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Vesoul is a town in eastern France, prefecture of the Haute-Saône department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region and capital of cantons and arrondissements. Seat of the agglomeration community of Vesoul and the country of Vesoul and the Val de Saône, the city is part of the cultural and historical region of Franche-Comté. Located north of the Rhine-Rhône metropolis, Vesoul had 15,058 intramural inhabitants in 2015 and the urban area of ​​Vesoul totaled 59,262 inhabitants. Its inhabitants are called Vesulians.

Established on the hill of La Motte, the city developed in the 1st millennium, under the name of Castrum Vesulium, near several ancient Roman camps. Seat of a viscount then capital of the bailiwick of Amont, the city became, over the centuries, a fortified town, a commercial place, a judicial center, a garrison town and went so far as to acquire administrative and political functions.

Classified as a “Heritage City”, the city is home to a historic district with an architecture characteristic of the region, represented by medieval, modern and contemporary monuments. Endowed with a diversified natural heritage, Vesoul benefits from protected sites, associating plains, hills and bodies of water. The city has an academic inspectorate, cultural establishments as well as several institutes of higher education.

Important industrial area, Vesoul is the global logistics center of the manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën. With consular chambers and recognized activity zones, the city is one of the main commercial and industrial centers in the region. The town of Vesoul was also immortalized in 1968 by the namesake song by Jacques Brel, Vesoul.



A first written mention of the city designates it by the term of Castrum Vesulium (in Latin, Castrum means "fortification" and Vesulium comes from "mountain") in 899. Over the centuries, the city has experienced multiple changes of Latinized names including Vesullum and Visulium, to finally take the name of Vesoul in 1242. In the Middle Ages, the city is also called castro Vesulio or castrum Vesolense.

Several explanations have been given on the origin of the name of Vesoul, one of the most significant highlights the Celtic root ves (mountain, elevation), which is also found in the name of Mount Vesuvius. Vesoul is therefore a far derivative of "mountain" in reference to La Motte, hill where the city was established and developed.

According to the scholar Éloi Johanneau, the name of Vesoul is made up of the Gaelic words: bez (construction), nez (tomb) and houl (sun), or literally "tomb of the sun". According to another explanation, Vesoul would come from the word tudesque besul, which means pointed, in reference to the conical shape of the hill of La Motte.

The name of the inhabitants of Vesoul is Vésuliens. In the past, the inhabitants were sometimes called Vesoulois.

First traces of habitat
Some traces and imprints confirm that Vesoul and its agglomeration were occupied during Prehistory. Objects left by the populations certify that men made and used tools in the Vesulian region, during the various prehistoric ages.

Prehistoric objects, mainly tools, have been found on the different sides of the hill of La Motte. Also, around Vesoul, objects were discovered at the camp of Caesar and on the plateau of Cita, two sites located to the south of the city which provided numerous remains of prehistoric stone weapons. The Pierre-qui-Vire dolmen, a megalith located 2 kilometers east of Vesoul, is dated between 3,500 and 3,300 BC.

The numerous natural cavities of the agglomeration of Vesoul have also made it possible to discover tools and animal bones exploited by man. In the Baume cave, located south of Vesoul, a Mousterian lithic tool was found thus demonstrating a continuous occupation of all levels of the ancient Würm. In the southern gallery of the natural cavity, an occupation of the Final Bronze Age III has also been demonstrated. Finally, a set of mammoth bones was discovered in 1989 at the Champdamoy font, east of Vesoul.


There are few details about Vesoul in Antiquity. Some historians and archaeologists attest to a history during this period. Indeed, archaeologists have discovered on the Motte, dozens of objects dating from Antiquity, including weapons, coins and medals bearing the effigy of the first Roman emperors.

At the time, the territory where the current city of Vesoul is located belonged to the Gallic people of the Séquanes, who had in their possessions a sector between the Rhône, the Saône, the Jura and the Vosges.

When the Romans colonized Sequania, they were marked by the defensive advantages offered by the hill of La Motte and built a small camp there with a military fort. Roman camps were also created in certain areas of the agglomeration of Vesoul such as the César camp, the Cita plateau and the Sabot de Frotey plateau. In addition, we found the existence of six Roman roads that passed on the site of the current town of Vesoul. All these constructions certify that the Romans lived in the area of ​​Vesoul.

