Prosperous city in ancient times, then important religious town, Sées remains today a cultural and heritage reference. There are no less than 11 Historical Listed Monuments in the town. Its history is equally as rich as it is eventful.
Sées owes its name to the Gaulish tribe, the Sagii, founders of the city. Placed near the Ecouves Forest, wheat plains, and the source of the Orne River, the town was prosperous and its inhabitants wealthy. Legend has it that Sées owed its wealth to the existence of a golden rooster, which came to life every night at midnight.
Later, the Gallic city was occupied by the Romans, proven by discoveries made throughout the town: Roman coins, Corinthian style capitals, and remains of a Gallo-Roman temple.
In the 5th century, Sées became the residence of the Bishop. Greatly weakened by the Scandinavian invasions of the 9th century, the town was reborn at the end of the 10th century and was structured into three boroughs: Bourg- L’Evêque, around the cathedral, led by the Bishop; Bourg- Le Comte, around a Motte-and-Bailey castle, owned by the Earl of Alençon and Bourg- L’Abbé, around the Saint Martin abbey.
In the 18th century the three boroughs merged to form a single entity where many developments were made: destruction of the fortified gates, street paving, cleaning of the Orne River, construction of the Vivier wash house, creation of a tree-lined promenade and a pond in the Fountains Field, the draining of the western swamps…
The history of Sées is marked by the history of its cathedral and its various incidents. Indeed, since the construction of the first structure around 440 by Saint Latuin, the first Sagien Bishop, five buildings have followed in the same place.
Other religious buildings were also established: the Saint Martin abbey, founded in the 6th century by Benedictine monks then destroyed and rebuilt over the course of several invasions, the Cordeliers enclosure created in the 13th century by Franciscan monks…
The construction of catholic buildings proliferated in the 17th and 19th centuries.
In the 19th century the streets were widened and other routes were opened to connect the town centre to the train station. The Canonical enclosure lost its walls and a large part of its buildings. It was replaced by the town hall, still used as such today. Dwellings popped up beyond the historical town centre, along the main roads. The opening of the suburbs was installed in the twentieth century with an extension to the south and north.
The town centre of Sées remains marked today by the existence of the medieval boroughs that now shape three major quarters: the cathedral quarter, the Saint-Pierre quarter and the Saint-Martin abbey quarter. However with the appearance of the two motorways, new subdivisions have been created at the tips of the town. Sées currently counts 4500 inhabitants (INSEE 2009).
The Orne department is a land of heritage, of local producers, greenery, horses, but also of digital and technical innovation, crossroad between Normandy, Pays de la Loire, between the capital and the western peninsula.
The department consists of five territories: the Pays du Perche and its characteristic villages; the Pays du Bocage Suisse Normande with its orchards and rocky terrains; the Pays d’Argentan Pays d’Auge Ornais (PAPAO), land of the horse and castles of character; the Pays d’Alençon, between religious history and modernism, of which the town of Sées belongs.
The Orne department conceals well known places: the National Haras du Pin also called the “Versailles of the horse”, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne and its extensive domain dedicated to well-being, Alençon and its lace, Sées and its cathedral…
The town of Sées is located in the heart of the department, at the crossroads of these five territories and their very individual characteristics.