Mantes-la-Jolie is a city of Yvelines, in region Île-de-France, 55 km northwest of Paris.
The commune has developed on the left bank of the Seine forming a loop south of the forest of Vexin. On an active communication axis inhabited since the Gallo-Roman era, Mantes took its rise from the early Middle Ages with the creation of a port between Paris and Rouen.
A strategic crossroads and therefore sensitive, Mantes now has a castle and remarkable religious buildings. The kings of France were not insensible, and while staying in the city, Henry IV wrote to his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrees: "I am at Mantes, my pretty one," giving her future name to the city. The sovereign established there the government of the country from 1590 to 1593. One of his predecessors, Philippe Auguste, had died in Mantes in 1223.
Over the centuries, the territory of Mantes develops towards the south, and the city remains economically active, while maintaining a residential aspect, along the Seine, that the painters of the nineteenth century will immortalize.
During the same period, however, industries were established, and the population was booming: nearly 5,000 inhabitants after the Revolution, 8,000 in 1901, and 13,000 in the aftermath of the Second World War. Urbanization intensified at the beginning of the 1960s with the development of large ensembles, of which the district of Val Fourré and Mantes-la-Jolie which today counts nearly 44 000 inhabitants must face the consequences of a 1980s social unrest due to this concentration of housing. The result is a number of redevelopment plans and a city policy to revive these neighborhoods.
Having preserved an important historical and natural heritage, offering cultural and sporting infrastructures of first importance, Mantes-la-Jolie deserves a visit or even a stay.
Before visiting the city itself, why not take advantage of the many green spaces that are conducive to walking, sporting or leisure activities in the city, especially on the outskirts of the urbanized part of its territory.
La Butte Verte, on the edge of the RN 13, is a parcel of forest managed as a sports course with various playgrounds, football pitches and a kart track.
A former quarry, the lake of Gassicourt is an 18-hectare lake. It is surrounded by footpaths and has oxygenation systems that have enabled the flora and fauna to develop harmoniously. Ideal for fishing and walkers... The park of the Isle aux Dames, bordered by the Seine, offers shaded alleys, bowling alley, skate park...
Also worth mentioning is the Green Belt, a walk along the Seine, from the quai des Cordeliers to the rowing pond, where there is a promenade area, bike paths, plantations and playgrounds for 15 km.
In the town itself, square Brieussel, next to the town hall, generously flowered, the garden of the simple, adjoining the southern aisle of the Collegiate Notre-Dame, the square of the Castle, behind the collegiate church or the square de la Paix, rue des Ursulines and the Gabrielle d'Estrées square, with a vegetation in floor, are all pleasant green lungs. To mention finally, the theater of greenery, on Île aux Dames which hosts many festivities in the summer.
The city took advantage of these spaces to develop an ornithological park on Île aux Dames. Several possible visits. Free entry. For further information, please call +33 1 34 77 54 27.
An educational farm also welcomes children and adults to the Ile l'Aumône site. Free or guided visit (entrance from 5 euros) and thematic workshops. Information on +33 6 13 54 83 79 or +33 6 13 54 83 85.
All of these sites and the surroundings of the city are obviously conducive to all kinds of hiking, walking, mountain biking or horseback riding. Brochures, maps and information on +33 1 34 78 86 70.
Mantes-la-Jolie also has many facilities for sports practice. This is the case of the aquatic center Aqualude which includes swimming pools and play facilities. Open 7 days a week. Information on +33 1 30 42 48 58.
You can prefer the skating rink (tel: +33 1 30 94 02 51), the rowing stage (tel: +33 1 30 94 56 31), the canoe base (tel: +33 1 30 92 30 02) tel: +33 1 30 92 63 40).
For the tennis lovers, 14 courts are available: please call +33 1 34 77 07 00.
So much for recreation. Remains to discover the important historical and architectural heritage.
The Duhamel Pavilion, a Louis XVI style building erected in the 19th century, is a place of temporary exhibitions and cultural events, also home to the House of Remembrance, along the streets of the heart of the city.
Also worth seeing is the Saint-Maclou tower (11th century), a remnant of a church complex and a whole neighborhood facing the collegiate church. This limestone tower has a ground floor and three floors. Under the arcades of the 20th century, panels depicting the history of Mantes are presented.
We will not forget the mansions of rue Baudin (XVIe and XVIIe), testifying to the wealth of commerce of former days.
But if the castle where Henri IV stayed was gone, the jewel of the city remains the collegiate church (Gothic style, 12th and 13th centuries), known as the "little sister" of Notre-Dame de Paris. Incorporated into the defensive system of the city, it was the object of constant attention of the kings of France who made a symbol of their power against the English established in Normandy. For 15 years, the city has initiated a restoration project: the west and north facades, the rosace, one of the oldest in France, and the Burgundy-inspired roof have recovered all their luster.
Finally, one step is necessary in the museum of the Hotel-Dieu, former care establishment built in the fourteenth century. These historic walls house collections linked to the history of the city and works of art up to the 20th century. Admission: 3 and 5 euros. For further information, please call +33 1 34 78 86 70.
A complete tour of the city will also include the Abel-Lauvray Art Center integrated in the former convent of the Cordeliers, the promenade of the ramparts, the Sainte-Anne church (12th) and the Gassicourt district, without forgetting the equipment dating from the development of the quarter of the Val Fourrée (20th), or, more recently still, its requalification.
For guided tours of the city's heritage or for more information, please call +33 1 34 78 86 70.
In May, the Vif festival is devoted to hip-hop and urban expressions.
In November, the Blues sur Seine festival offers more than 130 concerts, meetings, master classes and exhibitions on Mantes and its region. For further information, please call +33 1 34 78 43 80.
Several markets allow to discover the rich terroir of this territory at the confluences of the Ile-de-France, the Vexin and Normandy. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, go to the covered market of the Old Pillory and outdoors in the streets in the city center.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, the retail market at Val Fourré, at the Mantes 2 shopping center, from 12.30 to 18.30 and on Sundays from 10.00 to 18.00.
Christmas market in December.