La Mure, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

La Mure is a French commune located in the department of Isère, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. A small mid-mountain town, La Mure is the central municipality of the Plateau Matheysin. Located at an altitude of 890m, La Mure is at the heart of Dauphiné and of History., it is located 40 kilometers south of Grenoble, 60 kilometers north of Gap and 240 kilometers north of Marseille in the south of Dauphiné. It is located south of the Matheysin plateau, at an altitude of about 860 meters. La Matheysine, one of the southernmost parts of the Isère department. This micro-region marks the beginning of the climate transition between the Northern Alps and the Southern Alps.

Gallo-Roman town then city of the Dauphin in the Middle Ages, the capital of Matheysine was besieged during the Wars of Religion in 1580. Rebuilt in the 16th century, La Mure turned into an important town animated by trade, crafts and agriculture. At the end of the 19th century, the village became a town thanks to new monuments and the arrival of the railway.

The exploitation of the neighboring coal mines ensured the demographic development of the city until the 1960s (population peak in 1962: more than 6,500 inhabitants). A time weakened by the closure of the Houillères du Bassin du Dauphiné in 1997, the county town of Matheysine populated by 5,350 inhabitants has gradually regained its dynamism since the early 2000s with a gradual improvement of the city and the modernization of a certain number of infrastructures.

La Mure’s past is ancient and dates back to Gallo-Roman times. Two events fall particularly into the great hours of its history: the siege of 1580 and the march of Napoleon and his visit to La Mure in 1815.

Middle Ages
During medieval times, we note the existence of several fortified houses including those of: the Lord of La Motte described in 1339, “habet infra villam dominus de mota domum fortem”; de Lancelot de Clermont described in 1363, ” quadam turrim cum domo bassa viridarium grangiam et aliis platheis et releventiis suis site infra villam de mura ” and another described in 1366, ” unam suam domum fortem cum suo tenemento and curtilagio site infra villam de mura in castro justam domum fortem nobilis petrus beymundi and juxtam terram berthoni genpanis and juxtam domum fortem nobilis Remundus aynardi ”.

Early Modern Times
In 1580, during the wars of religion, the city was besieged and taken from the Protestants by the Duke of Mayenne. The Duke of Mayenne, Charles of Lorraine, besieges the Protestant city with 9,400 men. At the end of extremely deadly fighting, 1,500 Murois took refuge in the citadel (located on the site of what is now called the Three Crosses). Short of water and food, they will eventually surrender, after 37 days of a siege that left 1,200 dead. The citadel was destroyed in 1581. In 1587, the castle of Monestier was destroyed by the troops of Lesdiguières.

French Revolution and the First Empire
Napoleon I crossed the Mure, by the street of the Alps, 7 March, 1815 during his return from Elba, just before meeting the troops came to meet him at Laffrey. He arrived at La Mure on the morning of March 7. He was received triumphantly, many volunteers swelled the escort Inspired. He then left for Laffrey where he met the royal troops whom he rallied to his cause in this famous meadow on the shores of the Lake, shortly before the village: the “Prairie de la Rencontre”.

Contemporary Period
The town shows corons and mine headings due to the exploitation of the Mure coal deposit. The recession of the mines of Houillères du Dauphiné since 1967 raises the question of the economic and social transformation of the municipality.

The total population of the municipality have more than 5,200 inhabitants since 2017. Inhabitants stability of the population is an encouraging sign of the renewed dynamism of the municipality of La Mure since the beginning of the 2000s and of its attractiveness 40 minutes from the Grenoble conurbation.

The commune-center of the Matheysin plateau is thus benefiting from the gradual renewal of its infrastructures (new media library, new sports equipment, etc.), from its comprehensive and renovated health care offer (reform of the care offer at the Mure hospital center, future EHPAD…) and its equipment with territorial influence wanted and supported by the municipal team currently in place.

