A view of Saint-Lô from the Notre-Dame church
|Canton||Saint-Lô-1 and 2|
|o Mayor (2014-2020)||François Brière (DVD)|
|23.19 km2 (8.95 sq mi)|
|o Density||870/km2 (2,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||7-134 m (23-440 ft) |
(avg. 14 m or 46 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
The commune has 18,931 inhabitants[Note 1] who are called Saint-Lois(es). The names of Laudois(es), Laudien(ne)s or Laudinien(ne)s are also cited. A martyr city of World War II, Saint-Lô was decorated with the Legion of Honour in 1948 and was given the nickname "Capital of the Ruins", a phrase popularised by Samuel Beckett.
The city was born under the name of Briovera on a rocky outcrop of schist belonging to the Armorican Massif, in the Cotentin Peninsula, between the confluences of the Vire - which dominates the city centre - with the Dollée and Torteron, two rivers channelled in their urban sections. This historic heart of the city became L'Enclos, a site well suited to passive defence.
The east of the territory is the former commune of Sainte-Croix-de-Saint-Lô, south of Saint-Thomas-de-Saint-Lô, absorbed in 1964.
Saint-Lô has a mild oceanic climate characterised by mild winters and temperate summers. It has an average annual rainfall of 800 to 900 mm (31 to 35 in) per year. Rainfall is quite frequent throughout the year but most abundant in autumn and winter, in connection with the disturbances coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Rarely intense, they often fall in the form of drizzle. The average temperature is 10 °C (50 °F). In winter, the average temperature ranges between 1 and 7 °C (34 and 45 °F). There are between 30 and 40 days of frost per year. In summer, the average temperature lies around 20 °C (68 °F).
Saint-Lô is located in the centre of the department of Manche and is therefore a node of communication between Nord-Cotentin and southern Manche.
Saint-Lô lies halfway along the Coutances-Bayeux axis (RD 972). A bypass road was commissioned in the 1980s to allow the decongestion of the city from the south. To open up the port of Cherbourg, the region and the department decided the construction of a dual carriageway, RN 174. It is a part of the European route E03 and enables direct connection to Rennes and Europe from the south, through the interchange at Guilberville. The southern section now connects Saint-Lô directly to the A84 autoroute, allowing motorway access to Caen and Rennes. The commissioning of the northern section, which is currently under construction, will meanwhile allow access to Cherbourg and England via the Route nationale 13. The construction of the dual carriageway allowed the extension of the small South ring road heading west and its mutation into genuine urban bypass. It has also enabled the creation and expansion of new business zones which contribute strongly to the current growth of the agglomeration.
The Gare de Saint-Lô is served by TER trains on the Caen - Rennes railway line. It is in the majority of services for travellers in the direction of Caen via Lison or in the direction of Coutances. A few trains, two daily return trips, serve as far as Rennes via Avranches.
Following the electrification of the section of railway between Lison and Saint-Lô during 2006, the SNCF and local communities experienced a direct Intercités service (without change of train) to the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris for two years, between December 2008 and December 2010. This service was not sustained due to a lack a sufficient number of passengers. There is also the disused former industrial line to Condé-sur-Vire. The section between Gourfaleur and Condé-sur-Vire, adjacent to the towpath along the Vire, is used by the Vélorail [rail cycle] of the Vire valley since 2007.
Urban transportation is provided by the Transports Urbains Saint-Lô Agglomération: TUSA (formerly Transport Urbains Saint-Lô Agneaux), was created in 1980. In 2010, the network consisted of four lines (Odyssée, Azur, Horizon and Alizé) with 15 buses and one Ocitolà transport on demand minibus. However, since 3 January 2011, it is composed of three lines (1, 2 and 3) still with 15 buses and one Ocitolà transport on demand minibus. In 2008, the company recorded more than 850,000 journeys.
On 15 May 2013, seven new vehicles were integrated with the fleet, namely five Vehixel Cytios 4/44, and two Mercedes-Benz Citaro K BHNS. The total fleet is composed of a Renault Master B.20 (for the Ocitolà transport on demand), 5 Vehixel Cytios 4/44, 2 Mercedes-Benz Citaro K BHNS, two Van Hool A320, five Heuliez GX 317, and a Heuliez GX 327.
A new vehicle wrapping campaign is underway,[when?] the yellow livery will disappear in favour of a red livery. Added to this, a campaign of improving vehicle facilities, to meet the new standards of accessibility of public transit, including on-board announcements and scrolling banners. The old Renault PR 100.2 (nos. 97205, 97207 to 97210) and Renault PR112 (nos. 97211 and 97212) were scrapped.
|1||Saint-Lô-Colombes <> Agneaux-Villechien / La Demeurance Commercial Centre||Pasteur College, Manche Habitat, City Hall, SNCF railway station,
CFA d'Agneaux, private establishment of the institute, Commercial Centre
|2||Saint-Lô-Conseil Général <> Saint-Lô-La Madeleine||Hospital, Lavalley College, SNCF railway station, City Hall,
Cultural Centre, Sainte Croix Church, Commercial Centre, St. Jean Clinic, TUSA depot
|3||Saint-Lô-Bois Ardent / Aquatic Centre <> Saint-Georges-Montcocq-Mairie||Chevalerie business park, Commercial Centre, Corot & Curie schools, Bon Sauveur, SNCF railway station,
City Hall, the Mont Russel Lift, Social Security, La Dollée quarter, Saint-Georges church, Saint-Georges town hall
Transport on demand for the whole of the community of communes
|Baudre town hall, Pont-Hébert town hall, La Meauffe-Quartier du Pont,
Rampan town hall, Ste-Suzanne town hall
The commune is associated with the departmental public buses (Manéo) by the lines:
Despite its status of prefecture, there is no airfield in the vicinity of the town. The nearest is that of Lessay, and for an airport, to join that of Caen-Carpiquet, Cherbourg-Maupertus or Rennes - Saint-Jacques.
