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Wappen von Alençon
Alençon (Frankreich)
Region Normandy
Department (No) Orne (Prefecture) (61)
Arrondissement Alençon
Canton Alençon-1 (main town)
Alençon-2 (main town)
Community association Alençon
Coordinates 48° 26′ N, 0°6′ ECoordinates 48° 26′ N, 0°6′ O
Height 127–152 m
Area 10,77 km²
Inhabitants 25.775 (January 1, 2018)
Population density 2.393 inhabitants/km²
Postal code 61000
INSEE code

City Hall of the city

Alençon is the capital and also the largest city in the Orne department in the Normandy region of France, with 25,775 inhabitants as of 1 January 2018. Alençon is an access commune associated with the Normandy-Maine Regional Natural Park.[1]

Some French kings bore the title Duke of Alençon, as this title was given to the king’s third-born son after 1549.


The Briante in Alençon

Alençon is located in northern France on the southern edge of the Orne department in the Campagne d’Alençon countryside, named after the town, about 90 kilometres southeast of Caen, the capital of the Lower Normandy region, and 48 kilometres north of Le Mans at an average altitude of 140 metres above sea level. The mairie stands at an altitude of 136 metres. Neighbouring communes of Alençon are Damigny to the northwest, Saint-Paterne – Le Chevain to the east and southeast, and Saint-Germain-du-Corbéis to the southwest. The commune covers an area of 1068 hectares. Alençon is located on the Sarthe and the Briante, a tributary of the Sarthe.[2]

The municipality is assigned to a climate zone of the type Cfb (according to Köppen and Geiger): Warm temperate rainy climate (C), fully humid (f), warmest month below 22 °C, at least four months above 10 °C (b). Sea climate with temperate summer prevails.[1]


Lace from Alençon from the 18th century, here the techniques point d’Argentan and point d’Alençon were mixed.

In Gallo-Roman times, Alençon was only a ford across the Sarthe. As a fortified market town, Alençon is first mentioned in documents in the 11th century. The town grew, became a county and, at the beginning of the 15th century, a duchy. In the 16th century, Margaret of Navarre influenced the life of the town. She promoted the Reformation and some inhabitants professed Calvinism early on.

In 1665, a royal lace manufactory was founded, whose point d’Alençon, as the particular way of making lace was called, was kept secret. In 2010, the point d’Alençon was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.[3]

In 1793, Alençon obtained the status of commune during the French Revolution (1789-1799), and in 1801, the right to local self-government through the administrative reform in the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821).[4]

During the Second World War (1939-1945), Alençon was occupied by the German Wehrmacht (see also Alençon-Valframbert airfield). On 12 August 1944, the town was liberated by the 2e division blindée under Major General Leclerc.

Population development[4]
Year 1793 1851 1901 1931 1954 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2009
Inhabitants 12.954 14.760 17.270 16.688 21.893 25.584 31.656 33.680 31.608 29.988 28.935 27.325

The city had its highest population in 1975.


Alençon is the seat of the Communauté urbaine d’Alençon,[5] the prefecture of the département, the sub-prefecture of the arrondissement, and the capital of three cantons.

Twin Cities

  • Quakenbrück (Germany)
  • Koutiala (Mali)
  • Basingstoke (England)

Culture and sights

The Gothic basilica of Notre-Dame d’Alençon stands in the city centre. Honoré Balzac set his novel “The Old Maid” from the cycle of works “Nebenbuhler” in Alençon, giving an impression of a French provincial town around 1830, a time when republicans and royalists were at enmity with each other

The former Jesuit College now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle.

Economy and infrastructure

Alençon train station

Alençon is a location of textile and electrical industry.

There are three lycées, six vocational schools, six collèges, and several private and public primary schools in Alençon. The town has a railway station and an Alençon-Valframbert airfield used for tourism and sport[1].

Local products

Controlled designations of origin (AOC) for Maine Anjou beef and protected geographical indications (PGI) for beef of the designation Bœuf du Maine, pork (Porc de Normandie), poultry ( Volailles du Maine, de Loué and de Normandie), chicken eggs (Œufs de Loué ) and Cidre de Normandie or normand are in force in the commune.[1]


Sons and daughters of the city

Birthplace of Therese of Lisieux

  • Pierre Allix (1641-1717), reformed clergyman
  • Marthe de Roucoulle (1659-1741), educator of Frederick the Great
  • Léonard Bourdon (1754-1807), politician, President of the National Assembly of 1789
  • Jacques Julien Houton de Labillardière (1755-1834), naturalist and traveller
  • Jacques-René Hébert (1757-1794), publicist, radical revolutionary and church opponent, executed
  • Marie Anne Lenormand (1772-1843), fortune teller
  • Celine Martin (1869-1959), Carmelite nun
  • Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), Carmelite nun, canonized in 1925
  • Louise Hervieu (1878-1954), painter and writer[6][7]
  • André Couder (1897-1979), astronomer, inventor of the Coudron telescope
  • Guy Renaudin (1918-2002), track cyclist
  • Daniel Balavoine (1952-1986), singer
  • Anne Consigny (* 1963), actress
  • Laurence Leboucher (* 1972), cyclist
  • Abraham Poincheval (* 1972), performance artist
  • Lorànt Deutsch (* 1975), actor and writer
  • Benoît Tréluyer (* 1976), racing driver
  • Jonathan Cochet (* 1977), racing driver
  • Anthony Geslin (* 1980), cyclist
  • Arnold Mvuemba (* 1985), footballer
  • Agnès Raharolahy (* 1992), track and field athlete
  • Marc Fournier (* 1994), cyclist
  • Rémy Vita (* 2001), football player

Personalities who have worked here

  • Margaret of Navarre (1492-1549), the elder sister of the French King Francis I, married Charles IV, Duke of Alençon, and lived in Alençon from 1509 to 1514 and 1519 to 1525.[8]

Web links

Commons: Alençon– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. a b c d La ville d’Alençon.In: Retrieved 5 March 2013 (French).
  2. la Sarthe at SANDRE (French)
  3. Craftsmanship of Alençon needle lace-making.In: UNESCO, retrieved 5 March 2013.
  4. a b Alençon – notice communal.In: Retrieved 5 March 2013 (French).
  5. Communauté urbaine d’Alençon.In: Joaquin Pueyo, Catherine Bescond, retrieved 5 March 2013 (French).
  6. Louise Hervieu.In: Base Joconde. Ministère de la culture, retrieved 9 August 2010 (French).
  7. Isabelle Cernetic, Marie-Sophie de Sairigné, Collectif, Charlotte Rousselle, Céline Dutheil: Le Petit Futé Normandie. 12. Edition. Petit Futé, 2009, ISBN 978-2-7469-2391-1, p. 358 (inGoogle Books [accessed 9 August 2010]). French)
  8. Yves Lecouturier: Célèbres de Normandie. Orep Editions, 2007, ISBN 978-2-915762-13-6, p. 45. French)