Le Mans: the perfect medium-sized city between Paris and the Atlantic coast

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Recently, Le Mans has been attracting more and more entrepreneurs. The city benefits from a privileged geographical location, a dynamic economic ecosystem and offers a particularly pleasant living environment. It has so many assets that will make you want to stay there for much more than 24 hours!

A city strategically located at the heart of France

Le Mans is very well connected to major French cities, which makes it easy to reach out to potential customers or partners. Le Mans is also ideally located for ensuring excellent logistical operationality in the great west of France (Normandy, Brittany, Atlantic France).

It takes about 2h30 by car to reach the French capital, Paris, the same for Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port (the biggest port on the French Atlantic coast), 2h to arrive in Nantes (the largest city in Atlantic France) and 1h45 to get to Rennes (the largest city in Brittany). And with the TGV, the journey to the centre of Paris is even faster, as it takes a mere 56 minutes to get there! 

In addition to its high-speed train station, the city has an airport and access to 5 motorway junctions. This makes Le Mans an excellent hub for businesses seeking to reach a large market. 

A business-friendly environment for international companies

With 211,423 inhabitants in the city and 321,460 in the urban area, Le Mans is the 3rd biggest city in Atlantic France and the 31st on a national scale. Le Mans offers a business-friendly environment with affordable office space, innovative co-coworking spaces such as the Xmobility factories, and a skilled workforce. The city has also set up several initiatives to support entrepreneurs, such as business incubators and financial incentives for startups.

Le Mans is home to many companies in the tertiary (particularly in the insurance sector, such as MMA-Covea, 3,300 employees), industrial (particularly automotive, such as Renault – ACI, 2,400 employees, mechanical industry, such as NTN, 680 employees, electronics, such as Eaton Souriau, 600 employees), agri-food and logistics sectors. 

The Japanese group NTN Transmissions Europe is not the only major international player which chose Le Mans as the place to set up a company, because the city also hosts a subsidiary of Claas Tractor (which invested €40 million in a cutting-edge tractor factory), and of the art materials specialist ColArt.

A thriving innovation ecosystem

Le Mans has several research centres, universities, technology parks, professional clusters and events. We can cite in particular:

  • Training: Le Mans Université and graduate schools such as AFOREM (business and management), ISMANS CESI (engineering), SUP’ DE COM (marketing) and ESGT (surveying and topographical engineering)
  • Research labs: LAUM (acoustics laboratory), IMMM (institute of molecules and materials, LPG (laboratory of planetology and geosciences), Risk and insurance institute
  • Test and R&D facilities: Acoustic and material Technocampus, 24 hours of Le Mans circuits, CTTM (technology transfer centre)
  • Business clusters: ID4mobility, Le Mans Tech, Créapolis, and Ligepack
  • Professional events: X-Mobilty, Global Risk

The city has also invested heavily in the renewable energy, logistics, and mobility industries, which have attracted a diverse range of businesses and allowed innovative startups to be created, like Sealester (packaging), Wello (tricycle) and Qairos Energies (green hydrogen).

A high quality of life

Le Mans, where real estate can be up to 6 times cheaper than in Paris, is an attractive destination for both entrepreneurs and their families. The city has a rich cultural heritage and beautiful architecture (especially the Old Mans, which is known as the Cité Plantagenêt, and the Royal Abbey of Epau). It also has  great countryside with over 4000 hectares of woodland in the urban area, two rivers (the Sarthe and the Huisne) and the Domaine du Houssay, a park with several ponds located 10 mins from the railway station. 

Of course, the city is world famous for its 24 hour race which has a dedicated museum and which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023. As well as this, Le Mans also offers a wide range of leisure activities, including hiking, cycling, and horse riding, and many cultural events: the international sound biennial Le Mans Sonore, the circus festival Cité du Cirque, the music-hall national institute events, the urban art festival Plein Champ, the literary fair Faites Lire, the night course La nuit des chimères, etc.

Thanks to all these assets, Le Mans is becoming increasingly popular and attracting more and more people. This is confirmed by the annual barometer of the consulting firm Arthur Loyd: in 2021, the city was ranked 15th in the category of the most attractive intermediate-sized cities in France in 2021 and it reached 11th place last year.

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