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Saint-Claude is a French commune, sub-prefecture of the department of Jura, in the region of Burgundy-Franche-Comté. It is part of the cultural and historical region of Franche-Comté. Its inhabitants are called the Sanclaudiens.


Saint-Claude is located at 431 m, about 30 kilometers northwest of the city of Geneva and 105 km northeast of Lyon (as the crow flies). The city extends in the Jura, deeply cut in a basin on a rocky protrusion above the confluence of the Tacon and Bienne, surrounded by Mont Chabot in the south, Mont Bayard in the east and the ridge of the Forêt d’Avignon in the west.

The area of ​​the community area of ​​70.19 km² covers a section of the French Jura. The area has strong differences in relief. From a geological point of view, Saint-Claude lies in the Folded Jura, in the midst of a series of synclines and anticlines, which are oriented in a south-west-north-east direction according to the strike direction of the Jura in this area. These parallel terrain structures are disturbed by faults in various places. The limestone layers on the plateau originate from the upper Jurassic period and in part from the Cretaceous period. Sediment layers from the Middle and Lower Jurassic Period are also exposed in the valleys. The river system, for its part, not only follows the existing structures, but also shows characteristic gullies (transverse valleys).

The most important flowing water is the Bienne, which crosses the municipality in a deeply cut valley. It reaches the basin of Saint-Claude from the north and turns west below the town to flow again through a gorge. In the basin of Saint-Claude it receives a flow from the east through the Tacon. Both rivers are sunk around 20 to 30 m into the valley floor in the area of ​​the city, which is why the main part of Saint-Claude lies on a limestone plateau or protruding terrain.

While only a small area on the western slope of the Bienne belongs to Saint-Claude, the municipal area extends far north over the forest ridges of Bois de Lésigna (780 m), Bois de Cuttura (874 m) and Bois de la Joux (940 m ) except for the wide moor plateau of Les Prés-Valfin. To the south and south-west, the communal soil extends to the heights of Mont Chabot (905 m), Crêt de Surmontant (1055 m) and Truffet (685 m) bordering the valley of the Bienne, and includes the left slope of the Bienne.

To the east, Saint-Claude is dominated by the heights of Mont Bayard (947 m) and the Pain de Sucre (755 m). In between is the erosion basin of the Gorges de l’Abîme, which is bordered on its upper edge by a horseshoe-shaped rock circus. Further to the northeast, the Cinquétral plateau and the large wooded area of ​​Le Frênois Forêt join on the edge of the Hautes-Combes. The erosion valley Combe de Tressus, which is drained from the Grosdar to the Tacon, also belongs to Saint-Claude. On its northern flank, on the Rochers de Tressus, the highest point of Saint-Claude is reached at 1222 m. The municipality is part of the Upper Jura Regional Nature Park (French: Parc naturel régional du Haut-Jura).

Community structure
In addition to the city itself, Saint-Claude also includes numerous villages, hamlets and farm groups, including:

Saint-Hubert (420 m) south of the Tacon
Rochefort (415 m) in the Tacon Valley
La Croix-du-Bar (410 m) on the Bienne at the north foot of the Crêt de Surmontant
Etables (400 m) in the Bienne valley at the north foot of the Crêt de Surmontant
Chevry (525 m) in a valley basin at the western foot of the Crêt de Surmontant
Ranchette (655 m) on a ledge high above the valley of the Bienne
Chaumont (711 m) on a ledge on the southern slope of Mont Bayard high above the Tacon valley
La Main Morte (936 m) on the Grosdar at the entrance to the Combe de Tressus, below the Crêt Pourri viewpoint
Crêt Giraud (1020 m) in the Combe de Tressus
Les Cernoises (1058 m) in the Combe de Tressus
Haut-Crêt (1119 m) at the height at the eastern end of the Combe de Tressus
Vaucluse (634 m) in the erosion basin of the Gorges de l’Abîme
Cinquétral (862 m) on the plateau east of the Bienne valley
Noire-Combe (577 m) on a terrace on the eastern slope of the Bienne valley
Valfin-lès-Saint-Claude (679 m) on the western slope of the valley high above the Bienne
Sur la Côte (870 m) on the edge of the Bois de la Joux
Les Prés-de-Valfin (858 m) on the edge of a moor area

Neighboring municipalities of Saint-Claude are
Leschères, La Rixouse and Longchaumois in the north,
Lamoura and Septmoncel les Molunes with Septmoncel in the east,
Villard-Saint-Sauveur, Coiserette and Larrivoire in the south,
Chassal-Molinges, Lavans-lès-Saint-Claude, Ponthoux, Avignon-lès-Saint-Claude and Coteaux du Lizon with Cuttura to the west.



Saint-Claude's roots go back to shortly after the year 400 AD. At this time, the holy Romanus and Lupicinus, who came from the region, founded one of the first monasteries in the West on the promontory over the confluence of the Tacon and Bienne on the site of a Gallo-Roman settlement. First the place was called Condadisco, derived from the Celtic word condate (confluence).