Saint-Lô has long been an important centre of the economy of Normandy. It has attracted the covetousness of neighboring nations, including England, resulting in many successive invasions. It lost its dominant position towards the end of the 19th century because it failed to take advantage of the first Industrial Revolution, which instead affected much of the predominantly peasant population. However, the decentralisation policy allowed the city to return to the foreground.
Originally called Briovère (meaning "Bridge on the Vire River" in Gaulish), the town is built on and around ramparts. The town started life as a Gallic fortified settlement, occupied by the tribe of the Unelli of Cotentin. Briovere was conquered by the Romans led by Quintus Titurius Sabinus in 56 BC, after the defeat of their leader Viridovix at Mont Castre. Roman peace led the development of Gallo-Roman rural areas, on the model of the Roman villae rusticae as in Canisy, Marigny and Tessy-sur-Vire, whose names are based on the suffix -i-acum, of location of Celtic origin *-i-?ko-, and often composed with a Latin personal name, carried by a Gallo-Roman native. Then, the region was the scene of various Saxon invasions during the 3rd century. The Franks didn't establish an administrative power there, although Briovera was nevertheless entitled to hammer coinage. Historian Claude Fauchet said, "the Coutentin, at the same time as our Merovingian kings, was inhabited by the Sesnes (Saxons), pirates, and seems to have been abandoned by Carolingians, as variable and too remote for correction by our kings, to the Normans and other plunderers of sea..."
Sainte-Croix Church was built in 300, said to be on the ruins of a temple of Ceres. Christianity grew quite late. There were only four bishops of Coutances before 511. Laud of Coutances, bishop in 525-565, had a residence here. After his death he was beatified and was particularly honoured by Briovera, which would have housed his tomb. A pilgrimage was conducted and the city took the name of Saint-Laud, and then the name Saint-Lô which has been known since the 8th century.
The Bretons, led by King Salomon, began to occupy the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula from 836. Before their advances, in August 867, Charles the Bald gave Salomon the Comitatus Constantiensis, territory over which he had little influence. In 889, the Vikings travelled up the Vire and besieged Saint-Lô. Protected by solid ramparts built, according to tradition, in the early 9th century by Charlemagne, the town did not initially surrender. The attackers then cut the water supply, resulting in the surrender of the inhabitants. The Vikings massacred the inhabitants, including the Bishop of Coutances, and then razed the town. The seat of the diocese moved to Rouen. It was only in 1025 that Bishop Herbert decided to return to the walls of Saint-Lô and restore the episcopal see. Then, under Geoffrey de Montbray, the town had a great economic development, taking advantage of the Norman expedition in Sicily. Robert Guiscard, a close associate of Geoffrey, brought important loot to Apulia and Calabria, and it was thanks to this treasure that Geoffrey was able to rebuild Coutances Cathedral in 1056. Saint-Lô is famous for its goldsmiths and even Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, ordered two candelabra for the Abbaye aux Dames.
The population of the region participated in the conquest of England. Henry I, Count of Cotentin and since then King of England strengthened Saint-Lô in 1090. In 1091, Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances, had a lock and mills built on the River Vire. With the death of Henry I Beauclerc in 1135, Stephen of Blois, Count of Mortain and Geoffrey of Anjou disputed the legitimacy of the realm. Saint-Lô sided with Stephen but was taken in 1139 by the Plantagenet army in just three days. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, passed through Saint-Lô and a church, of which there remains no trace except the name of the Rue Saint-Thomas, was dedicated to him. In 1204, Saint-Lô submitted to Philip Augustus and became French. During this period of peace, the town prospered: It had the Hôtel-Dieu built on the edges of the town along with part of the Notre-Dame church and in 1234 a guild of tailors was established. Saint Louis came to the city twice, in 1256 and 1269. Saint-Lô was then the third largest town in the Duchy of Normandy after Rouen and Caen. In 1275 it received the right to mint coins from King Philip III of France, which it maintained until 1693. It specialised in tanneries with the designation la vache de Saint-Lô [the cowhide of Saint-Lô]. After Toustain de Billy, its own trade of laces and leather aiguillettes amounted to one million in 1555; in knife making: A 16th century saying "Qui voudroit avoir bon couteau, Il faudroit aller à Saint-Lô" [Who would wish to have good knife, it would be necessary to go to Saint-Lô]; in goldsmithing; and in textiles, one of the main centres of France. There were more than 2,000 weavers, located mostly near the Dollée, a less powerful river than the Vire but with a smoother flow. Wool was imported from across the Cotentin peninsula. An order of 20 June 1460 fixed a special edge to the sheets of Saint-Lô.
