Mantes-la-Jolie (often informally called Mantes) is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 48.4 km. (30.1 miles) from the center of Paris. Mantes-la-Jolie is a sous-préfecture of the Yvelines département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Mantes-la-Jolie.
Mantes was half way between the centres of power of the dukes of Normandy at Rouen and the Kings of France at Paris. Along with most of northern France, it changed hands frequently in the Hundred Years' War. Philip Augustus died at Mantes, 14 July 1223.
Louis XIV instituted the manufacture of musical instruments in Mantes, and it was chosen as the centre of brass and woodwind instrument manufacture. In the 19th century, painters were attracted to the town, particularly Corot, whose paintings of the bridge and the cathedral are celebrated. Prokofiev spent the summer of 1920 there orchestrating the ballet Chout.
On May 7, 1953, the commune of Mantes-Gassicourt was officially renamed Mantes-la-Jolie (meaning "Mantes the pretty"), allegedly in reference to a letter of King Henry IV addressed to his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrée who resided in Mantes: "I am on my way to Mantes, my pretty".
Inhabitants are called Mantais.
Le Val-Fourré, the biggest housing project in the world is the most recent quarter of Mantes-la-Jolie, where 28,000 of the city's total 45,000 inhabitants live, many of whom are Muslim.
The chief building in Mantes is the church of Notre-Dame, which dates from the end of the 12th century. A previous church was burnt down by William the Conqueror together with the rest of the town, at the capture of which he lost his life in 1087. Modern bridges link Mantes with the town of Limay on the other side of the river.
Mantes today has light industry, focussed on cement and chemicals, but is inevitably drawn into the economic orbit of nearby Paris.
It is historically and at present a center of musical instrument manufacture. The famous Selmer woodwind factory is located in the adjacent and smaller community of Mantes-la-Ville.
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