The city is renowned locally for its mining towns called corons. In 1965, the city was classified as the most beautiful city of Isère by National Geographic magazine

Historical heritage

La Mure enjoys a formidable heritage largely inherited from the end of the 19th century.

City Hall
The Third Republic is La Mure’s “golden age”. This prosperity is due to the charisma of the then mayor, Alfred Chion-Ducollet. We owe to its mandates: the Perouzat school, the college (current high school), the station, the hospital, the washhouses, the public baths, running water, sewers, electricity… Neo-Renaissance in style, the monumentality of the Town Hall (1891-1892) rivals that of the Notre-Dame church, consecrated in 1901. These two monuments also evoke very lively anticlerical struggles in La Mure.

Rue du Breuil
Rue du Breuil is the city’s major artery. It is traced on the ditches of the ramparts filled in around 1620.

Saint-Pierre-Julien Eymard church
Of medieval origin (11th century), the monument was razed by the Protestants and then rebuilt from 1606 until the end of the 17th century. The monumental entrance – door and columns with bosses – was moved back in 1902 when the nave was shortened by half. It is here that the young Pierre-Julien Eymard – canonized in 1962 – had the revelation of the Faith. The bell tower was restored in 2009.

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption
our LadyIt is the largest church in southern Isère with the sanctuary of La Salette, two works by Alfred Berruyer. The church consecrated in 1901, after 14 years of work, was repainted in 2002 in Marian colors: blue and white; the interior retains regional furnishings (altars, stained glass windows). The miner’s lamp to the left of the choir houses the flame of the Holy Spirit. Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard – patron saint of the parish – is represented in the form of a statue and a stained glass window.

The temple
Built in 1931, this temple attests to the permanence of the Reformed Church in Matheysine. The first temple built in 1565 in the eponymous street has disappeared. The Wars of Religion from 1562, transform the region into an advanced bastion of the Huguenots under the action of François de Bonne, Duke of Lesdiguières. This Governor of Dauphiné, future Constable of France, fortified La Mure against Catholic assaults. Alas, the city was defeated in 1580. The Edict of Nantes (1598-1685) established a relative peace in Dauphiné, in particular in Matheysine. After the revocation of the edict, the Protestants were persecuted until the Revolution. See the history of the Siege of La Mure at the Matheysin Museum. To maintain this memory, a 1,200 km trail starts from Poët-Laval in the Drôme to reach Geneva then Frankfurt-am-Main and ends in Bad Karlshafen in the north of Hesse in Germany, via La Mure.

The city garden
The “Coup de firedamp” sculpture pays homage to the victims of the mines (the Grisou – methane – is absent from the Matheysine galleries). His artist, the Murois Abel Chrétien, former miner (1919-1972) had a brief artistic career but his works were noticed in the United States of America and on the French Riviera, where he lived. See his works in the town hall and at the Matheysin Museum. Installed in front of the current Lycée (1888), this park has a bandstand dating from 1928. The Harmonie muroise, the oldest local association, performs there several times a year. Like the mining towns of the North, the practice of music remains very popular in Matheysine.

Inaugurated in 1933, this classic “Italian” theater can accommodate 400 spectators. Its ground floor hosted balls and fairs until 1960. Its observation tower punctuates the urban landscape. In the history of mines, the theater marked the start or finish of demonstrations. Opposite the theater, on the roundabout since 2004, sits a sculpture entitled “Union” (1991). The Swiss sculptor André Bücher (1924-2009) translated a symbol of European brotherhood.

Beaumont Castle
This castle was built in the 15th century for the royal lord of Humbert Mure Comboursier, then rebuilt in the 19th century. Only the South-East tower remains from this period. In the 19th century, the Sisters of the Nativity rebuilt the places (chapel, second tower, etc.) for the education of young girls. Property of the city since the expulsion of the nuns in 1905, the castle continues its educational vocation becoming an annex of the neighboring high school until 1988. It now houses social housing and the home for young workers. This castle is the last of the three which appear on the coat of arms of La Mure.

