Ain department

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Coat of arms of the Ain department
Finistère Côtes-d’Armor Ille-et-Vilaine Morbihan Loire-Atlantique Vendée Manche Mayenne Orne Calvados Maine-et-Loire Sarthe Indre-et-Loire Vienne Deux-Sèvres Indre Loir-et-Cher Eure Eure-et-Loir Seine-Maritime Oise Aisne Somme Pas-de-Calais Nord Ardennes Marne Meuse Meurthe-et-Moselle Haute-Marne Vosges Moselle Haut-Rhin Bas-Rhin Territoire de Belfort Cher Loiret Yonne Aube Côte-d’Or Nièvre Haute-Saône Essonne Yvelines Seine-et-Marne Val-d’Oise Hauts-de-Seine Val-de-Marne Seine-Saint-Denis Paris Doubs Jura Saône-et-Loire Allier Creuse Haute-Vienne Charente Charente-Maritime Corrèze Dordogne Gironde Puy-de-Dôme Loire Rhône Ain Haute-Savoie Cantal Lot Savoie Haute-Loire Isère Ardèche Landes Lot-et-Garonne Hautes-Alpes Drôme Alpes-Maritimes Var Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Vaucluse Bouches-du-Rhône Gard Hérault Lozère Aveyron Tarn Tarn-et-Garonne Gers Pyrènèes-Atlantiques Hautes-Pyrénées Aude Pyrénées-Orientales Haute-Garonne Ariège Haute-Corse Corse-du-Sud Vereinigtes Königreich Andorra Guernsey Jersey Niederlande Belgien Luxemburg Deutschland Liechtenstein Monaco Österreich Schweiz Italien SpanienLocation of the Ain department in France
About this picture
region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
prefecture Bourg-en-Bresse
Sub-prefecture (s) Belley
Residents 643,350 (Jan. 1, 2017)
Population density 112 inhabitants per km²
surface 5,756.44 km²
Arrondissements 4th
Community associations 17th
Cantons 23
Communities 393
President of the
Department Council
Jean Deguerry
ISO-3166-2 code FR-01
Location of the Ain
Location of the Ain department in the
region of Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

The Ain department [ ɛ ] (officially Département de l'Ain ) is the French department with the atomic number 01. It is in the east of the country in the region Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and was named after the river Ain named.


The Ain department is surrounded by the Jura , Saône-et-Loire , Rhône , Isère , Savoie and Haute-Savoie departments and also borders on Switzerland .

Ain is a department of geographical contrasts: the Bresse , a plain rising slightly to the northeast and bordered by the Saône , extends to the north- west, and the Dombes ponds and lakes , covered by over a thousand ponds , to the south-west . To the east, the mountains of the southern Jura rise brusquely over the Bressan plain and form the Bugey . The busy transport axes to Italy or Switzerland run in the valleys of the Jura mountain ranges. The area around Gex is separated from the rest of the department by the last eastern mountain range of the Jura. It extends to Lake Geneva and geographically belongs to its basin. The Saône represents the western border of the department. It is essentially fed by three tributaries: the Reyssouze (75 km), the Veyle (67 km) and the Chalaronne (52 km). In addition to the Séran (42 km), the main tributaries of the Rhône, which borders the département in the east and south, are primarily the Ain (190 km), which in turn is fed by 118 tributaries.

coat of arms

Description: A white four-leaf clover rests on the quartered coat of arms .

  • Field one in blue is a hermelin-colored lion standing to the left
  • Two field in blue, three gold toothed rails and a white shield head with a red growing lion,
  • Field three in blue three (2; 1) golden lilies between which there is a red oblique left-hand slump
  • Four field in red is an hermelin-colored lion

Symbolism: Lion with ermine pattern on blue = Gex
red lion and walls = Joinville family
Fleur de Lys and sloping beam = Dombes
lion with ermine pattern on red = Gentlemen of Bugey
silver cross


The first inhabitants settled in what is now Ain in 15,000 BC. BC. The menhir of Simandre-sur-Suran dates from this period . In 58 BC BC Caesar's military action against the Helvetians advancing towards Gaul in the area of ​​today's Ain marked the beginning of the Gallic Wars.

Under the Merovingians , Ain belonged to the Kingdom of Burgundy . At the beginning of the 6th century the diocese of Belley was established here . Large Benedictine abbeys settled in the valleys. In 843 Ain was added to the kingdom of Lothar I by the Treaty of Verdun . The first large fiefdoms (" Seigneuries ") arose around 895 to 900 in Bâgé and Coligny . Numerous feudal castles and hill forts were built. In the 12th century Romanesque architecture experienced its heyday.