During the Gallo-Roman period, the territory of Vesoul belonged to the pagus Colerensis, which had as its capital Corre and which extended from the Vôge to the gates of Besançon.

At the end of Roman rule, in the fifth century, the capital of the pagus was transferred to the Gallo-Roman city of Port-Abucin, currently the city of Port-sur-Saône, and was then renamed pagus Portuensis, then took the name, later, of County of Port, Carolingian constituency whose territory corresponded approximately to the current department of Haute-Saône. The barbarian invasions caused many troubles in the region and the Burgundians then took control of Sequania in the fifth century.

Middle Ages
Vesoul was probably born between the sixth century and the ninth century; the date of the founding of the city is unknown. At that time, the territory of the current city of Vesoul, then located in the county of Port, depended on the kingdom of Burgundy (534-843). Following the territorial redistribution of the Carolingian Empire, Vesoul was successively divided between different kingdoms: the middle Francia (843-855), Lotharingia (855-870), Eastern Francia (870-888), then the kingdom of Upper Burgundy (888-937).

The oldest mention of Vesoul in a historical document dates from 899. At that time, it was a fortified place called Castrum Vesulium (castle of Vesoul in Latin), established on the MotteF 6, built by the counts of Portois. Indeed, the counts abandoned the county capital, Port-Abucin (Port-sur-Saône), which had been destroyed by the Vandals in 411, then by the Normans and the Hungarians in the Middle Ages, in order to find refuge on a site that is more difficult to access: a conical-shaped witness hill whose summit rises 150 meters above the plains, located about 10 kilometers south-east of the city of Port-Abucin. This hill, subsequently called "la Motte" gave birth to Vesoul which therefore became the capital (residence of the counts), then subsequently one of the main cities of the county of Port, which will therefore also take the name of county. from Vesoul. In 982, this county became with the merger of three other counties, the county of Burgundy. In 988, the castle had its first siege, led by Duke Henri I of Burgundy and Count Lambert de Chalon.

Viscount seat
Certainly recognized as an important and strategic place, Vesoul was erected in viscount capital at the beginning of the eleventh century by the palatine count Otte-Guillaume; this feudal administrative district, which replaced the county of Port, had an area which included 28 villages around Vesoul. The first Viscount of Vesoul is mentioned in a charter dated 1019: it is Gislebert I, Lord of Faucogney. On the death of Rudolph III in 1032, Henry II of the Holy Roman Empire inherited his Burgundian property and this is how Vesoul, like the entire county of Burgundy, was attached to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1092, the Viscount of Vesoul Gislebert II founded the priory of Marteroy, a monastery which would become, a few centuries later, one of the largest in the county of Burgundy, in particular thanks to multiple donations from bourgeois. In 1183, Countess Béatrix recognized, by deed, holding the castle of Vesoul as a stronghold of the Church of Besançon.


In the thirteenth century, the village of Vesoul, which had 887 inhabitants in 1240, depended, like other surrounding villages, on the parish of the Saint-Martin-de-Pont church, a building which was located in the current northern part. of Échenoz-la-Méline. Founded in the sixth century, this place was one of the most important sanctuaries in the region. Subsequently, the city of Vesoul was authorized to have its own parish, it was then that it erected one in 1247, which included the hamlets located around La Motte. At the end of the thirteenth century, the noble family which was supported by the provost took the family name of Vesoul.

In the fourteenth century, the Vesulian city appeared as a first-rate commercial place, frequented by many Jewish traders who arrived from 1306 and in particular the Héliot de Vesoul, a rich banking family who had clients in France and in many other territories in Europe . In 1333, the bailiwick of Amont, the largest bailiwick of Franche-Comté, was instituted by Philippe VI of France; Vesoul becomes its capital, thus confirming its status as an administrative town. The Viscount of Vesoul will disappear in the fourteenth century, given that the house of Faucogney did not have a male descendant; the last viscount of Vesoul was Henry de Faucogney, in 1347.

Hostilities of the Hundred Years' War
In 1348, the Black Death spread throughout the county and the epidemic killed many people in Vesoul. As a result, the city's Jews are accused of having poisoned the city's wells; Eighty of them were subsequently tortured and killed. The siege of 1360 led by Flayers, decimated almost the entire population and in 1370, a troop of Germans destroyed the city: in the space of ten years, the town suffered heavy damage and lost a good part of its population but the castle Castrum Vesulium is still standing. Following these events, the Dukes of Burgundy helped rebuild the city and build military fortifications.