On 24 September 1351 the king, John the Good, created a mint but did it did not receive the right to strike under the letter "S" in 1389. In January 1538, the letter "C" was attributed to him. The coins minted in Saint-Lô in the Middle Ages are also characterised by a "secret spot" under the nineteenth letter of the legend. The city was robbed of its monetary title in September 1693 in favour of Caen. Then, it returned to conflict with the Hundred Years' War. Geoffrey of Harcourt, a knight with franchises in Nord-Cotentin, betrayed the King of France and gave his homage to Edward III. In response, the barons Percy, Bacon and La Roche-Tesson were beheaded in Paris and their heads were exhibited in Saint-Lô for two years. The English landed at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue on 12 July 1346 and then move upon Saint-Lô on 22 July. Jean Froissart describes "the big town of Saint-Leu in Constentin,... for the hard times, was rich and mercantile." The town was again sacked. Then the town was struck by the Black Death in 1347. Saint-Lô was reconquered in 1378 by Charles VI but it was again lost to English rule on 12 March 1418. During this period of political unrest, the lesser lords no longer knew where to place their allegiance. The French regained Saint-Lô on behalf of Charles VII on 12 September 1449. The king confirming the status of the Duchy of Normandy, it was the turn of the Duke of Brittany to occupy Manche, but Saint-Lô successfully repelled an attack in 1467, decimating a part of the Breton troops who were trapped by surprise in the Rue Torteron. On 9 November 1469, the ducal ring was broken and Normandy was definitively integrated into the Kingdom of France.
The period of peace had returned but the Cotentin lost its importance. Francis I was acclaimed at the door of the Neufbourg in 1532. In the 16th century, Protestantism won the round. Saint-Lô had a reformed church from 1555 and early printed books would be Protestant works. Saint-Lô suffered notably during the Wars of Religion. The Huguenots, holding Saint-Lô and Carentan, ransacked Coutances in 1562 and seized the Bishop Artus de Cossé-Brissac, who was dragged in the town of Saint-Lô on a donkey. Although, while the Edict of Pacification of Amboise had prompted the city to submit to Charles IX in February 1574, Norman Protestants made their headquarters in Saint-Lô. Troops led by the Marshal de Matignon besieged the city on 1 May, assaulted it 10 days later and captured it on 10 June. There were more than 500 deaths among those whose leader was Colombières, Lord of Bricqueville, but the Protestant Grand Captain Gabriel I of Montgomery escaped through the door of the Dollée. The town was ceded to Jacques II de Matignon who built the citadel. Two years later the seigneury of the bishops of Coutances over the town ceased forever.
As a result of the war, in 1580, Saint-Lô lost the headquarters of the présidial, transferred to Coutances, capital of the bailiwick. In the mid-17th century part of the walls were destroyed, and the town grew with a new borough known as Neufborg. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), most craftsmen abandoned Saint-Lô. The Revolt of the va-nu-pieds shook the area slightly in 1636, when the Government wanted to extend the gabelle in Cotentin. The region flourished especially in the manufacture of so-called d'estame wool socks. In 1678, the relics of Saint Laud were brought back to Notre-Dame. The route between Paris and Cherbourg, built to 1761, passes to Saint-Lô, facilitating trade. The French Revolution of 1789 overthrew the administrative division of the France and the capital of the department was temporarily set at Coutances between 1794 and 1796. Saint-Lô took the Republican name "Rocher de la Liberté" [Rock of Freedom] and a tree was planted on the Champ de Mars. The city was relatively untouched during the Reign of Terror although there were some clashes with the Chouans.
The Napoleonic period saw the creation of the national stud. In 1827, Marie Thérèse of France, Duchess of Angoulême, passed through Saint-Lô and she was struck by the beauty of the landscape. She then planned to bring the sea to Saint-Lô making the River Vire navigable. The creation of the Vire and Taute Canal in 1833 allowed the establishment of the connection between Carentan and Saint-Lô. Then, by order of 10 July 1835, the Vire was classified as navigable. Baron Alfred Mosselman built a port at Saint-Lô in recruiting nearly 250 military detainees and Spanish prisoners. A boatyard was created and traffic flowed at 50 tons in 1841 to more than 132 in 1846. Mosselman then launched barges and introduced horse traction by arranging the towpaths of the waterway. Several goods were transported but mainly the tangue and the lime from the quarries of Pont-Hébert and Cavigny. It thus passed from 1,233 tonnes of lime production in 1841 to 30,000 in 1858. In 1867, the paper mill of Valvire[Note 2] was built near the spillway and manufactured packing paper. It was destroyed by fire in 1930 and little remains beyond the chimney of the plant.
