La Flèche is a commune of the Pays de la Loire which takes place in the heart of the department of Sarthe. It is located in the ancient Maine angevin, about forty kilometers from Le Mans, and forty-five kilometers from Angers. With the valley of Loir, the city is labeled Country of Art and History and benefits from three flowers in the competition of cities and floral villages of France.
The commune of La Flèche was born in the year 1000, but really took off in the 17th century, notably thanks to the creation of Henri IV College, now the Prytanée Military High School. A great religious center, the town is also known for its important emigration to New France, a region of present-day Canada, in the course of the seventeenth century. The 20th and 21st centuries saw the emergence of an important policy for the modernization and enhancement of heritage.
There are still many monuments listed or inscribed in the Historic Monuments, as well as a zoo that has made the fame of the city and is the subject of a series on France 4, A season at the zoo.
Created in 1946, the zoo of La Flèche is surely the most visited tourist site of the city. The oldest private park in France, it has no fewer than 1,200 animals spread over 150 different species. It is possible to discover lemurs, white lions or elephants, and to sleep on site in lodges installed in the heart of the establishment.
It was in 1603 that King Henri IV ceded his Château-Neuf for the creation of a college of Jesuits. Built in 1540, the monument presents a classical architecture which since the beginning of the 19th century has been home to one of the six military high schools in France, the Prytanée. One can still admire the church of Saint-Louis of the early 17th century and classified to the Historical Monuments, or a very beautiful door of honor surnamed a pediment with the effigy of King Henri IV. The site also has a beautiful French garden that extends over thirteen hectares.
Today used as a wedding hall or as an exhibition site, the Chateau des Carmes takes place in the middle of the Loir. First fortress of the eleventh century, it is many times ravaged and burned, especially during the Hundred Years War, before being completely rebuilt in the 1920s.
The former Monastery of the Visitation, which is now part of the Monuments Historiques, is now used as a hospital in La Flèche. Founded in the mid-17th century, it underwent many modifications during the nineteenth century, including the addition of a chapel.
Built at the end of the 11th century, the Bruère mill is currently the last windmill in France to produce ice. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has also produced electricity before being closed in 1992.
Walking through La Flèche, you can enjoy the Halle-au-Blé, listed in the Historic Monuments. Ancient medieval wooden halls, they were rebuilt in stone during the 18th century before hosting an Italian theater in the 19th century. Do not miss the Place Henri IV, the oldest of the city, which features a monumental 19th-century fountain with a bronze statue of the former King of France.
The old center of La Flèche also reveals very beautiful private mansions and other remarkable dwellings, like the Huger hotel classified to the Historic Monuments. Built in the 18th century, it now hosts exhibitions of contemporary art. In the rue Grollier, a square tower of the 16th century was inscribed in the Historic Monuments.
There are several religious buildings in La Flèche, such as the church of St. Thomas in Romanesque style and strongly modified in the nineteenth century. It hosts several objects classified to the Historical Monuments as a statue of Our Lady of the Head of the Bridge dating from the sixteenth century. The oldest church in the city, the Notre-Dame-des-Vertus chapel dates back to the Gallo-Roman period. Rebuilt in the 12th century, it reveals beautiful carved woodwork and has been inscribed in the Historic Monuments. Also worthy of note is the Sainte-Colombe church, which is also a neo-Gothic church.
Regional nature reserve, the Cre-sur-Loir / La Flèche marsh offers several discovery trails to explore to discover the local fauna and flora. The banks of the Loir are also landscaped with the park of Carmes and the ruins of the old castle, registered natural site.
The lakes of La Monnerie include a swimming lake, a cycling and pedestrian path, or a beach and a fishing lake.
The market of La Flèche is held on Wednesdays and Sundays morning.
In January, La Flèche hosts classical music concerts in the region of the Folle Journée festival in Nantes.
The fun fair of La Flèche is organized every year in February and March at the fair of ashes.
An exhibition fair is held every year in April.
Organized every second weekend of July, the festival Les Affranchis offers theater and street arts shows throughout the city.
In July and August, Musical Fridays feature concerts every Friday night in the Place Henri IV.
The harvest festival is held every September.
A Christmas market is proposed in December with the installation of an outdoor rink.