As early as the 11th century, the Counts of Savoy settled in Valromey and the Belley region. In 1272 they received the Bresse and - through the Treaties of Paris of 1355 - the Dauphiné areas on the right bank of the Rhône and the Gex region. At the beginning of the 15th century, almost all of Ain was united under the Savoy flag. New monasteries were founded in the cities, churches were built or redesigned according to the Gothic architecture . At the beginning of the 16th century - the Duchy of Savoy was at the height of its power - Ain fell as an inheritance to Margaret of Austria , the widow of Philibert II of Savoy . The ruler built a late Gothic church and monastery in Brou . Bourg-en-Bresse became a bishopric .

After Margaret's death, the French King Francis I , a nephew of the Dukes of Savoy, claimed the duchy for himself and conquered Savoy in 1536. The future Ain department became French for the first time. As a result of a treaty concluded in 1559, Savoy and the Ain area were returned to the Duke, who immediately began to fortify his sovereign territory.

A short time later Henry IV conquered the region again, but the citadel of Bourg remained impregnable. The Treaty of Lyon of January 17, 1601 finally ended the conflict: Ain now belonged to the province of Burgundy within the Kingdom of France. Sculpture, painting and literature flourished in the 17th century. Roads and small industries developed in the 18th century. On March 28, 1762, the Earl of Eu , son of the Duke of Maine , entered the Dombes region to Louis XV. from.

The Ain department is one of the 83 departments that were formed on March 4, 1790 during the French Revolution. In application of a law of December 22nd, 1789 , four areas of Burgundy were combined : the Bresse, the Bugey , the Principality of Dombes and the Pays de Gex , as well as part of the Province of Franc- Lyonnais . The Pays de Gex belonged to the Léman department from 1798 to 1814 . Ain was divided into 9 districts, with 49 cantons and 501 communes. The French Revolution did not claim many victims in the department, but numerous extremely valuable historical monuments were destroyed. During the first consulate (1802) the districts were legally abolished. The Congress of Vienna dissolved the Léman department and added the Gex arrondissement to the Ain department.

While numerous churches were destroyed during the Revolution and the First Empire , the Diocese of Belley was re-established in the département in 1823. The pastor of Ars achieved fame. During the Second Empire , numerous churches were rebuilt, agriculture underwent profound changes, and the railroad developed. These economic developments also continued in the Third Republic .

Its removal from the front spared the department from the destruction of the First World War 1914–1918. However, the majority of the vineyards could no longer be cultivated and disappeared. The industrialization of the department began in Oyonnax and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine . The Genissiat dam was built in 1936. The Second World War 1939–1945 hit the Ain department with full force. The toll on the war was high: 600 people were deported, half of them never returned. The monument of the Maquis in Cerdon , the memorial of the children of Izieu and the Museum of the Resistance and Deportation in Nantua remind of this tragic period.

In the second half of the 20th century, industrialization in the département advanced, favored by a dense road and rail network. Six municipalities from the area around Lyon were added to the Rhône department in 1967.

From 1960 to 2015 it was part of the Rhône-Alpes region , which in 2016 became part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.



The largest cities in terms of population are Bourg-en-Bresse (41,527 inhabitants), Oyonnax (22,427 inhabitants), Ambérieu-en-Bugey (14,035 inhabitants) and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine (16,423 inhabitants, as of January 1, 2017, INSEE) .


The Ain department does not have a large city, but has a dense network of communities and towns. The number of inhabitants fell a little after the middle of the 19th century due to rural exodus , and much more sharply during the First World War . After the Second World War , the number of residents increased again. Due to the proximity to Lyon , whose suburbs touch the southwest of the department, and Geneva , whose surrounding area extends into the Pays de Gex, the department has experienced a strong increase in its population: from 339,262 inhabitants (1968) to 471,019 inhabitants (1990 ) and 638,425 inhabitants (2016). According to the French statistical office INSEE, the annual population growth between 1999 and 2006 was 1.35% (compared to 0.9% in the Rhône-Alpes region and 0.7% in France ). This increase was primarily due to a positive migration balance.

As a special feature, the French department does not have a designation of origin for its residents; instead, the historical provinces are used and, depending on their origin, Bressans , Bugistes , Dombistes or Gessiens are used.


Administrative structure

Communes and arrondissements in the Ain department

The Ain department consists of 4 arrondissements and 393 municipalities. Since 2016, the arrondissements of Gex and Nantua have only been run by one Sous-Prefect.

