More than 1000 years of history
Although Fresnay-sur-Sarthe probably existed as early as the 6th century, it was in the 9th and 10th centuries that its history really began and the town began to take shape. The starting point was its castle, built on a rocky spur overlooking the Sarthe river, and its ford, which provided a means of controlling comings and goings.
The Viscounts of Beaumont, vassals of the Counts of Maine, made use of this strategic position against Norman incursions. The city was later equipped with ramparts and fortified gates, traces of which can still be seen today.
Several monuments still bear witness to the city’s importance and history. Among them: the 12th-century church, enlarged in the 19th century, whose sculpted portal is a gem. Its covered market (halles), rebuilt in the 19th century, was used as a sales outlet for Fresnay’s famous canvases.
Fresnay-sur-Sarthe has been awarded “Petite Cité de Caractère®” and “Ville et Métiers d’Art” labels.