Abstract : This thesis is about the control and characterisation of the alignment and orientation of molecules by ultra short laser pulses on a theoretical and experimental approach. Alignment corresponds to a symmetric angular distribution of the molecular axis peaked along the laser field axis, whereas orientation provides an asymmetric distribution favouring one spatial direction. Orientation by sudden two-colour (2+1) pulses is studied extensively for the non resonant case and conditions required for achieving significant orientation are explored. A second two-colour scheme, where the second harmonic is in quasi resonance with a vibrational level of the molecule, is also presented and discussed. The last technique has the advantage to offer the detuning of the laser frequency as an additional free parameter, which can be adjusted to enhance molecular orientation. A new experimental polarization imaging 2D technique for the detection alignment is also developed. Experimental results on single shot detection of molecular alignment achieved over an unprecedented temporal span are presented.