Arrondissement Cantons Communities Residents
January 1, 2017
Density of
population / km²
Belley 5 105 000000000121004.0000000000121.004 1,587.24 000000000000076.000000000076 011
Bourg-en-Bresse 12 199 000000000333734.0000000000333.734 2,864.74 000000000000116.0000000000116 012
Gex 3 27 000000000095070.000000000095,070 404.85 000000000000235.0000000000235 013
Nantua 5 62 000000000093542.000000000093,542 899.61 000000000000104.0000000000104 014
Ain department 23 393 000000000643350.0000000000643.350 5,756.44 000000000000112.0000000000112 01

See also

Prefect Corps

Arnaud Cochet prefect since August 2016
Philippe Beuzelin Secretary General, Sub-Prefect of the Arrondissement of Bourg-en-Bresse since April 2017
Julien Kerdoncuf Head of Cabinet and Sub-Prefect since July 2006
Pascale Preveirault Sub-prefect of the Belley arrondissement since September 2015
Benoît Huber Sub-prefect of the Arrondissement of Gex since September 2015
Benoît Huber Sub-prefect of the Arrondissement of Nantua since September 2016

Mayor of the largest cities and the main towns in the arrondissements

city Mayor (party)
Bourg-en-Bresse Jean-François Debat (PS)
Oyonnax Michel Perraud (DVD)
Ambérieu-en-Bugey Daniel Fabre (DVD)
Valserhône Régis Petit (UMP)
Belley Pierre Berthet (DVD)
Gex Patrice Dunand (DVD)
Nantua Jean-Pierre Carminati (DVD)

Conseil départemental (Department Council)

The Conseil départemental is the elected parliament of a French département and shares important powers with the prefect sent by the central government.

Although the department is structurally conservative, it is the center-left politician Jean Saint-Cyr who headed the departmental council for almost two decades after the Second World War. In 1976 the right succeeded in changing power. Their hegemony continues until the PS under Rachel Mazuir can recapture the department in 2008.

In the cantonal elections in March 2011, the left was able to expand its majority to 27 seats (19 divers gauche , 7 PS, 1 PRG) against 18 of the conservative opposition (8 UMP, 4 Groupe indépendants et démocrates , 4 divers droite ).

The most recent elections in November 2015 saw political power shifts and the renaming of local institutions. As in all of France, the most important body in the department is now called conseil départemental instead of conseil géneral , the elections in which these bodies are determined are élections départementales instead of élections cantonales . The conservative lists ( Union de la Droite et du Center ) won 42 of 46 seats (24 UMP, 11 divers droite, 7 UDI ), the left opposition only had 4 (2 PS, 2 divers gauche ). The current President of the General Council is Jean Deguerry ( LR ).

Conseil régional (regional council)

After the last administrative reform, the region's competencies were expanded, for example in transport or in economic development, and the Rhône-Alpes region merged with the Auvergne region. In the subsequent regional election in 2015 , the Republican right emerged as the clear winner in the Ain department, 7 of the 14 regional councils belong to LR or UDI . The Left has 4, the Front National 3. This reverses the situation from the previous election.

The main elected representatives of the Conseil régional are on the side of the conservative Étienne Blanc , mayor of Divonne-les-Bains for 27 years and first vice-president of the region. On the left, Jean-François Débat, mayor of Bourg-en-Bresse for 10 years, deserves a special mention.

Members of the Senate and the National Assembly

Following a redesign in 2012, the Ain department now sends 5 members to the French National Assembly instead of 4 . Before 2017, the last time a member of parliament won a mandate that did not belong to the republican right was in 1997. The yellow wave of Emmanuel Macron was also noticeable in the Ain department, with the two former socialists Olga Givernet and Stéphane Trompille, two constituencies fell to LREM . The three Republican MPs are Xavier Breton, Charles de La Verpillière and, best known, Republican Vice-Chairman Damien Abad .

The three senators of the department are Sylvie Goy-Chavent (UDI), Patrick Chaize (LR) and Rachel Mazuir (PS).



With an unemployment rate of 5% (compared to 7% in the Rhône-Alpes region and 8% nationwide), a close-knit network of around 11,500 small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs ) and an above-average, export-oriented economy (main customers: Germany, Italy and Spain), the Ain department is one of the most economically dynamic regions in France.


In stark contrast to its rural image, the Ain department is highly industrialized. In addition to a large number of SMEs, several major international companies are based in Ain (e.g. Roset-Cinna, Grosfillex, Carrier, Smoby-Berchet, CIAT, Renault Trucks, Tréfileurope). With more than a third employed in industry and construction, Ain ranks 6th among the industrialized departments nationwide. It holds the top position within the Rhône-Alpes region. Small and medium-sized enterprises make the greatest contribution to the industrial development of the department. While companies with more than 500 employees account for only 27% of those employed in industry, companies with fewer than 100 employees account for 47% of those employed.

