blason ville fr La Fleche (Sarthe).svg
Coat of arms
Location of La Flèche
France location map-Regions and departements-2016.svg
Red pog.svg
La Flèche
Pays de la Loire region location map.svg
Red pog.svg
La Flèche
Coordinates: 47°41′45″N0°04′29″W / 47.6959°N 0.0747°W / 47.6959; -0.0747 Coordinates: 47°41′45″N0°04′29″W / 47.6959°N 0.0747°W / 47.6959; -0.0747
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Sarthe
Arrondissement La Flèche
Canton La Flèche
Intercommunality Pays Fléchoi
  Mayor (20082014) Guy-Michel Chauveau
74.21 km2 (28.65 sq mi)
 (2016-01-01)2 [1]
  Density220/km2 (570/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
72154 /72200
Elevation23–103 m (75–338 ft)
(avg. 33 m or 108 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.

La Flèche (French pronunciation:  [laflɛʃ] ) is a town and commune in the French department of Sarthe, in the Pays de la Loire region in the Loire Valley. It is the sub-prefecture of the South-Sarthe, the chief district and the chief city of a canton, and the second most populous city of the department. The city is part of the Community of communes of the Pays La Flèche. The inhabitants of the town are called the La Flèchois. It is classified[ by whom? ] as a country of art and history.

The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy or ayuntamiento in Spain. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.

Sarthe Department of France

Sarthe is a department of Pays de la Loire situated in the Grand-Ouest of the country. It is named after the River Sarthe, which flows from east of Le Mans to just north of Angers.


The Prytanée National Militaire is located in La Flèche.

Prytanée National Militaire French military school

The Prytanée National Militaire, originally Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand or Collège Henri-IV de La Flèche, is a French military school managed by the French military, offering regular secondary education as well as special preparatory classes, equivalent in level to the first years of university, for students who wish to enter French military academies. The school is located in western France in the city of La Flèche. At first founded in 1604 by the King Henri IV the school was given to the Jesuits in the aim to "instruct the young people and make it fall in love of sciences, honor and virtue, in order to be able to serve". It then became the "Prytanée" wanted by Napoleon in 1800.


La Flèche is located on the Loir River and is also on the Greenwich Meridian. It is located halfway between Le Mans (45 km) and Angers.

Loir river in France

The Loir is a 317 km (197 mi) long river in western France. It is a left tributary of the Sarthe. Its source is in the Eure-et-Loir department, north of Illiers-Combray. It joins the river Sarthe in Briollay, north of the city of Angers.

Le Mans Prefecture and commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Le Mans is a city in France 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.

Angers Prefecture and commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Angers is a city in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) southwest of Paris. It is chef-lieu of the Maine-et-Loire department and was the capital of the province of Anjou until the French Revolution. The inhabitants of both the city and the province are called Angevins. Not including the metropolitan area, Angers is the third most populous commune in northwestern France after Nantes and Rennes and the 17th in France.

City communes

Neighboring municipalities

Le Loir a La Fleche Le Loir a La Fleche.JPG
Le Loir à La Flèche
Bazouges Cré sur Loir Commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Bazouges Cré sur Loir is a commune in the department of Sarthe, northwestern France. The municipality was established on 1 January 2017 by merger of the former communes of Bazouges-sur-le-Loir and Cré-sur-Loir.

Crosmières Commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Crosmières is a commune in the Sarthe department in the Pays de la Loire region in north-western France.

Villaines-sous-Malicorne Commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Villaines-sous-Malicorne is a commune in the Sarthe department in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire in north-western France.


College La Fleche (1695) Vue du College des Jesuites de La Fleche (Boudan, 1695).jpg
Collège La Flèche (1695)

The origin of the name La Flèche is uncertain; the word flèche means "arrow" in French. Historian Jacques Termeau, in La Flèche Book No. 9, p. 5-11, has documented several hypotheses which most likely are related to the ancient Latin name Fixa meaning "stuck", that is to say "rock stuck in the ground". In fact La Flèche was a city situated on the border of Maine and Anjou. An ancient megalith boundary would have given this the name Fixa that can be found in early manuscripts in full as Fixa andegavorum, often translated later as La Flèche in Anjou, but more precisely meaning the boundary of Anjou.

In the Middle Ages, La Flèche was a parish of the Diocese of Angers and as such formed an integral part of the province of Anjou and more specifically the Upper Anjou, also called Maine Angevine.