La Maison Caral (the Matheysin Museum)
Dating back to the 12th century, this monument is said to be the oldest in La Mure and even the last vestige of the Château du Dauphin attested in this district. The ensemble consists of a medieval tower extended in the 17th century by a mansion. The house opens onto a courtyard closed by a porch surmounted by a gallery. Become municipal property in 1976, it has housed the Matheysin Museum since 1994.

The Grande-Rue
Large in age, a little less for its dimensions, it was visited by Louis XIII and Richelieu in 1629 and by a pope, Pius VI, in 1799 as the plaques indicate. The main artery of “Medieval La Mure” ends with a covered market, a requirement of the Dauphin written in a charter in 1309. Here the houses are among the oldest (around the 15th century), and the heavy doors conceal imposing stone stairs. Rebuilt many times, the current hall with its 30 columns in Laffrey stone dates from 1843. Life in the neighborhood was punctuated by the bell of the belfry raised in 1720. At the foot, the fountain (1778) provides fresh drinking water. Coulinières separate the houses. These “fire-fighting” spaces served as gutters and sewers before their construction around 1900. The many storefronts attest to the commercial and artisanal tradition long concentrated in this street. The shops have now moved to either side of the Route Napoléon, the city’s main axis.

The Three Crosses
The Trois-Croix site offers a superb panorama of the city, revealing the Obiou (to the south), and the Pierre-Percée (to the north). They were erected at the top of a hill (“ser” or “Payon” in Matheysin) which protected the Galloromans settled in the south-east. This ordeal adjoins a picnic area and an orientation table. On this strategically positioned hill, the Duke of Lesdiguières built a citadel in 1579 to defend the city against Catholic assaults. Vain construction since the city was looted in 1580 and the citadel dismantled, leaving no trace. Under the auspices of the Capuchin monks, a chapel was installed there in 1723, punctuating a Stations of the Cross which then started at the foot of the current town hall. The Revolution took away the small church in 1794, since then only the Calvary, whose crosses have been made of stone since 1864. On March 7, 1815, Napoleon stopped there with his troops before the famous meeting with the soldiers of King Louis XVIII in Laffrey.

This building (1907-1912) is signed by the Murois Jules Besson. As with the town hall he designed, the architect displayed his taste for classicism there (strict symmetry, high roofs, corner pavilions, central fore-building, etc.). The original U-shaped plan has not been visible since the extensions of the 1980s. The pediment sculpted by Auguste Davin presents Sickness and Old Age. It is surmounted by the coat of arms of the city itself topped by an elegant bell tower (without a bell). The whole is flanked by a wing in 1929 to fit out a maternity ward (closed in 1995). The land was offered by the director of the mines of La Mure: Henry de Renéville. On his land, he allowed the construction of the neighboring school: Saint-Joseph (1924), currently Saint-Joseph college and the private vocational high school (LYPPRA). These two sets lengthen the rue des Alpes to absorb the farms of the hamlet of Théneveaux (loti for minors from 1924).

Mining housing, sports and school facilities
During the Revolution, these lands of the Clergy were sold as national property to owners converted to coal mining. From 1915 to 1949, the Compagnie des mines de La Mure built housing for its employees. Minors, supervisors, engineers and surveyors come together in neighborhoods with very specific architectures: modest or ostentatious depending on their rank in the company. Unlike the settlements, the concept of “garden cities” is being developed at La Mure: modules of 2 to 6 apartments, surrounded by gardens. Each city has its own washhouse, its streets, its “circles”. The city of Bastions completed at the time of Nationalization (1947) is the most original and the most successful: effort on town planning, materials, colors…

In the heart of the cities, resound the clamors of the supporters gathered in the Maurice Lira stadium, bordered by the “Pétrus-Richaud” housing. On the former collective mining gardens, stands the new gendarmerie inaugurated in 2011. This district of “Three willows” also includes the air-conditioned center and the college Louis Mauberret, a former miner who became mayor between 1971 and 1977 and a figure in the trade union world. From this mayor dates the swimming pool, next to the tennis courts. Another mayor, Jean Morel built the sports complex that bears his name.