Half of those employed in industry, with the exception of construction, work in one of the three major branches of the department: the plastics processing industry, the agro-industry and mechanical engineering.

With the plastics processing industry , which is mainly located around the town of Oyonnax, the department has an efficient branch of the economy that has had an excellent reputation for many years. The " Plastics Valley " comprises 10% of the plastics processing industry in France and thus has the highest concentration of plastics processing companies in Europe. 349 companies are based here. They employ around 11,000 people, more than a quarter of those employed in the secondary sector (excluding public construction). In the Oyonnax basin, three out of four workplaces are directly or indirectly linked to the plastics industry.

The agricultural industry, which is particularly concentrated in the geographical basin of the Bresse, has 5,056 employees (figures from 2006). In the Bourg-en-Bresse area , it represents a fifth of the industrial workers who work in slaughterhouses, the meat industry in a broader sense and in canning factories. The mainstay of the agro-industry is an efficient agriculture, which produces numerous quality products in the region, as well as the presence of some leading companies in the branch. The poultry industry, which is so characteristic of the Bresse , employs only 350 people, while most of the agro-industry involves industrial meat processing. In 1992 the city of Bourg-en-Bresse, the Ain department and the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry founded the technology platform " Alimentec ". Her tasks include applied research, technical support, technology transfer and technical college education in the field of agro-industry. Alimentec's activity is particularly focused on three axes: ventilation systems, plastic packaging and applied hygiene.

The département also owes its industrial network to the metalworking industry (cables, wire drawing, electrical wires) and mechanical engineering (automobile bodies, the most important pole in France in the field of truck manufacture). Significant companies such as Tréfileurope, Alcatel Cables and Renault Trucks testify to this. The foundry, metalworking and electrical industries employ around 8,200 people. Due to the diversity of the activities carried out and their distribution over the entire area of ​​the department, polarization effects as in the field of the plastics industry have so far not occurred.

With more than 12,900 employees, public construction represents a significant part of the economy. Around a quarter of those employed in industry work here. The future development of the construction sector is favored by the economic and demographic upswing in the department.

Thanks to the large forest area (over a third of the area of ​​the department), the timber industry employed around 4,500 workers in September 2007.

The nuclear industry is also present in the department. The Bugey nuclear power plant produces around 4.2% of French electricity, employs more than 1,350 people and also secures numerous jobs at the supplying companies. Every day between 300 and 1000 foreign workers work in the nuclear facility. Their importance to the local economy should not be underestimated. There are also economic relationships with CERN in neighboring Switzerland .

Finally, Ain has several industrial zones . In addition to the “Plastics Valley” and numerous smaller industrial areas that were founded on local initiative, the 700 hectare industrial park on the Ain plain deserves a special mention, which will certainly become one of the heavy industrial centers of the Rhône-Alpes region.


Diversified agriculture (cattle and poultry farming, dairy farming, grain farming, vegetable and wine growing), which employs 3.6 percent of all employees in the department, produces products of national and international renown. The Bresse chickens , the blue cheese from Gex , Grièges and the Bresse, carp and pike from the Dombes and the wine from the Bugey should be mentioned here.

The total number of farms in the department is 5,170, including 2,750 full-time farms . Over the past 25 years the number of farms has steadily decreased. In 1979 there were 14,600 companies, in 1988 11,320 and in 2000 there were still 6,320 companies. The agriculturally used area extends to 268,361 ha, including 150,917 ha of arable land and 118,000 plant cultures (pasture land, viticulture, orchards and tree nurseries). The value of agricultural production in the department is € 545 million. 52% of this (€ 274 million) relates to animal products (cattle, sheep, pigs, Bresse chickens, carp, milk), 44% (€ 240 million) to plant production (cereals, oil plants, wine, vegetables and flowers) (Source: Ain Chamber of Agriculture, 2006).


The commercial sector includes 5861 companies. These include 717 wholesalers and middlemen (12.2%), 539 automobile dealers and workshops, and 1643 retailers and repair shops (28%) With 22,973 employees and a further 9,000 self-employed, the retail sector makes an important contribution to employment in the department (source: Ain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2006). More than three quarters of the annual expenditures of private households amounting to € 4.4 billion flow into trade within the department. By and large, this is able to hold its own against foreign competition.