In 1343, salt became a state monopoly by order of King Philip VI of Valois, who established the Gabelle, the tax on salt. The Anjou was among the regions of "high salt tax" and contained sixteen special tribunals or "salt warehouses", including La Fleche.

Philip VI of France King of France

Philip VI, called the Fortunate and of Valois, was the first King of France from the House of Valois. He reigned from 1328 until his death.

La Flèche was at the head of Angevine seneschalship under the Old Regime: the Seneschal of La Flèche was dependent on the principal Seneschal of Angers.

The word seneschal can have several different meanings, all of which reflect certain types of supervising or administering in a historic context. Most commonly, a seneschal was a senior position filled by a court appointment within a royal, ducal, or noble household during the Middle Ages and early Modern period – historically a steward or majordomo of a medieval great house. In a medieval royal household, a seneschal was in charge of domestic arrangements and the administration of servants, which, in the medieval period particularly, meant the seneschal might oversee hundreds of laborers, servants and their associated responsibilities, and have a great deal of power in the community, at a time when the much of the local economy was often based around the wealth and responsibilities of such a household.

In 1603, Guillaume Fouquet de la Varenne, lord of La Flèche and then Sainte-Suzanne (Mayenne) and Angers, and a friend of Henry IV of France, contributed to the enhancement and diversification of functions of the Angevine city. Henry IV founded a college in which management was entrusted to the Jesuits. They were expelled in 1762 and the college became a "cadet school" in 1764, a pre-military academy of Paris.

Also in the seventeenth century, La Flèche, under the leadership of Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière, was involved in the founding of Montreal, Quebec.

In 1790, during the creation of the French departments, the entire northeastern part of the Anjou region, including La Flèche, Le Lude and Château-du-Loir, was attached to the new department of Sarthe.

On December 8, 1793, during the War in the Vendée, the city was stormed by the Vendéens at the battle of La Flèche.

In 1808, Napoleon built the military academy.

In 1866, the town of Sainte-Colombe was integrated with La Flèche.

On 1 January 1965, La Flèche absorbed the communes of Saint-Germain-du-Val and Verron.

Coat of arms

Blason ville fr La Fleche (Sarthe).svg Gules, an arrow in pale, the point upwards between two towers argent, a chief azure, three fleurs de lis or.

Urban environment and green spaces

Carmes' Park Buste de Jerome Royer de la Dauversiere La Fleche.JPG
Carmes' Park

La Flèche and the Loire Valley have been certified Cities and Regions of Art and History since 2006.

The Parc des Carmes in La Flèche has improved the quality of its flowers as part of the town's participation in French Villages and Towns in Bloom rankings, attaining a three flower rating since 1997.

The quality of garbage collection in the communes of the La Flèche region has been recognized through the 2007 'Qualitri label, a label of the ADEME, which is a first in Sarthe. The city has also put into service municipal vehicles running natural gas.

Since July 2008, La Flèche, in partnership with the town of Cré, has had a regional nature reserve, the first in the Sarthe. This preserves the alluvial marsh area and varied biodiversity present on the reserve that extends over 65 hectares.

Parc des Carmes, situated at the foot of the town hall, next to the old gardens of the château of Fouquet de la Varenne, allows visitors to explore and discover a few animals as well as an aviary. This park has some remarkable trees, including Araucaria and a young Ginkgo biloba ("the thousand crowns tree"). There is also a path from the park to the lakes of Monnerie, along the Loir, under the shade of the trees.


The La Flèche economy is organized as follows:

The print tradition is still alive in La Flèche with the factory Brodard and Taupin (group CPI), a leading European manufacturer of paperback books.


Population Growth [2] [3]
Demographic progression from 1793 to 2006
La Fleche

Local Gastronomy

La Fleche "Black Chicken" La Fleche close-up.jpg
La Flèche "Black Chicken"

The La Flèche breed of chicken from the towns of La Flèche and Malicorne-sur-Sarthe is known for its fine flesh, and once made the reputation of La Flèche.