Prince Philippe le Bon created in Vesoul, in 1430, a corps of aldermen (form of municipality) made up of four aldermen and in 1442, Jean Sardon, lieutenant general of the bailiwick of Amont, founded on his land the first Vesoul hospital. The Castrum Vesulium was besieged on March 17, 1477, then again in 1479; the castle suffered a fire by the troops of Louis XI.

Modern times
During the Renaissance, Franche-Comté was still under the possession of the Germanic Habsburg Empire of Spain. In 1525, the Archduchess of Austria ordered his prosecutor to put Vesoul under arms to push back the appearance of Protestantism in Vesoul. By letters patent of April 16, 1540, the emperor Charles V set up the city of Vesoul in town hall and made it benefit from all the ranks of justice.

In 1552, Comtois humanist Gilbert Cousin, praises Vesoul in his Description of Franche-Comté: “Vesoul has very powerful walls and magnificent houses. Its soil is vivid, specific to the vine, and fertile in remarkable men, by the austerity of their manners and by their love for letters and their talents ”. While it had a population of approximately 1,700 inhabitants in 1557, the city was devastated by the plague from 1586 to 1589.

The destruction of the fortress and the French conquest
Although entirely French-speaking, Franche-Comté belongs to Spain. Henri IV of France declares war there, on January 17, 1595, in order to attach this French-speaking party to the kingdom of France. In February, he attacks several cities of Franche-Comté. Some manage to resist, but Vesoul is besieged and considerably devastated by an army of 5,000 to 6,000 men: the castle Castrum Vesulium, which overlooked the city for several centuries, is totally destroyed. This is the eighth siege that the city of Vesoul has known. The epidemics and sieges devastating Vesoul proved to be tragic, since in the space of ten years the city's population had declined considerably.


Following a pact of neutrality concluded between the province of Franche-Comté and the kingdom of France in 1611, a time of peace settled in the city. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, many monks settled in Vesoul and this is how three convents were built during this century. In a memoir of 1613, the city is described as "a small town without a fortress" and in 1614, there were 1,948 inhabitants. From 1635 to 1644, takes place the Ten Years 'War, Comtois episode of the Thirty Years' War, which opposes France to the Habsburgs of Spain. This event provoked in the city, the plague, the famine but especially a great misery; thus the population of the city falls to 189 inhabitants. Very weakened, the city was conquered on March 11, 1674, by the Duke of Navailles, general of Louis XIV. The Treaty of Nijmegen, signed on August 10, 1678, attaches the town of Vesoul as well as the whole of Franche-Comté to the kingdom of France. The incorporation of Franche-Comté into France under the power of Louis XIV made it possible to put an end to many wars and looting; Vesoul had a total of twelve sieges in its history, the last two were the two phases of the conquest of Franche-Comté by Louis XIV (1668 and 1674).

After the annexation, the city still kept its municipal administration and its status as the capital of the bailiwick of Amont. At the end of the seventeenth century, when the city's population rose to approximately 2,100 inhabitants in 1688, Louis XIV endowed the city with a particular control over water and forests (1692), with a presidial (1696) and a police court (1699).

A period of peace and development
The Age of Enlightenment offered an era of prosperity to the city as well as to the entire department, both demographically and economically. With a population doubled in the space of sixty years (from 2,340 inhabitants in 1716 to 4,870 inhabitants in 1784), Vesoul is experiencing one of the most important growths in its history. During the 18th century, the city aroused the attention of a few doctors and authors thanks to the discovery of the Rêpes mineral waters, located near the current Rêpes district. The construction, during this century, of private mansions and public buildings in the city attest to a certain prosperity. The construction of the courthouse (1765-1771) and the arrival of renowned magistrates and lawyers allowed Vesoul to forge an important reputation in judicial matters. In the eighteenth century, Vesoul was first and foremost an agricultural center which brought together the trade in grain, timber and animals, in particular through markets and fairs.

