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Title: Alençon  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Normandy, Orelsan, Josef Wurmheller, Orne, Benoît Tréluyer
Collection: Communes of Orne, Prefectures in France
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Town hall
Town hall
Coat of arms of Alençon
Coat of arms
Alençon is located in France
Country France
Region Lower Normandy
Department Orne
Arrondissement Alençon
Intercommunality Alençon
 • Mayor (2008–2020) Joaquim Pueyo
Area1 10.68 km2 (4.12 sq mi)
Population (2012)2 26,305
 • Density 2,500/km2 (6,400/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 61001 / 61000
Elevation 127–152 m (417–499 ft)
(avg. 135 m or 443 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.

Alençon (French pronunciation: ​) is a commune in Normandy, France, capital of the Orne department. It is situated 173 kilometres (107 mi) west of Paris. Alençon belongs to the intercommunality of Alençon (with 52,000 people).


  • History 1
  • Climate 2
  • Population 3
    • Heraldry 3.1
  • Economy 4
  • Education 5
  • Transport 6
  • Personalities 7
  • International relations 8
    • Twin towns – sister cities 8.1
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The city of Alençon was probably founded in the fourth century by Alan soldiers.[1] The name is first seen in a document dated in the seventh century. During the tenth century, Alençon was a buffer state between Normandy and the Maine regions. In 1049-1051, William Duke of Normandy, later known as William the Conqueror and king of England, laid siege to the town, which had risen in support of the Count of Anjou along with two other towns of the Bellême estates, Domfront (then in Maine) and Bellême (held directly from King Henry I of France). According to Duke William's chaplain and panegyrist, William of Poitiers, the citizens insulted William by hanging animal skins from the walls, in reference to his ancestry as the illegitimate son of Duke Robert and a tanner's daughter. On capturing the town, William had a number of the citizens' hands and feet cut off in revenge. Alençon was occupied by the English during the Anglo-Norman wars of 1113 to 1203.

The city became the seat of a dukedom in 1415, belonging to the sons of the King of France until the French Revolution, and some of them played important roles in French history: see Duke of Alençon. The French Revolution caused relatively little disorder in this area although there were some royalist uprisings nearby.

A long-standing local fabric industry gave birth to the town's famous point d'Alençon lace in the 18th century. The economic development of the nineteenth century was based on iron foundries and mills in the surrounding region. In the first half of the twentieth century the city developed a flourishing printing industry.

Alençon was home to Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin[2] and Louis Martin,[3] the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.[4] They were the first spouses in the history of the Catholic Church to be proposed for sainthood as a couple, in 2008. Zélie and Louis were married at the Basilica[5] of Notre-Dame in Alençon on 12 July 1858 and spent their whole married life in Alençon, where Thérèse was born[6] in January 1873 and spent her early childhood until the death of her mother in 1877. [2]

On 17 June 1940 the German Army took occupation of Alençon. On 12 August 1944 Alençon was the first French city to be liberated by the French Army under General Leclerc, after minor bomb damage.

After the war the population sharply increased and new industries settled. Many of these were related to plastics and the town is now a major plastics educational centre.


Climate data for Alençon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 77.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 62.0 85.0 131.4 163.4 190.3 217.7 215.0 212.4 168.2 113.6 70.5 60.4 1,689.9
Source: Météo-France



Arms of Alençon
The arms of Alençon are blazoned :
Azure, a double-headed eagle displayed Or.


In the seventeenth century Alençon was chiefly noted for its lace called point d'Alençon.

Today, Alençon is home to a prosperous plastics industry, and, since 1993, to a plastics engineering school.

MPO Fenêtres is a local PVC windows company established in Alençon since 1970, is one of the first company in Alençon with around 170 employees (2009) and a turnover of 28 million euros in 2008. It is also the oldest French PVC windows company still in activity.






Alençon is linked by the A28 autoroute (motorway/freeway) with the nearby cities of Le Mans to the south (Sarthe) and Rouen (Haute-Normandie) to the north.

The A88 autoroute links the A28 just north of Alençon to the coastal port of Caen.

A comprehensive town bus system operates from 7:00 to 19:00.

There is a comprehensive network of cycle paths.


Alençon was the birthplace of:

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Alençon is twinned with:

See also


  • INSEE commune file
  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France) - Zelie Martin's life
  3. ^ a b Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France) - Louis Martin's life
  4. ^ a b Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France) - St. Therese's life
  5. ^ Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France) - The basilica of Notre Dame
  6. ^ Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France) - Alençon, the birthplace of St. Therese
  7. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 

External links

  • Official town website
  • Alençon Tourist Office
  • Shrine of Alençon : pilgrimage on the steps of St. Therese and her parents, the blessed Louis and Zelie Martin
  • Web site about the life, writings, spirituality, and mission of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, who was born in Alencon on 2 January 1873; information about the life of her family in Alencon and about pilgrimages to Alencon
  • Alencon's citizen portal
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