Other regional specialties include macarons with lemon, violet or rose; the "Prytanéens" chocolate-flavored nougat with crushed praline, so named in reference to Prytanée National Militaire; and "Fiches", small confectionery formed of piles of dark chocolate, chocolate orange and finely crushed nougat. Jasnières 6 wine is produced with the Chenin blanc grown on the slopes of the Loire and Anjou and accompanies the tasting of potted meat or refined 2017

Notable people connected with the city

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

La Flèche is twinned with:

Monuments and historical buildings

Civil Heritage

Prytanée National Militaire

Prytanee National Militaire Portail prytanee.jpg
Prytanée National Militaire

During the 16th century, Françoise, duchess of Alençon, and grandmother to the future Henry IV established a castle in La Flèche, where Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre, and his wife Jeanne d'Albret, future parents of Henry IV, resided in 1552. The castle was given to the Jesuits by Henri IV in 1604 to found the "Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand", in order "to select and train the best minds of the time".

In 1764 following the expulsion of the Jesuits the school was transformed by Louis XV and Choiseul into a military institution designed to train young cadets for admission to the École Militaire. The buildings now accommodate one of six military schools in France. The buildings are arranged around three courtyards which are dominated by the imposing stature of the Church of St. Louis (1607). The work followed a plan developed by Louis Métezeau with a row of courtyards roughly the same size. The architect was Étienne Martellange. The work was completed in 1655 with the construction of the gate of honour with the pediment and the bust of Henri IV.

Château des Carmelites

The castle, now the City Hall, was originally the mid-eleventh-century fortress that defended the river crossing. Jean de Beaugency and his son Hélie, the future Count of Maine, expanded and strengthened it towards the end of the eleventh century. It was a wooden fortress sitting on an island and spanning two neighboring islands, and was the subject of several sieges in the twelfth century to the fifteenth century. The castle was rebuilt in 1450, and the ruins of the keep of this period are still standing, with marks left by arrows on the drawbridge and battlements.

In the seventeenth century, Louis XIII donated it to the Carmelites who had established and transformed the city. The main building and cloister date from this period. During the Revolution, it became private property of the family Bertron Auger who transformed it again. Having become mayor in 1909, he was the victim of a fire in 1919. It was rebuilt with a different style in the years that followed. The castle is now part of the wedding hall of the town of La Flèche, and has two temporary exhibition rooms.

La Flèche Zoo

Zoological Park of La Fleche OursBlanc Zoo de La Fleche.jpg
Zoological Park of La Flèche

Created in 1946 by Jacques Bouillault, a naturalist, it is the oldest private park in France. It includes 1,200 animals of 150 species on 14 hectares (35 acres). This is the premiere tourist destination of the department of Sarthe, with over 300,000 entries per year. The zoo has participated in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) since 1989. Many new exhibits are added every year. In 2008 the zoo showed the extremely rare white lions of Kruger, of which there are only 200 specimens in the world.

The Pavilion Fouquet de la Varenne

Pavillon Fouquet de La Varenne La Fleche Pavillon Fouquet de La Varenne La Fleche.JPG
Pavillon Fouquet de La Varenne La Flèche

Fouquet de la Varenne Pavilion is in downtown La Flèche. The Pavilion was built in the early seventeenth century. The exterior of the Pavilion may be seen throughout the year; however it is open to visitors only on certain occasions. This pavilion is the only building remaining of the ancient castle of La Flèche.

The Bruere mill

Nestled in the hollow of the Loir, the mill of the Bruere allows visitors to discover how the force of the river powers a mechanism via a large wheel, producing flour, electricity and refreshing ice blocks. This is the last mill in France to produce ice.

Lakes of La Monnerie

These vast bodies of water of some fifty hectares are equipped with a bathing area that combines water recreation, fitness and nature discovery. The site of the Monnerie is a mosaic of lakes and meadows situated in a bend of the Loire with a rich biodiversity. Many animal and plant species coexist in these places: herons, reed warbler, coot, hare, ermine, green frog, frog, dragonfly, snail, reed, iris, water crowfoot, and water-plantain make this site a popular place for walkers and naturalists. The preservation of these wetlands helps maintain biodiversity. The lakes are the result of the operation of a gravel pit, and wet meadows. Each winter, over thirty migratory species (e.g. greylag goose, pochard, teal) find shelter here.

The hall and the theater of the Halle au Blé (nicknamed "The Candy Box")

In the Middle Ages there was already a wooden market hall, while the square held the grain market. The halls were rebuilt twice in the eighteenth century. In 1737, they were built of stone and then expanded in 1772 to establish the town hall. Closed to the public since 1947, it was restored to "authenticity" in 1998 and was recently renamed as the site of the Corn Exchange. This was rewarded in 2000 by the Rubans du Patrimoine.