Saint-Lô ruled out the Mantes-la-Jolie-Cherbourg railway because its inhabitants, having fear of industrial progress, refused a path linking them to Paris. It would be attached to the rail network in 1860. In the 19th century, Saint-Lô, in the heart of a rich farming area, established itself as an important place for trade in animals, but the fear of the rural population towards the industrial revolution was blocking its development. River traffic transit saw 53,000 tonnes of goods, only 6% of which were foodstuffs. A leak was discovered in the canal and the River Vire was decommissioned in 1926. The region experienced a significant rural exodus and suffered casualties of the war of 1870 and the First World War. The Valvire paper mill burned down in the 1930s and would never be rebuilt. The demographics of the department was very negative from 1850. The city covered World War II in a declining situation.
The criminal case of Jean Philippe took place in Saint-Lô, and was then judged by the Court of Assizes of Manche, at Coutances on 9 December 1940.
France was invaded in 1940 and the 7th Panzer Division, commanded by Rommel, entered Normandy. The objective being the capture of the city of Cherbourgh, the centre of Manche was bypassed as the German Army occupied Saint-Lô, a strategic crossroads, on the night of 17 June 1940. During the occupation, the statue of the Norman dairywoman and the Havin statue, both made by Arthur Le Duc were sold and melted to make cannons, despite opposition from local politicians. In March 1943, the Germans decide to dig a tunnel under the rock. For the time being, no one is able to say what the usefulness of this tunnel would have been, though it was dug at the same time as the Agneaux Institute. Workers from the STO would be required until the beginning of the Battle of Normandy. Then, the underground, under construction, would house the sick of the Hôtel-Dieu located opposite and a part of the Saint-Lô population.
A German soldier was shot in January 1944 and several local people were arrested. The cinema, theatre and bars were closed, radios confiscated and the curfew was extended to 8pm.
During the Liberation, Saint-Lô suffered two series of air attacks during the Battle of Normandy. The first was the bombardment of the city by the Americans during the night of D-Day 6-7 June 1944. The first air American strike killed almost eight hundred civilians. Allied planes continued to attack the power plant and rail facilities daily for a week.
A second series of air attacks began on 17 July, during the Battle of Saint-Lô. This time the city was bombed by the Germans. As a main transport center, the city was a nexus of military activity starting Battle of Normandy and on to the breakout from Normandy, Operation Cobra. As a result of air and ground attacks, Saint-Lô was almost totally destroyed (90-95% according to common estimates). The city was dubbed "The Capital of the Ruins" by Samuel Beckett. Saint-Lô was one of the key cities to the opening of the Falaise Gap, which ultimately allowed Allied forces to expel the Germans from northern France.
Saint-Lô received the Legion of Honour and the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 on 2 June 1948 with a citation for "capital of the Manche Department which has retained full confidence in the destiny of the country. Suffered on the night of 6-7 June, with a heroic calm, an air bombardment to such a point that its inhabitants could consider themselves as citizens of the capital of the ruins". These awards would be given on 6 June by President Vincent Auriol. The two communes, now absorbed from Sainte-Croix-de-Saint-Lô and Saint-Thomas-de-Saint-Lô, were also decorated with the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 on 11 November 1948.
After the war the question arose as to whether the town should be rebuilt or left with its ruins intact as a testimony to the bombing. One American soldier laconically commented: "We sure liberated the hell out of this place".
Almost totally destroyed (97%), Saint-Lô had the unenviable nickname of Capital of Ruins, an expression attributed to Archbishop Bernard Jacqueline. It was the reason which compelled the prefect of the ruins Édouard Lebas to settle in Coutances. This Capital of Ruins was revived by Samuel Beckett in his text The Capital of Ruins of 10 June 1946, which he wrote for Raidió Éireann, proving how much it remained marked by what he had seen and done in Saint-Lô. The Notre-Dame church located on the ramparts still bears the scars of bombing and bloody clashes which took place. The population timidly returned to the city. There were 180 people on 12 August 1944, but U.S. authorities decided not to issue authorisation of residence and supplied tickets. A lengthy clean-up began, including the corpses of residents and soldiers, which lasted until 15 October 1944. However, officials hesitated to rebuild Saint-Lô. Indeed, some were willing to leave the ruins as a testament to the martyrdom of the city and later rebuild a new Saint-Lô. The population declined, preferring to reinhabit its city.
In April 1945, the Reconstruction Minister Raoul Dautry advocated a provisional wooden barracks building. These huts are built through the generosity of the donations. Thus, the association of the Swiss grant unblocked an appropriation of 620,000 Swiss francs to build homes and a community centre. On 10 October 1949, Switzerland offered a gold ingot to the city which yielded 649,490 francs. There were ten housing estates in 1948, some which contained over 70 houses. The barracks were delivered in kit form, and it was enough to build them on the spot. Each had different specifics according to their place of origin (Swedish, Finnish, Swiss, French, American, Canadian). The Irish Red Cross participated in the construction of a hospital consisting of 25 buildings (located level with the Pasteur college) and landed 174 tons of equipment. The hospital was inaugurated on Sunday, 7 April 1946 and the Irish medical team left Saint-Lô at the beginning of January 1947. This hospital, consisting of wooden shacks, operated until 1956.
By 1948, a more permanent Saint-Lô had to be rebuilt. This would be done on the basis of plans designed by the Chief Architect of the reconstruction André Hilt (died 1946), which had proposed to retain the general fabric of the town by adapting it to modern needs. President Vincent Auriol laid the first stone just four years after landing.