The railroad of Mure
This is a small tourist train which takes (in summer season only) the line of a former mining train which descended the coal from La Mure to Saint-Georges-de-Commiers. The metric gauge line, electrified in 1906, is normally one of the most visited curiosities in the department. However, due to a significant rock slide on the way in the Drac gorges, the service is currently interrupted. Operation should resume in spring 2021 (initially summer 2020 but the health crisis has shaken up the schedule).

Former railway used to transport anthracite (extracted from the mines of the Matheysin plateau) from La Mure to Grenoble, the Petit Train de la Mure underwent a tourist conversion from 1997 until 2010 (landslide on the track). From Saint-Georges de Commiers to La Mure, the little Train unveiled exceptional panoramas above Lake Monteynard.

In spring 2021, the little Train de la Mure will be put back on track to bring visitors to the belvedere overlooking Lake Monteynard. While awaiting its long-awaited return, the Matheysin Museum is organizing an exhibition on the history of this little train from its inauguration in 1888 until its stop in 2010, including its mining and then tourist past.

Cultural heritage
The Matheysin Museum is a local history museum, created in 1994, is located in the Caral house, a mansion in the old town. “La Matacena” is the media library of La Mure, head of the local library network.

Paroramatheysine Exhibition
Inaugurated in 1888, the metric gauge from St-Georges de Commiers to La Mure finally serves the anthracite mines. From 1903, we experimented with the “world’s first high-voltage direct current electric train”! For travelers, the journey is memorable: ” The landscape had arisen, terrible, on all sides ” wrote JK Huysmans in 1898. On the borders of Matheysine and Trièves, the panorama fascinates passengers and photographers. The daring works of art cross the gorges of Drac and Mont Aiguille, the valley of Mottes and Pierre-Percée, the valley of the Roizonne and the Obiou to the Pays de Corps, its terminus from 1932 to 1947.

”The most picturesque route in the Alps” impressed Léon Gaumont’s film in 1902. The artists proclaim the beauty of the landscapes crisscrossed by this train, guarantor of the economic and industrial development of Plateau matheysin then of Valbonnais and Beaumont. In 1988, goodbye to black coal wagons. Now red, the electric locomotives and “1930” cars convey the tourist boom in Matheysine, promoted by new postcards and various works.

Matheysin Museum
Matheysin museum, Caral house, La MureAt the heart of the old town, nestles the Maison Caral which has housed the Matheysin Museum since 1994. The La Mure museum houses collections relating to Matheysine, Beaumont and Valbonnais. Archeology (prehistory, Gallo-Roman and medieval eras) and the Wars of Religion (Siege of La Mure in 1580) precede the rooms of miners, peasants, glovers and hawkers. These activities have made the reputation of this country of medium mountains between Grenoble and Gap. The last spaces deal with regional sculptors and painters from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Since 2012, a large part of the museum displays the work of the abstract painter Claude Garanjoud (1926-2005). The museum thus benefited from the donation by his wife of 385 works, which considerably enriched the museum’s fund and made it possible to modernize its collection. The visit is punctuated by the exhibition on Olivier Messiaen (a Matheysin summer visitor for over 50 years).

Municipal exhibition halls
The City of La Mure has rooms to accommodate the achievements of individual designers or associations. These spaces are kindly made available by the municipality, under certain conditions of duration, in particular for the room of the Sketch.

In the city center of La Mure, you can discover more than 120 local shops, most of them independent. For all the usual routine purchases, it is possible to obtain supplies almost exclusively in these stores where almost, all product categories are offered (food, clothing, shoes, household equipment, gifts, catering, personal care, health, etc. services,…).

Three large supermarket signs are also installed in the town. Add to these, a dozen specialized national brands, some of them freshly installed: clothing, shoes, DIY, toys, gardening, etc.

