Le Mans, France, an industrial city and the capital of Sarthe department, on the Sarthe River, about 110 miles (177 km) southwest of Paris. It is a regional road and rail center. Le Mans has several museums and numerous historic buildings. Remnants of the fourth-century town walls still stand. The city is probably best known for the 24-hour Le Mans Grand Prix automobile endurance race, held each June.
Originally a Gallic settlement, Le Mans passed under a succession of early rulers, including the Romans, Franks, Normans, and English. English control ended in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), during which Le Mans was besieged five times. A French defeat by the Germans occurred at Le Mans in 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War. In 1955, 82 persons were killed in one of the worst accidents in auto racing history.