Taking its name from the River Sarthe, the département was created in 1790 following the French Revolution. Today it forms part of the region Pays-de-la-Loire. Where it flows through Le Mans, the river is rather constrained; but elsewhere, northwards to its source near Alençon, it is flanked by beautiful countryside draped with trees and bright in summer with sunflowers. It runs from 250km (155 miles ) from its source in the Orne département to Maine.
The département comprises six separate mini-regions, each with their own characteristics – Pay du Mans lies at the centre; to the east the Pays du Perche Sarthois. Continuing anti-clockwise there is the Pays d’Alençon, la Haute Sarthe, Vallée de la Sarthe and, in the south, the vallée du Loir.
The department has a population in excess of half a million, spread across an area that is largely agricultural. Soft undulating landforms ripple away to the horizons in what must be one of France’s least well-known counties.
Sarthe is south of Normandy and on the southern edge of the Armorican Massif. It is bordered by the departments of Orne, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire and Mayenne. The capital of the department is Le Mans, famed for its motoring racing, and as the founding place of the Plantagenet Dynasty.
Agence départementale de
développement économique et touristique de la Sarthe
31 rue Edgar Brandt, ZA Monthéard, 72000 LE MANS
Tel: 02 43 40 22 50