Every Monday morning, the largest market in Sud-Isère. On Monday morning, the weekly market also offers a wide range of products. Its scale may seem surprising, especially in summer, when the streets of La Mure are invaded by itinerant traders, customers and tourists. It is the largest market in all of Sud-Isère.

Gastronomic heritage

Muroise pie
The majority of bakeries in La Mure and the surrounding villages make their own pies, each with its own little touch, especially in the dough. It is also found in Murois caterers as well as butchers. Finally, most of the region’s supermarkets sell “local specialties” in their fresh section, matheysine pie as well as other local products.

This star specialty of the territory is eaten as a starter or main course, often accompanied by a good green salad. The most greedy can even taste in the same meal a portion of pie as a starter, followed by a beautiful piece of murçon!

Its beautiful color whets our appetite at a glance: it’s the puff pastry (or broken dough according to your preference) which delicately envelops the stuffing. This one is deliciously composed of veal and pork loin, which have been marinated overnight with white wine, thyme, bay leaf, olives, onions and mushrooms. Locals like to put tortilis, collected in secret corners of Matheysine, but button mushrooms are also very suitable.


The old hamlet of Rif Noisy
An immersive hike in the heart of a valley unchanged for decades, anchored in a landscape where rural traditions endure. Connected to the valley of the Roizonne by a “calade” path (coarse paving of wedged stones), the little-known Rif Noisy valley conceals unsuspected gems: discover the stone houses of the old hamlet with its rooftops. slate and its redons gables.

Natural heritage

Ecrins National Park
The Valjouffrey valley is made up of several stone villages whose charm and tranquility will transport you to this peaceful feeling of going to the end of the world. You enter the Ecrins National Park.

As you walk, admire the wild landscape that awaits you, with its steep cliffs and dizzying peaks. Up to the Pisse waterfall, enjoy a stroll without great difficulty along a stream with fresh and clear water descending directly from the surrounding mountains.

Go deeper into this unspoiled valley, in the heart of the Ecrins National Park where you become one with nature. The waterfalls are discovered as you climb to the Font Turbat refuge. The green meadow is gradually giving way to a more mineral world. The path becomes narrower and stony and the slope becomes harder in places.

Lake Brouffier
Next to the Poursollet road, overlooking the Alpe du Grand Serre. At the fourth hairpin bend, Chemin Bonniot is a forest hiking track. After a few minutes’ walk, the Cirque du Louvet is revealed: a unique place of its kind, where calm and nature reign supreme. Surrounded by mountains, the Cabane du Louvet acts as a refuge and life flows slowly, to the rhythm of the nearby river and waterfall. A nice trail begins to climb along the river. Little by little, the height that opens up the landscape. Below, the Cirque du Louvet, also the resort, the Grand Serre and the Vercors massif are starting to show up.

After a good hour of steady climb, here is the final objective of this hike: the Lac de Brouffier rests in a dream setting. Its crystal-clear waters are surrounded by mountains and we can guess just above the rocky ridge which gives access to the highest peak in the area, the Taillefer and its 2857 meters above sea level. The Brouffier ridge offers a direct view of Grenoble and its agglomeration. shepherds and herding dogs watch over no less than 1,200 sheep, which take advantage of these mountain pastures during the summe

Gillardes water sources
Nestled in the heart of the Pellafol forest, the Sources des Gillardes are the second water wave in France after the Fontaine de Vaucluse. Still a geological mystery today, summer and winter alike, the water flows there. They constitute the source of the Souloise which flows into Lac du Sautet.

80m from the car park, take the path through the undergrowth to reach this treasure of nature. As you approach, you will be guided by the powerful sound of the water. Once you arrive, an enchanted landscape opens up to you. In the middle of the forest, limpid and clear waters spring from the rock. Ideal place for a stroll or a picnic, let yourself be tempted by a moment of rejuvenation in this fresh and soothing setting.