As partial reparation for the destruction of the city, the Americans, behind the bombing, decided to build a modern hospital. The plans were made by the architect Paul Nelson, who decided to build a contemporary-style building. It is located on the Route de Villedieu. Work began in 1949, and it was completed on 10 May 1956. A monumental mosaic was made by Fernand Léger, which pays tribute to peace and Franco-American friendship: Both hands towards the Cotentin Peninsula symbolised with an apple tree branch in bloom. It was at that time the largest hospital in Europe. On 29 November 1949, the journalist Frédéric Pottecher submitted a hypothesis to not move the prefecture of Manche from Saint-Lô. Although, during the reconstruction, it was temporarily placed in Coutances. The whole of the population reacted and a petition collected more than 2,400 signatures: in the journal le Réveil, an article quotes:
So come back to Saint-Lô, Sir! Not for burial, but to see the prefecture, the building sites, the plans, the nerve of the victims. You will see how keenly the people of Saint-Lô will kick your backside.
The prefecture returned to Saint-Lô in 1953, into new premises.
Saint-Lô was rebuilt. The dominant style was a neo-regionalist functionalism which was dominated by concrete. Its dated and monotonous character was soon criticised. If this choice, dictated by the circumstances and the immediate problems of the housing of Saint-Lô, leaves regrets today, it makes Saint-Lô, on a smaller scale than Le Havre or Lorient, one of the most striking testimonies of the reconstruction period. A few streets contain vestiges of the old Saint-Lô: some houses on the Rue du Neufbourg, Rue Croix-Canuet and Falourdel, Rue Saint-Georges and Porte au Four. This last street houses the last medieval way of Saint-Lô. In 1964, Saint-Lô absorbed two neighbouring communes, Sainte-Croix-de-Saint-Lô (660 inhabitants in 1962, to the east of the territory) and Saint-Thomas-de-Saint-Lô (306 inhabitants to the south). The town benefitted from the economic growth of the Trente Glorieuses and the population grew by 30% between 1968 and 1975. It built neighbourhoods of buildings in the Valley of the Dollée and Val Saint-Jean. The theatre, meanwhile, was inaugurated in 1963.
The square of the town hall was completely redeveloped in the 1990s. The city organised a large demonstration on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy landings. The edges of the Vire were reconfigured with the rehabilitation of the towpath and the creation of a green beach, at the Place du Quai-à-Tangue. A scow was rebuilt and crossed the river, in order to remember former river traffic. In 2004, the rural area of Bois-Jugan was urbanised, with the creation of housing within a framework of preservation of green spaces and a large aquatic centre. Later, the Des Ronchettes water tower was built following an unusual method for the time, since the tank (strongly resembling a flying saucer) was built at the ground level, then raised by a system of jacks, as the rings composing its body were manufactured. As such, its elevation allows a mounting point for telecommunication (mobile phone, WiMAX, and FM radio) networks.
For the revolutionary period, the destruction of most of the archives does not allow a definitive result.
|1784||July 1789||François Bertrand de Bacilly de la Ponterie[Note 3]|
|July 1789||Late 1789||Pierre Louis Denier des Fresnes[Note 4](1751-1797)|
|Late 1789||November 1790||Jacques-Michel-François Oury de Boisval|
|November 1790||?||Antoine Vieillard de Boismartin[Note 5](1747-1815)|
|?||November 1791||M. Dubuisson||National militia captain in 1789|
|November 1791||3 December 1792||Jacques-Michel-François Oury de Boisval|
|3 December 1792||8 January 1794||Antoine Vieillard de Boismartin[Note 6]|
|8 January 1794||?||Jacques-Michel-François Oury de Boisval|
|?||1799||Jean-Baptiste Antoine Bernard[Note 7] (1815)|
|1799||1803||François-Alexandre-Léonor Le Jolis de Villiers[Note 8] (1760-1845)|
|1803||1811||Louis Alexandre Félix Guillot|
|1811||February 1815||Antoine Vieillard de Boismartin|
|1815||11 November 1818||Pierre Antoine Théodore Pinel de Vauval (1767-1848)||Avocate of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte|
|11 November 1818||30 March 1832||Pierre Louis Clément[Note 9] (1776-1852)|
|30 March 1832||30 August 1840||Gilles Le Menuet de La Juganière (1773-1860)||Avocate and magistrate|
|30 August 1840||15 August 1843||Paul Louis Clément|
|15 August 1843||6 March 1848||Pierre Philippe Lecardonnel (1792-1860)|
|6 March 1848||20 June 1849||Paul Louis Clément|
|20 June 1849||1868||Ernest Dubois[Note 10] (1800-1873)|
|1868||1870||Louis Auvray[Note 11] (1808-1871)||Polytechnician|
|1870||7 February 1874||Auguste Houssin Dumanoir[Note 12] (1808-1889)||Physician|
|7 February 1874||20 May 1888||Gustave Paul Rauline[Note 13] (1822-1904)|
|20 May 1888||20 December 1896||Henri Amiard[Note 14] (1841-1896)|
|20 December 1896||15 May 1904||Alfred Dussaux (1848-1915)||Avowed elected to the left|
|15 May 1904||7 April 1907||Jules Dary (1839-...)||Elected to the left||Former merchant|
|7 April 1907||10 May 1908||René Thomas (1856-1937)||Elected to the right||Physician|
|10 May 1908||1915||Alfred Dussaux||Avowed elected to the left|
|1915||1919||Auguste Leturc (1852-1924)||Doctor|
|1919||1925||Antoine Ludger[Note 15] (died in 1958)||Veterinarian|
|1925||1926||Émile Enault (1871-1926)||Director of the Journal de la Manche|
|1927||1929||Jules Herout[Note 16]||Honorary head of division at the prefecture|
|1929||1944||Anésime Périer (1876-1958)||Trader|
In 1944, the municipal council was suspended and a municipal delegation, chaired by Georges Lavalley, was temporarily responsible for administering the city.