The rapidly expanding service sector represents 46.6% of companies and employs around 55,000 people (source: Ain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2006). Since 2003, the service industry has had the most employees. Within the service sector, corporate services represent 33.2% of employees. IT consulting and IT services are becoming increasingly important . Education, health and social services are also in demand. They represent around a quarter of those employed in the service sector.


More than 9,000 artisan businesses testify to the special importance of this sector for the department. Handicrafts have always been an essential component of the local economy. It employs an estimated 29,000 people. Within the craft, the manufacturing sector is predominant. This is followed by the construction, service and food sectors.


In economic terms, tourism in the Ain department represents an annual turnover of € 300 million and 10,000 direct jobs (of which 6,665 employees). There are also around 10,000 indirect jobs. In December 2006, 2.9% of all employees in the department were employed in the tourism industry (source: Committee for Tourism in the Ain Department, 2006).

In 2006, 700,000 tourists visited the attractions of the Ain department (346 classified monuments, including the famous Brou church in Bourg-en-Bresse, numerous museums, natural parks and hiking areas). During the winter of 2006/2007, the lack of snowfall severely restricted winter sports activities. The number of day-trippers was 238,200 (180,500 alpine skiing and 57,700 cross-country skiing). Previously, the average was 465,000 day trippers per winter.

Angling and cycling tourism (27 circular routes with a total of 1,500 km) attracts numerous visitors every year. The tourist infrastructure is good and varied. The accommodation industry has around 1,100 facilities (hotels, campsites, country inns (so-called " gîtes "), holiday apartments and guest rooms, etc.). Their total capacity is 40,850 beds. During the 2006 season, 2,500,000 overnight stays were registered in the accommodation industry, compared with 2,700,000 in 2002 (source: Committee for Tourism in the Ain Department, 2006).

The department has 15,000 registered hunters, of which around 3,500 to 4,000 hunt in the Dombes, one of the best regions in France for hunting waterfowl.

One of the additional tourist offers is a visit to CERN in neighboring Switzerland, which gives the department additional money.

Finally, gastronomic tourism should also be mentioned. A number of excellent restaurants of international renown can be found in the department, such as the restaurant of the French celebrity chef Georges Blanc in Vonnas .


The Ain department is served by more than 4,000 km of transport routes. It is on the route of the major national and European flows of goods and is therefore an important transit region. In addition to a well-developed network of former national roads, which were transferred to the département in 2007, the département is criss-crossed by 220 km of motorway. The international airports of Lyon (Saint-Exupéry) and Geneva (Cointrin) are available for domestic and international flights . In addition, Ain also has waterways with the Rhone and Saône , which are mainly used to transport construction materials (e.g. gravel). The main port is on the Saône in Jassans-Riottier . Three TGV lines of the French rail network cross the department: the Paris-Geneva connection with stops in Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde, the Paris-Lyon connection via the Saône Valley without stopping in the department and the Lyon-Geneva route with a stop in Bellegarde-en-Valserine. The regional TER network is particularly important for the connection to Lyon.

Research and Teaching

The Ain department has several universities and research institutes that are located in Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellignat . In the University Studies Center, which has been relocated from the Jean Moulin Lyon III University to Bourg-en-Bresse, 540 students study six different branches of study: 4 DEUG (diplôme d'études universitaires générales = 2 years of study) in law, modern foreign languages ​​(English-German; English-Spanish), economic and social administration and business administration as well as a license (= 3 years of study) and a maîtrise (= 4 years) in the field of law, the latter with a specialization in commercial and business law.

Another 700 students are being trained to become technical college engineers at the Alimentec nutritional research and technology center in Bourg-en-Bresse (departments: biology, energy science, computer science and biotechnology) or at the Commercial College of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bourg-en-Bresse. There is also a branch of the Lyon Faculty of Education in Bourg-en-Bresse, which has 450 places for future teachers.

In  1992 , in Bellignat, in the heart of the “  Plastics Valley ”, an engineering college was established under the Ministry of Youth, Education and Research. The “Ecole Supérieure de Plasturgie” offers space for 140 future plastics engineers and has a multidisciplinary research laboratory. This has been recognized by the ministry since 1999 and trains advanced students and doctoral candidates.

Web links

Commons : Département Ain  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. "Ain: Jean Deguerry remplace Damien Abad à la présidence du Département" , France 3 , July 10, 2017th
  2. Faut-il trouver un nom pour les habitants de l'Ain? In: Regional newspaper “Le Progrès”. Retrieved June 5, 2015 (French).
  3. Plus de sous-préfet à Nantua: qu'est ce que ça change? ( [accessed February 6, 2018]).

Coordinates: 46 ° 2 ′  N , 5 ° 18 ′  E