Under Oyend, the fourth abbot, the abbey and the settlement developed next to it developed into the religious center of the Upper Jurassic and became the seat of a principality. In honor of this abbot, the place was renamed Saint-Oyend-de-Joux in 510. In the following time the abbey strengthened its influence in the region. The monks cleared many different areas in the valleys and on the plateaus of the Jura, made them arable and thus laid the foundation stone for numerous villages in the area. However, due to the harsh climate until the late Middle Ages, the plateaus of the Hautes-Combes were only populated during the summer half-year. Saint-Claude founded numerous monasteries in the Jura and in the adjacent Swiss plateau.

Saint-Oyend-de-Joux has developed into an important place of pilgrimage over the centuries. This function was further strengthened when the relics of the twelfth abbot Claude (died around 700) were rediscovered in very good condition at the end of the 11th century. For this reason, the place was renamed Saint-Claude at the beginning of the 12th century. The monks now lived according to the rules of the Benedictine order.

Saint-Claude gained its first freedoms as early as the 13th century before it was granted city rights in 1310. In the following time, the production of small items (wooden goods, pipes, etc.) for the pilgrims was established in the city, which was no longer fully dependent on the abbey.

Together with Franche-Comté, Saint-Claude came to France with the Peace of Nijmegen in 1678. The abbey began to decline gradually in the late Middle Ages. In 1742, Saint-Claude was made a bishopric. The diocese of Saint-Claude still exists today, but the bishopric was moved to Lons-le-Saunier. The French Revolution and a major fire in 1799 prevented the city from developing rapidly. In the meantime, various factories had set up along the rivers of Bienne and Tacon that relied on water power, including paper mills, cotton mills and wire drawing mills. In 1811 the area of ​​Saint-Claude grew by the incorporation of the localities Etables and Vaucluse.

In the course of the 19th century, Saint-Claude became an industrial city. The traditional branches of industry were joined by the manufacture of pipes from briar wood and tobacco boxes, violin making and, especially from 1880, precious stone cutting (for the manufacture of jewelry and accessories for the watchmaking industry). Together with plastics processing, which was also introduced at the end of the 19th century, these industries shaped economic life well into the 20th century and were responsible for the rapid growth of Saint-Claude during this time.

On August 19, 1890, Saint-Claude was hit by a strong tornado. The storm caused severe damage. Five people were killed.

However, this upswing was suddenly stopped by the Great Depression in 1929 and the Second World War. Even after 1945 the recession continued, as Saint-Claude in the valley of the Bienne had little room for expansion and was away from the main traffic routes. This changed, however, with the opening of the Plan d’Acier industrial zone in 1970. Various production plants were outsourced from the city and settled in the new industrial zone, which opened up new possibilities in urban planning.

The area of ​​Saint-Claude was enlarged in 1974 when the five surrounding small communities Chaumont, Chevry, Cinquétral, Ranchette and Valfin-lès-Saint-Claude with a total of around 450 inhabitants were incorporated. In 1993, the Communauté de communes de Val de Bienne, a community association was founded, which initially included Saint-Claude, Chassal and Molinges. Since 2003, Choux, Coiserette, Coyrière, Larrivoire, Viry and Vulvoz have also been part of it.



The Saint-Pierre de Saint-Claude cathedral on the edge of the old town at the foot of Mont Bayard was built in several stages from the 14th to the beginning of the 18th century. It is fortified, has more than three meters thick outer walls and a front tower (the second was not completed) and shows styles of Gothic, Classicism and Baroque. The cathedral has a rich interior: a 16th century reredos in the style of the Italian Renaissance, richly carved choir stalls (1447 to 1450), a Louis-seize-style organ, stained glass from the 15th century and the Saint-Claude chapel the relics of Saint Claude.

On the site of the former Carmelite monastery, which was destroyed in the major fire in 1799, there has been an atonement chapel since 1869. The Sacré Cœur church dates from 1923.

The elongated old town, which stretches from the confluence of the Tacon into the Bienne for almost a kilometer northwards over the narrow promontory and onto the plateau at the foot of Mont Bayard, shows a late medieval character with town houses built closely together, most of them from around 1800 come. Only a few remains of the former city fortifications have survived. The Maison du Peuple was inaugurated in 1910. An arch bridge built in 1861 leads over the Bienne.

Of the museums, the Musée de la Pipe et des Diamants (exhibition on the craft of pipe making and gemstone cutting) and another museum on horn pipes should be mentioned.

The surrounding villages, which are now incorporated into Saint-Claude, also have sights. These include the church of Cinquétral, built in the 17th century, the church of Valfin (19th century), the chapel of Vaucluse (1685) with a classical facade, the chapel of Chaumont with a wooden tower and the Château de Chevry (16th century) with its castle chapel.