|18 May 1945||4 May 1953||Georges Lavalley (1894-1959)||Merchant|
|4 May 1953||29 March 1971||Henri Liébard (1909-1986)||Public works engineer|
|29 March 1971||31 March 1977||Jean Patounas (1916-1995)||RI||Surgeon|
|31 March 1977||11 March 1983||Bernard Dupuis (1937-2018)||PS||Agricultural engineer|
|11 March 1983||24 March 1989||Jean Patounas (1937-)||UDF-PR||Surgeon|
|24 March 1989||15 June 1995||Bernard Dupuis||PS||Agricultural engineer|
|15 June 1995||6 April 2014||François Digard (1948-2017)||UMP||Advertising consultant|
|6 April 2014||Incumbent||François Brière (1973-)||DVD||Professor of Law|
In 2012, the commune had 18,931 inhabitants. Since 2004, communes with more than 10,000 have a census take place through an annual survey.[Note 17]
Demographic evolution of Sainte-Croix-de-Saint-Lô (absorbed in 1964)
Demographic evolution of Saint-Thomas-de-Saint-Lô (absorbed in 1964)
In 2007, the distribution of the population of the commune by age group was as follows:
|The arms of Saint-Lô are blazoned :|
Gules, a unicorn salient argent, on a chief azure, three fleurs de lys Or.
|Gules, a passing unicorn argent, to shield quartered azure, charged with a capital N Or topped with a star Or.
The city, at a crossroads between Caen, Cherbourg and Rennes, has a natural vocation of marketplace in the centre of the Manche bocage. A city of craftsmen and trade, which owes part of its prosperity to its status of prefecture, it has experienced a late industrialisation and attempts to assert its place, today, in the regional agri-food industry. Despite this, the Saint-Lô country became one of the less industrial areas of the region. Its unemployment rate of 6.7% also hides an exodus of young workers to the area of Caen and Rennes. The entry into service of the RN 174 helped open up the centre of Manche and create a new industrial zone (ZAC Neptune).
In 2008, Saint-Lô was equipped with fibre optic cable to allow companies and individuals to have very high speed internet (approximately 1 Gbps and 100 Mbit/s for individuals). Companies should have had access to this speed by September 2008, with individuals not before September 2009. Saint-Lô will be one of the first cities in France of this size to be equipped with a fibre optic internet network.
|Data in %||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|Built land tax||17.81||17.81||17.81||17.81||17.81||17.81||17.81|
|Unbuilt land tax||39.71||39.71||39.71||39.71||39.71||39.71||39.71|
The town of Saint-Lô is very oriented towards services, thus since the fall of Moulinex, the France-United States Memorial Hospital became the first employer in the city. There are many jobs in administration related to its status of prefecture. Its location in the heart of the bocage allows it to sustain services connected historically with agriculture: It may be noted the presence of one of the seats of the Crédit agricole of Normandy, whose closure was announced in June 2010, but also the insurer Groupama, clearly visible from the Major Howie roundabout, and Mutualité sociale agricole. Finally, many businesses have developed along the ring road.
The city hosts activities associated with the rearing of cattle and horses. Each week, a calf market took place in the market installed until 30 December 2008 near Les Ronchettes. From January 2009, it was removed and attached to the calf market at Torigni-sur-Vire. The city also has the Livestock Promotion Centre, located next to the stud farm, which hosts the equestrian competition of the Normandy horse show, each year in August. The agri-food cluster has developed since 1990 with the aim of hosting companies in this sector, several public or parapublic bodies are installed:
In 2008, the only success in the agri-food field was the success of the France Kebab enterprise, which had won many prizes in 2007.
Several regional media are disseminated in Saint-Lô and have an office.
|Level||Public establishments||Private establishments|
|School||Primary school of the Aurore
Raymond-Brulé primary school
Calmette-et-Guérin primary school
Jules-Verne primary school
Jules-Ferry primary school
Gendrin nursery and primary schools
School complex of the Yser
|Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc School (interparish)|
Sainte-Geneviève School (Bon-Sauveur)
|College||Collège Georges-Lavalley : 371 pupils
Collège Louis-Pasteur : 458 pupils
|Collège du Bon-Sauveur|
|High school||Lycée Pierre-et-Marie-Curie : 903 pupils
Lycée Urbain-Le Verrier : 803 pupils
Lycée Camille-Corot : 347 pupils
|Further education||National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts|
National School dairy industry technological hall
School of Management and Business
Graduate School of agribusiness executives
Nursing Training Institute
The site of Saint-Lô is a component of the IUT of Cherbourg-Manche which offers the following courses:
The School of Management and Commerce of Saint-Lô was established in 1988 under the auspices of the FIM Group and is currently headed by Yves Ricolleau. A member of the national network of the EGC, the school offers post-BAC training consisting of three years of responsible marketing, commercialisation and management. The school gains about 40 new students each year.
