Le Pont-de-Claix, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Le Pont-de-Claix is a French commune located in the department of Isère, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Pont de Claix owes its name to the Pont Lesdiguières, a 17th century structure classified as a historic monument and listed among the 7 wonders of Dauphiné. It spans the Drac and connects the town to its neighbor Claix.

The town is part of the geographical area of production and processing of “Bois de Chartreuse”, the first AOC of the wood sector in France. Pont de Claix is located in the south of the Grenoble metropolis, between the Vercors massif to the west and that of Belledonne to the east. It has an area of 5.6 km2 and an altitude of 245 meters.

When it was created in 1873, Pont de Claix was just a hamlet of 1,032 inhabitants. Its population hardly changed until the 1950s when the city’s industrial development led to the reception of many immigrants. From 3,458 inhabitants in 1954, the city rose to 5,066 inhabitants in 1962, then 10,084 inhabitants in 1968. Since the 1990s, its population has stabilized. Today, Pont de Claix has nearly 11,000 inhabitants.

Historically, Pont de Claix is an essentially industrial town. Almost a third of its territory is occupied by a chemical platform, which was for a long time the main employer of the municipality, thus permeating generations of Pontoise families.

A sword of the Middle Bronze Age was found on the floor of the town at a place called the Jump of the monk. It is kept at the Gap museum.

After several failures, François de Bonne (the future Duke of Lesdiguières) finally seized Grenoble in December 1590. He will then initiate several modernization works in the Grenoble region. Among them, the construction between 1608 and 1611 on the Drac du Pont de Claix or Pont Lesdiguières.

This little architectural gem responds directly to the demand of market gardeners from the fertile plains of Claix who at the time needed to cross the Drac to sell their products in Grenoble.

In 1871, Le Pont-de-Claix became an independent municipality More than two centuries after the construction of the Lesdiguières Bridge, a new, wider and above all less steep bridge was built downstream from the Vieux Pont Lesdiguières. At the same time, the industrial papermaker who has set up his factory on the outskirts of the Drac obtains a small hamlet near the Pont. The hamlet in question, which saw the number of its inhabitants increase with the arrival of paper workers, will become Pont de Claix by a law ofJune 25, 1873, promulgated in the official journal on July 2.

Three years later, the station was put into service to serve the Alps line. It was not until 1911 that a town hall was built at the end of the Cours Saint-André, at a height of 246 meters.

Under the impetus of the First World War, a chlorine plant intended for the manufacture of combat gas was built in Pont-de-Claix. Subsequently, the site will become the chemical platform of Pont-de-Claix, notably housing the Rhône-Poulenc entity, named after the French chemical and pharmaceutical group created in 1928. The chemical platform of Pont-de- Claix currently has nearly 800 employees, including 550 employed by the company Vencorex, the others are divided between the companies Extracthive, Seqens, Solvay, Air Liquide and Suez.

The first HLMs were built in 1953. The city then had 3,500 inhabitants, three times more than at the beginning of the century. The last census drawn up in 1 st January 2013 indicates 11,386 inhabitants.

The town’s main industry is chemicals with Rhône Poulenc, formerly PROGIL (PROduits GILLet), an industrial site classified as Seveso. Until the end of the 1960s, there was a manufacturer of radio and television equipment: Célard.

There is a hydraulic research activity with the Grenoble Study and Research Center created in 2007. The US company Medtronic has a factory in the town of surgical needles.

Historical heritage

Lesdiguières bridge
The Pont-de-Claix bridge, or Lesdiguières bridge, is cited among the seven wonders of Dauphiné. Still medieval in appearance with its humpback roadway, its unique arch with a span of 46 meters and 16 meters high represented at the time a real technical feat. Originally, one could read engraved in the rock two Latin inscriptions: UNUS DISTANCIA JUNGO (Unique in my length, I unite ) and ROMANA MOLES PUDORE SUFFUNDO (I make Roman buildings blush with shame). It is classified as a historical monument by decree of May 27, 1898.

Water tower
The water tower, which for decades has dominated the city from the top of its promontory, was illuminated and decorated for the July 13, 2013When the city celebrated its 140 th anniversary.

Strong house of Marcelline
The stronghold of Marcelline, today transformed into a farm on the way of the Hills, is mentioned in the inventory of 1339

Religious heritage
In the Catholic religion, the St. Stephen’s Church, built in the xix th century even before the town exists, was replaced in 1960 by the Church of the Resurrection. The Muslim religion is practiced in a prayer room. The town does not host a temple or synagogue.

Cultural heritage
Place Michel-Couëtoux, the Amphitheater, a 220-seat performance hall, faces the Aragon municipal library, inaugurated just after the poet’s death.