In 1839, a small Italian theater was added to the first floor. The architect who drew up the plans for the "little theater" was Pierre-Félix Delarue, who also designed many castles in the region in the second half of the nineteenth century. This is his best-known building of La Flèche in the sub-prefecture. The decoration of the room and its dome were planned by Adrien-Louis Lusson, an architect and designer, born in La Fleche in August 4, 1788. He entrusted the work to decorative painters for the Royal Academy of Music. This theater has retained much of its original decor, except for the paintings of the false dome, redesigned in 1923.

Since March 1999, performances in the cultural season are scheduled by the Entertainment and Arts Carroi. This rare Italian-French structure is open to public tours during the Heritage Days and the summer season. For groups, the tourist office of the La Flèche Region organizes tours.

The museum and chapel of Providence

Discovery of the personal effects of Françoise Jamin, founder in the early nineteenth century of the Institute of the Daughters of Saint-Cœur de Marie, told the story of Providence. The chancel and chapel are a unique in the region, with murals of the nineteenth century.

The manor of Blottière

Dates from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is a former hunting manor of William Fouquet de la Varenne. It can be visited only during the summer.

Former Hotel Dieu in La Flèche

In the Museum of the Hospitallers of Hôtel-Dieu de Montreal, her namesake city, stands the ancient steps of the Hotel-Dieu in La Flèche. Jérôme Le Royer, lord of La Dauversière, installed the first sisters in the hospital "Maison Dieu" of La Flèche in 1636. In 1641, he entrusted the task to Jeanne Mance to build a hospital in New France, in Ville-Marie. In 1659, she returned to France with the first three sister carers for Ville-Marie. A century and a half later, during the French Revolution, the nuns were expelled from La Flèche. The place was then converted into police station, court and prison.

The staircase of the Hotel Dieu was walled in and forgotten. Only during the demolition and restoration of the old prison in 1953 was the oak staircase rediscovered. The town of La Flèche offered it to Montreal as a symbol of the long alliance between the two cities. Over 300 years after the arrival of the sisters in Montreal, the staircase resides in the lobby of the museum of the Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu de Montreal. The Hotel-Dieu itself is no longer visible today, separated from the former police station, having been turned into housing, and the present court. The old prisons disappeared as they were subsumed into it.

Former prisons

The first prisons were located in La Flèche, in the Marché-au-Blé, next to the Présidial, created in 1595 by Henri IV. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they were moved to the bottom of the dead-end street, St. Thomas, on the premises that had been those of the priory of the same name.

The unhealthy state of the prisons was denounced August 7, 1807 by Rocher Desperrés, a board member, who was concerned about the detention conditions of detainees. Half a century later, the prisoners were again entitled to complain as they were deprived of water because of the erection of the statue of Henri IV, in Pillory Square, which had involved the removal of water pipes. As no one passed the budget at the town hall, the prisoners remained in this state for several years.

On May 30, 1933, a presidential decree abolished 14 prisons including that of La Flèche. On June 16 of that year, prisoners were transferred to Le Mans. Between 1937 and 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, the old prison was occupied at various times by Spanish refugees (men, women and children). World War II led to the reopening of the prison to hold political prisoners. The prison was finally abolished in 1953. The door of the priory, in the middle of the dead end street, Saint-Thomas, was removed in early 1958.

Religious heritage

La Fleche, Eglise St Louis (du college jesuite) La Fleche, Eglise St Louis (du college jesuite).JPG
La Flèche, Eglise St Louis (du collège jésuite)

La Flèche has six major religious buildings:

  • The Church of St. Thomas (early twelfth century and rebuilt in the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries), the main church of the city;
  • The Church of Sainte-Colombe, freely accessible;
  • The Church of St. Germain du Val (eleventh and twelfth centuries), freely accessible;
  • Church Verron, freely accessible;
  • Chapel of Our Lady of Virtues (no celebrations, but open to the public) is the oldest religious building in the city (Roman times);
  • The Church of St. Louis is located within the confines of the Prytanée National Militaire.

See also

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  1. "Populations légales 2016". INSEE . Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. "Notice communale - La Flèche" . Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  3. Insee : historique des populations par commune depuis le recensement de 1962
  4. " - Ville de La Flèche" . Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  5. "British towns twinned with French towns [via]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
The location of La Flèche-(Distances in kilometers by road and Great circle route)