Saint-Lô has been the site of various garrisons at the Bellevue barracks:
In 2014-2015, FC Saint-Lô Manche developed its team first in CFA 2 and two other teams in the League of Lower Normandy. In 2004, the club was playing in the CFA. The club home is the recently-built Louis-Villemer Stadium.
The Church of Notre-Dame de Saint-Lô is a monument of Flamboyant Gothic style erected on four centuries from the end of the 13th century to replace the former castle's chapel. It is located in the Enclos surrounded by ramparts and was listed on the register of historic monuments in 1840. The outdoor pulpit was noted and drawn by Victor Hugo, which he called 'unique' in a letter to Adèle Foucher. He protected it from demolition, which was planned prior to town renovation in 1863.
The building suffered heavy destruction during World War II, although it was among the only standing buildings after the 1944 bombings. If the stained-glass windows were saved, after being always present since temporary removal during the war, the nave was gutted following the collapse of the North Tower which was shelled by German artillery. Its roof and façade were destroyed, as well as the top of the other tower. Instead of rebuilding the church identically, the architect of Historic Monuments decided to build a greenschist frontage to highlight the scar left by the war. The statue of Notre-Dame du Pilier is from 1467; having been destroyed and remade several times, it is now housed on a column in the apse chapel.
The abbey church of Sainte-Croix is, according to the tradition, the heir of a chapel built here by St. Helena in the 4th century and of an abbey founded by Charlemagne. More documented is the creation of an Augustinian abbey by the bishop of Coutances in 1132. The Romanesque church was consecrated in 1202, being largely remade in the following centuries with successive renovations. The choir was remade in the 16th century while the bell tower is from 1860-1863. During World War II, the bell tower (located laterally) collapsed and it was on its ruins where the body of Major Howie was placed; a new bell tower was rebuilt in 1957 on the forecourt in a modern style. On the church square stands the departmental monument in memory of the victims of the wars of Algeria and Indochina, opened in 2005.
The cemetery of Saint-Lô is located between the Saint-Croix Church and the national stud, on the Route de Lison. The cemetery is much marked by the Second World War with the plot of the civilian victims of the bombing of 1944, also the mausoleum of the Blanchet family, and Major Glover S. Johns Junior who installed the first command post before releasing the city. One can still find the tomb of the French revolutionary general Dagobert. Also note the weeping statue which has traces of shrapnel, a bronze sculpture of Cabet, who was a student of F. Rude.
The parish of Saint-Lô has other Catholic buildings:
Several sites are registered as historic monuments:
The Maison-Dieu [House of God] (not to be confused with the Hôtel-Dieu) located opposite the church and built in the second half of the 15th century was razed during the bombings of 1944. This bourgeois construction presented a half-timbered façade with corbels and sculptures. Another House, called Poids Royal, located in the quad at 11 Rue Thiers in the Enclos had been included in historical monuments on 3 October 1929, it was also destroyed.
Saint-Lô also has remains of its medieval line of walls. Ramparts still exist on three of the four sides of the Enclos. The remains include: Tour des Beaux-Regards ("Tower of Beautiful Glances"), commanding the steepest part of the spur of the town, and the Tour de la Poudrière ("Tower of the Gunpowder Store"), an impressive military relic of the old citadel, are the two most notable elements of the ramparts. On the south side, the wartime disaster of 1944 had the paradoxical effect of clearing the base, where houses had grown around the Rue du Torteron.
Saint-Lô is home to the largest of the 23 national stud farms in France. In 1806, Napoleon provided Saint-Lô with a deposit of stallions by the Imperial Decree of 4 July 1806. From its origin, the deposit was installed on buildings and abandoned land of the old Abbey of Sainte-Croix (3 ha (7.4 acres) first leased and then owned from 22 September 1807). The stud then recruited from the breeding of the Haras du Pin.
In 1826, the military remount depot moved premises which the stud had given to it; most stallions were taken from the stud to provide cavalry. On 28 May 1874, the Boscher Law enabled supervision of the allocations of the regiments and allowed to provide the stud with over 230 horses. On 28 June 1881, the municipal council decided to transfer the stud to adjoin the Route de Bayeux. Thus, the current stud farm buildings date from 1884 (the first stone was laid on 11 June 1884), and the transfer was finished three years later. During World War I, five mares out of six were requisitioned, but no stallions. Grooms fought at the front, and German prisoners dug a pond. In 1939, the old stable housed the staff of the Haras de Strasbourg (40 stallions and staff) at the time of the German breakthrough. Then, in 1944, fifty horses were killed by the bombing and other stallions were stolen by German soldiers in flight. The old stud was destroyed and claimed by the city. Thus, there only remains the street of the same name and the Normandy building which was previously the former riding school. The new stud was then built. General de Gaulle offered to the Sultan of Morocco Bois de Rose, a thoroughbred which had been stationed at the stud for two years. The stud then grew gradually in the field of reproduction, by investing in an artificial insemination centre, a centre for the freezing of semen and an embryo transfer unit. Thus, the electoral district of Saint-Lô has the highest density of breeding deposits of France.