Espace Histo Bus Dauphinois
The Espace Histo Bus Dauphinois, is a French museum dedicated to public transport in Grenoble and its region. It has been open since October 2, 2006in a former factory in Pont-de-Claix, and is managed by an association, Standard 216 Histo Bus Grenoblois. Its exhibition area is 2,600 m2. In 2020, it conserves and restores 38 vehicles, most of which belong to the Standard 216 Histo Bus Grenoblois association, as well as a certain number of objects related to public transport: models, postcards, driving position, various objects…

Located at the crossroads of Avenue Charles de Gaulle and the line of the Alps, on the right bank of the Drac, the museum is distinguished by a fresco painted on its facade. Given its management by volunteers, the museum is open mainly by reservation, with openings to the general public on the occasion of the Night of Museums in Isère, which takes place around mid-May, and European Heritage Days in September.

The Grands Moulins de Villancourt
At the edge of Échirolles stand the old mills of Villancourt. It was at the very beginning of the 1870s that the brothers Abel and Louis Dorel, grain merchants in Grenoble, had a mill built to process wheat. Built on a bypass canal from the Romanche, destroyed by fire in 1871, it was immediately rebuilt and extended into an industrial flour mill, and became the basis of an industrial and commercial concentration. The old flour mill has housed the Jean Wiener inter-municipal music conservatory and an exhibition hall since 1982. In 2017-2018, the site came under the responsibility of Grenoble Alpes Métropole, with the aim of devoting a center for scientific culture to it.

Pont-de-Claix and literature
In 2000, published by Albin Michel Jeunesse, a new episode of the collection “The Furet Inquiry” entitled “Menace sur la ville”. This novel written by Frank Pavloff tells the story of Yannick Lerufet, a young nomadic man, to unmask the murderers of a man found dead in a canal near Vizille. His investigation will then lead him to the Pont-de-Claix chemical platform…

Performing Arts
Theater, music, dance, cove, song… are to be discovered at the Amphitheater, the center of the City’s cultural program (place Michel Couëtoux – 220 seats). But the public also has an appointment with the live performance at the Municipal Foyer (avenue du Maquis de l’Oisans – 400 places), at the library (place Michel Couëtoux), in the Jean Moulin social centers (12 rue doctor Valois) and Irène Joliot-Curie (27 avenue Antoine Girard) or at the Maison de l’Inhabitant (avenue des Îles de Mars).

Exhibition spaces
Painting, sculpture, photography… the City of Pont de Claix hosts many exhibitions, free and open to all. Every year, at the time of the Solstice festival, the Saint-Étienne church (avenue du Maquis de l’Oisans) welcomes the works of painters, sculptors and amateur photographers from the town.

Created in 1982, at the instigation of the Cities of Pont de Claix and Échirolles, the Jean Wiéner School of Music (85 cours Saint André) is a public institution of specialized artistic education, approved by the State, located in Mills of Villancourt. The school is open to children from the age of 5, teenagers and adults (depending on availability), beginners or not. It offers a complete and structured training for learning music. The main mission of the CRI (Conservatory with intercommunal influence) Jean Wiéner is thus to provide as many people as possible access to a variety of quality musical practices leading to independent practice. It is also a place of resources for teaching, practices, creation and dissemination.

The market takes place every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Place des Alpes. It is the meeting place and supply for many inhabitants of the south of the metropolis. Its traders offer food products, vegetables, caterer, sweets, bread, clothes, shoes, accessories, bazaar, flowers…

Natural space
Natural space are spread over the town, in particular Borel Park to the south, whose hill topped by a water tower dominates the city and helps give an identity to the territory. Newer and further north, Simone Lagrange Park, named after the resistant and former deportee, offers 1.5 hectares of greenery in the heart of the Minotiers district. The latter will completely redesign the face of the north of the town, transforming several wastelands into a new residential area (2,000 housing units planned over 20 years) with services and activities.

Several parks and squares offer spaces of greenery and relaxation in the heart of the town, inculded Jean de La Fontaine Park, Colombe Park, Borel Park, Simone Lagrange Park…. Just like the green spaces scattered throughout the town, they are maintained by the City’s public space service, in the interests of respecting the environment: differentiated management of green spaces, zero phytosanitary products used, alternative means of weeding, water from rain collected for watering…

Allotment gardens, 55 plots are cultivated by amateur gardeners along the Drac canal. They are managed by social centers. Shared gardens, In the heart of the Îles de Mars-Olympiades district, a shared garden and an educational garden are managed by the social centers. These places invite residents to get involved and come and share moments of relaxation and discussion around gardening. Entertainment is regularly offered there.