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Vire from the Place du Château
Vire from the Place du Château
Coat of arms of Vire
Coat of arms
Vire is located in France
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Country France
Region Normandy
Department Calvados
Arrondissement Vire
Canton Vire
Intercommunality Vire
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Jean-Yves Cousin
Area1 22.50 km2 (8.69 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 12,231
 • Density 540/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 14762 / 14500
Elevation 85–225 m (279–738 ft)
(avg. 134 m or 440 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Vire (French: [viʁ]) is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.


The town is located on the river Vire.

the "bocage virois"


In 1123, Henri I Beauclerc, King of England and Duke of Normandy, had a redoubt constructed on a rocky hill top, which was surrounded by the Vire river. The redoubt was stoned square at the bottom to assure the defense of the Duchy of Normandy against any attacks from Brittany or Maine.[1][dead link]

This stone work would be later, beginning of the 13th century, on the order of Saint Louis, completed with exterior ramparts. This second precinct however would be finished only at the beginning of the 14th century.[2]:7

In the old community of Neuville, north of the territory, the castle of Tracy is the seat of an important manor, Arcisse de Caumont.[3]

At the end of the Middle Ages, the village prospered; first with leather, and then with textiles[4] During the hundred years war, Vire was plundered in 1368 by large military companies,[2] and delivered to the English in 1418. The English occupation would end in 1450 and would be brutal to the inhabitants. The execution of Hugues Vaux, owner of the largest farm of the village, after refusing to give up his farm to the English sergeant Fields, caused grief and concern amongst the population. Some inhabitants nevertheless benefited from the English occupation. Eugène Vergny, who provided Fields with information about the movement of the French troops, received the property of Vaux after his execution.[1]

During the reign of Louis XIII of France, because a number of Fortifications of the Middle Ages served in rebellions by the Huguenots in particular, the castle and its precinct were dismantled on orders of Richelieu.[2]:7

Aerial view after the bombardment in 1944

During the 19th century, the village did not respond well to the Industrial Revolution and went into an important recession.

On June 6, 1944 during the Second World War, around 8:00 pm, like many Norman cities and villages, Vire suffered heavily from the British bombings, and 95% of the town was destroyed. One of the two target marking flare groups was out of alignment and much of the bombing fell across the town of Vire. The Master Bomber in charge of the operation identified the problem and issued corrections to the incoming aircraft. Much of the bombing from the first wave of aircraft fell across the town of Vire killing many of the inhabitants. It was a distressing night for many families.[5]

The reconstruction after the second world war began in the 1960s.

Ruins of the Redoubt



In 1953 Vire was merged with the former commune of Neuville. In 1972 Vire was merged with the former commune of Saint-Martin-de-Tallevende.[6] Vire is part of the canton of Vire.[7]


International relations

Vire is twinned with:[8][dead link]


See also

    • Although on On June 1944 at around 8pm the quiet town of Vire in the Bocage region of Calvados was bombed relentlessly by the Allied Forces and over 80% of its buildings were destroyed, it made a remarkable recovery. See before and after and learn more about Vire's survival here
    • Canadian historian and novelist A.J.B. Johnston re-creates a version of early 18th-century Vire in the early chapters of his novel inspired by Thomas Pichon (1700-1781), Thomas, A Secret Life.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "GASO, la banque du blason - Vire Calvados". Retrieved 8 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Buffetaut, Yves (September 2009). "La prise de Vire par les Grandes Compagnies". Itinéraires de Normandie. 15: 60–64. ISSN 1950-9324. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Arcisse de Caumont, Statistique monumentale du Calvados, editeur= Hardel year= 1857 tome= 3 title: Arrondissements de Vire et de Bayeux passage 92
  4. "Vire-tourisme : Vire et les alentours consulté le". Archived from the original on September 11, 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. - 2009 – David FELL.
  6. INSEE, Commune de Vire
  7. Décret n° 2014-160 du 17 février 2014 portant délimitation des cantons dans le département du Calvados
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 "National Commission for Decentralised cooperation". Délégation pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Retrieved 2013-12-26.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Johnston, A.J.B. (2012). Thomas, A Secret Life. Cape Breton University Press. ISBN 978-1-897009-74-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>