Nestling at the edge of the Mancelles Alps, the small character town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, a labelled green resort, forms a picturesque ensemble with its old castle ramparts, ancient houses, bridge over the Sarthe and verdant riverbanks. A harmonious scene that can be admired from the banks of the Sarthe, as well as from the public garden of the castle that overlooks the river.
A 15th-century relic, the castle's postern, located at the entrance to the garden, is now home to the A. Loré Museum of the Middle Ages, all about the medieval era. A few streets away, the Romanesque Church of Our Lady, adorned with a remarkable carved oak door from the 16th century, is another gem to admire in the medieval town.
Also worth a look is the Headdress Museum, based in the Lion Room (Salle du Lion), which has a superb collection of Sarthe headdresses from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The most distant origins of Fresnay date back to the 6th century, when there are about 10 families on the "Fraxinidum" site. It is only in the 9th century that the history of the city really begins with the construction of the castle in 877 under the impulse of King Charles the Bald. Indeed the site seems ideal for the installation of a fortress because located on a rocky spur overlooking the Sarthe. Despite this, the city, known at the time under the name of Fresnay-le-Vicomte, will undergo several assaults, those of William the Conqueror and later those of the English. With the attack of the English, during the Hundred Years War, a man born in the region will be honored: Ambroise de Loré, companion of Joan of Arc, named Captain of the city in reward for his bravery.
During the following centuries Fresnay will be famous for its hemp paintings. This economy will mark the landscape of the city including the district of Bourg Neuf which lists many weavers houses. The architecture of its houses is recognizable by the external staircase which serves, upstairs the only living room, and in the lower part, slightly buried, the weaving workshop.
Fresnay-le-Vicomte will become Fresnay-sur-Sarthe after the Revolution.
Name of the inhabitants: the Fresnois.
History: Mentioned since 1097 under the name of Sancti Germani de Coldria, this borough is called Saint-Germain-de-la-Coudre until 1952. Indeed, for administrative reasons (error of destination...) with the Saint-Germain-de-la-Coudre municipality in the Orne, a ministerial decree of 1952 gave him the name of Saint-Germain-sur-Sarthe.
Common whose religious influence is undoubtedly, it has preserved its ancient church.
Name of the inhabitants: the Saint-Germinois.