Contemporary period
Vesoul, administrative and commercial town
Under the Revolution, the bailiwicks of Franche-Comté were abolished in 1790, so the city lost its title of capital of the bailiwick of Amont which it had acquired during the fifteenth century. In 1791, the city briefly became the seat of the diocese of Vesoul, an ecclesiastical district which was finally suppressed ten years later. In 1793, Vesoul was characterized as a small town with a population of 5,303 inhabitants.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the main activity of the town was viticulture; Vesoul has a hundred hectares of vines and is one of the most important wine centers in the region. On March 12, 1800, the town of Vesoul became the prefecture of Haute-Saône, in particular thanks to its central geographical position in the department.

Listed as a “Good Town” under the First Empire, Vesoul was briefly capital of the State of Franche-Comté, from January 27 to June 6, 1814. Created at the fall of the French Empire, this buffer state located between France and France. He Germany was made up of the former province of Franche-Comté, the department of Vosges and the principalities of Montbéliard and Porrentruy. During the colonization of Algeria by France, in 1853, a few black feet from Vesoul and its region founded the village of Vesoul-Bénian, located in the north of Algeria. In 1857, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Motte chapel, an emblematic monument of the city, was erected at the top of the Motte and in 1858, the Vesoul station was inaugurated on the Paris-Basel railway line, placing thus the city within an important railway line.


During the Third Republic (1870-1940), Vesoul saw its population increase considerably (increase of about 50%, from 7,716 inhabitants in 1872 to 11,926 in 1936). Seat of the Israelite consistory of the East from 1872 to 1896, Vesoul saw its population increase by 1,500 inhabitants in just 4 years, welcoming in particular many Alsatian Jews fleeing the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Around 1880-1890, the city's vines were destroyed by phylloxera; the winegrowers thus moved towards new industries and market gardening. On September 27, 1887, the 11th regiment of horse hunters was quartered in the Luxembourg barracks and remained there for nearly fifty years and marked the city both economically and demographically. During the First World War, the city of Vesoul contributed to military operations but was not attacked.

During the Second World War, the Wehrmacht took Vesoul on June 16, 1940. The city, as well as a considerable part of Franche-Comté, found itself in a prohibited zone; the demarcation line is located only 75 kilometers south of Vesoul. During the first years of the war, resistance in Vesoul was organized individually; in 1943, it began to form around Yves Barbier, who would quickly be considered as the leader of the resistance in Haute-Saône49. Vesoul is particularly known during the war to be the seat of Frontstalag 141, the prison camp of the German Army for the colonial natives of the French army, installed in the barracks of the 11th hunter on horseback. Capable of totaling up to 5,000 prisoners at a time, it is the only camp in eastern France to be active from 1940 to 1944. The town of Vesoul was liberated on September 12, 1944 by the 3rd infantry division US.

Economic and demographic expansion
After the war, the city of Vesoul, like the whole of France, experienced rapid growth; the demographic growth of the municipality is particularly important. Indeed, the city rose from 11,825 inhabitants in 1946, to 18,173 inhabitants in 1975, an increase of more than 50%, in the space of about thirty years15. In 1955, the company Udime (Union Des Industries Métallurgique de l'Est), a subsidiary of Peugeot, invested in the buildings of the former Dollé factory, one of the largest French manufacturers of agricultural machinery, active from 1908 to 1953. Following These investments, many other companies settled down and built their workshops on the site of the former Dollé factory, like Indenor in 1959, then Peugeot SA in 1965. Since the 1960s, more than 250,000 m² of workshops have been built. on the site of the PSAC 1 plant. The takeover of Citroën by Peugeot a few years later accentuated the plant's development.

In order to meet the housing needs of the strong demographic development, the city built two large districts north of La Motte, made up of hundreds of housing units and intended to accommodate several thousand people: Les Rêpes (1957 - 1961) and Montmarin ( 1967 - 1973). In 1975, the city established, in cooperation with the State, a “medium-sized city” contract which consisted in revitalizing the agglomeration which is developing more and more by developing amusement and leisure areas. Thus, from 1976, the Vesoul - Vaivre lake was dug over more than 90 hectares in the western town with the aim of being the center of a vast recreation area. During the last three decades of the twentieth century, activity zones were established on the outskirts of Vesoul such as the Espace de la Motte, the Technologia zone and Les Haberges.

At the start of the 21st century, the city of Vesoul played a major role in automotive logistics in Europe, counting on its territory one of the largest sites of the manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën which totaled more than 5,000 employees in 2003 and being the world center of spare parts, which allows the municipality, both economically and socially, to prosper.