Sarthe (French pronunciation: [saʁt]) 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.
Prefecture building of the Sarthe department, in Le Mans
Location of Sarthe in France
|Region||Pays de la Loire|
|• President of the General Council||Roland du Luart|
|• Total||6,206 km2 (2,396 sq mi)|
|• Density||91/km2 (240/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2|
In the late 18th century, before it was officially Sarthe, the nobility built their Mansions and Chateaus there, as an escape from Paris.
The department was created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790, pursuant to the law of 22 December 1789, starting from a part of the province of Maine. The latter 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 standing. The Roman Thermal Bathhouse attracts many tourists, as does the Theater of Aubigné-Racan, both located on the outskirts of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine.
Marin Mersenne, perhaps the most important scientific figure in the early 17th century, was born in the vicinity of Sarthe.
The department of Sarthe is at the north end of the administrative region of Pays-de-la-Loire. It 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.
Approximately 300,000 people, comprising more than half of the department's population, live in Le Mans, its conurbation, or the essentially urban communes close by. The rest of the department retains a rural character, with agriculture as the chief part of the economy.