Located on the bank of the Vire, the Château de la Vaucelle belongs to the Saint-Lois descendants of the 17th century diarist Luc Duchemin. The Sainte-Pernelle Chapel is the work of a Lord of the Vaucelle Jean Boucart, confessor of Louis XI and founder of the parish library of Saint-Lô, which was at the time the second library of Normandy by importance. Three kings resided at the Vaucelle: Edward III in 1346, at the beginning of the Hundred Years' War the king found that it was not a safe city, Francis I during his visit in 1532 and Charles IX. The dovecote and the northern wall niche are listed as protected elements.
Built by the architect Eugène Leseney, the Jean-Lurçat Cultural Centre is situated on the Place du Champ-de-Mars, opposite the Sainte-Croix Church. It houses the Museum of Fine Arts where, within the collections of the city since 1989, are found: The writings and sketches of Jean Follain, paintings by Corot, Guillaume Fouace, Eugène Boudin. Is also exposed the tapestries of the Amours de Gombault et Macée (16th century), composed of eight tapestries from the Bruges workshops including a draft with the theme of the Lai d'Aristote.
Boisjugan farm is a farmhouse from the 17th century which was in use until 1970. Converted into a museum, it traces the history and ethnography of agriculture in the Norman bocage since the 18th century with agricultural practices, horse and cattle breeding. Typical sites are reconstructed (workshop, stable, barn and creamery).
The Chapelle de la Madeleine is located right next to the national stud, on the road to Bayeux. It is a relic of a former leprosarium from the 14th century. It was classified as an historical monument on 3 August 1974 and was restored between 1988 and 1994. A memorial was inaugurated in May 1995 in honour of the soldiers of the 29th and 35th divisions who liberated Saint-Lô in 1944. Photos, commemorative plaques, tables and flags are on display.
A memorial in the city honours Major Thomas Howie, Commander of the 3d Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army's 29th Division; the unit that liberated the city on July 18, 1944. Howie was killed just before his unit entered the city and was so highly respected that his men placed his flag-draped body on the hood of a jeep at the front of the column so he could be the first American to enter the city. He became famous as the "Major of Saint-Lô".
Redesigned in 1990, the city square is all black asphalt lit by spotlights on the ground. At night it has a resemblance to an airport runway. The statue of the dairywoman or Femme d'Isigny [Woman of Isigny] can be seen at the top of the square. Arthur Le Duc (1848-1918) introduced a plaster statue in 1887, a Norman woman marked by the hard work of the Earth, a milk rod (a typical Normandy container) on her shoulder. A few years later, the bronze arrived in Saint-Lô. It is set on a round plinth, surrounded by a basin, on the Place des Beaux-Regards in front of the Notre-Dame church. She moved a little further when the Poilu of the Great War was installed. It was then unbolted and melted on 8 February 1942, by the Germans, to recover the bronze for the arms industry. In January 1984, André Leplanquais, a merchant of Saint-Lô, wanted to create a replica of this statue. A fundraiser gained significant donations from residents. Once the money was together, the sculptor Louis Derbré, the famous sculptor of Ernée, fashioned a new statue based on the original plans. Moved several times, one can find it near stairs of the square. The base and the granite basin are the original.
The Havin fountain also created by Arthur Le Duc in 1887 was located near the Museum of Saint-Lô; its statue was also melted by the Germans, however no replica has been created. Nearby is the prison entrance, a remnant of the bombing in 1944. An urn containing the ashes of deportees is placed at the foot of it. A memorial in honour of the victims of Nazi repression, it became the departmental monument to the Resistance. The belfry can also be observed from the square, which seems to spring from the heart of the city. Built in 1954, it was once used to dry the hoses of firefighters. Renovated several times since 1990, it is the symbol of the reconstruction of the city. At the top are a weathervane in the shape of Unicorn and a viewpoint, from which one can admire the entire region. Previously open to the public by the tourist office, its access is now forbidden.
A granite statue representing a squirrel can be seen in Saint-Lô, which is the logo of the Caisse d'Épargne banking group; It is located in the Rue Saint-Thomas. What may seem incongruous, it is that there's no bank of this group nearby. However, the bank did have a branch in front, but it was moved in the 1990s. Then arose the question of whether or not to keep the statue for advertising purposes. The people of Saint-Lô had become attached to the squirrel, and it was finally decided to leave it in place.
The town of Saint-Lô consists of a number of quarters:
The city has also two remarkable trees according to the CAUE 50 that are a saucer magnolia, located in a courtyard of the Rue du Neufbourg, and a giant sequoia, located in the courtyard of the district school, on Rue du Général Dagobert.
The town of Saint-Lô is twinned with:
A French stamp representing the coat of arms of the city was issued on 17 December 1966, the stamp was the sixth of the Arms of cities series. Its face value was 20 centimes. It was designed by Mireille Louis.