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Coat of arms of Oyonnax
Oyonnax (France)
region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Department Ain
Arrondissement Nantua
Canton Oyonnax
Community association Haut-Bugey agglomeration
Coordinates 46 ° 15 ′  N , 5 ° 39 ′  E Coordinates: 46 ° 15 ′  N , 5 ° 39 ′  E
height 440-1,082 m
surface 36.18 km 2
Residents 22,427 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 620 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 01100
INSEE code
Website www.ville-oyonnax.fr

City Hall

Oyonnax [ ojɔnˌna ] is a French town and commune in the Ain department in the region of Auvergne Rhône-Alpes .

As the largest city in the French Jura , Oyonnax has developed from a comb-making town into a center of the plastics industry since industrialization.


Oyonnax is located at 540  m , about 85 kilometers northeast of the city of Lyon and 40 kilometers west of Geneva as the crow flies . The industrial city extends in the Haut- Bugey , east of the Ain valley in the Jura, in a wide valley basin on the Ange , at the western foot of the forest heights of the Hochjuras .

Oyonnax, in the background the Jura heights

The area of ​​the municipality of 35.98 km² covers a section of the southern French Jura. The central part is taken up by the valley basin of the Ange, which here has a width of about 2 km and forms a syncline in the Folded Jura . At Oyonnax, the Ange enters the valley basin from the east and drains it south to the Oignin . In the urban area of ​​Oyonnax there is a valley watershed; the northern section is drained by the Merdanson to the Bienne .

The eastern part of the municipality is located in the high relief area of ​​the Upper Jurassic Mountains, which geologically consist of a number of anticlines and synclines that are disturbed by various fault lines . The main feature east of the city are two deeply carved erosion valleys, namely the source valley of the Ange and that of its short side stream Sarsouille . In between is the forest height of the Rieremont ( 925  m ), south of the Ange der Haut Crêt (up to 960  m ) and in the far north of the Bois de Belmont (up to 1020  m ). Further to the east, the community soil extends over the ridge of the Forêt d'Oyonnax ( 1065  m ) to the Crêt Marquet , on which the highest elevation of Oyonnax is reached at 1082  m . The area is mostly forested. Between the ridges of the terrain, depressions and bog areas that are partly above ground run without drainage. In the extreme southeast, Oyonnax has a share in the moor lake Lac Genin .

To the west of the Oyonnax basin is the wide ridge of Veyziat (up to 660  m ). This is replaced by the Bouvent basin , which opens north to the Ain basin . In the far west lies the wooded ridge of the Massiat anticline ( 750  m in the Bois de Diesse ), which drops steeply to the Ain river valley.

In addition to the actual city and various outlying districts, Oyonnax also includes several villages and hamlets, namely:

  • Geilles ( 590  m ) in a valley basin on the Ange between Haut Crêt and Rieremont
  • Veyziat ( 610  m ) on the ridge west of the Oyonnax valley basin
  • Mons ( 620  m ) on a high plateau of the Massiat anticline
  • Bouvent ( 545  m ) on a leveled area on the north slope of the ridge of Veyziat
  • Massiat ( 500  m ) on the edge of the moorland below Bouvent
  • Chatonnax ( 550  m ) on the eastern slope of the ridge of the Bois de Diesse

The municipality is located southwest of the Upper Jura Regional Nature Park , with which it is associated as an official access point.

Neighboring communities of Oyonnax are Dortan and Arbent in the north, Échallon in the east, Charix , Apremont , Bellignat and Géovreisset in the south and Samognat in the west.


For a long time it was assumed that Oyonnax was a Greek foundation from around 500 BC, which was called Oyo Naxos (island of the sheep). This "island" would probably have referred to the peninsula at the confluence of the Lange and Sarsouille. Apart from the similarity of names, there was nothing to indicate the presence of the Greeks, and there is no evidence from the Celtic period in the area of ​​Oyonnax.

Recent historical research suggests that Oyonnax is a relatively young start-up. In the 11th century the region belonged to the powerful lords of Thoire-Villars. The monastery of Saint-Oyen in neighboring Arbent, which had been founded by the monks of Saint-Claude , was subordinate to them . The possessions of this monastery in the basin of today's Oyonnax were called oyenna (belonging to Saint-Oyen). Over time, the spelling changed from Oyennax to Oyonnax.

In the Middle Ages, Oyonnax was initially under the lords of Thoire-Villars before it came under the suzerainty of the Counts of Savoy in 1402 . With the Treaty of Lyon , Oyonnax came to France in 1601.

As early as the Middle Ages, the harsh climate and poor soil of the region prompted the inhabitants of Oyonnax to pursue other activities in addition to agriculture in order to generate income. This is how handicrafts and especially arts and crafts developed during the Middle Ages. Wood processing was initially important. In the 17th century the comb makers appeared for the first time, initially wooden combs, later those made of horn. Comb production shaped the economic life of Oyonnax in the 19th century, there were also mechanical workshops and silk processing. In the beginning the work was mainly done at home or in small workshops. In the second half of the 19th century, production was moved to factories.

The discovery of celluloid led to a major change in Oyonnax's industry from around 1880. The formerly important branches of industry were replaced by the manufacture and processing of plastic parts for a wide variety of uses, such as sack closures, pieces of jewelry, cigarette cases, buttons and glasses. In the course of time, production became increasingly mechanized and automated.

During the Second World War , Oyonnax formed a center for the maquis (resistance fighters) in the French Jura. On November 11, 1943, despite the German occupation troops stationed nearby, a parade of the Maquis took place in the city to mark their presence in the region.

Since the Second World War, Oyonnax has developed into a leading center of the plastics industry and has always adapted to the latest technology, which is why the valley is now called La Plastics Vallée (the "plastic valley"). This led to strong growth in the city. The former swampy sections of the valley have been drained since the 1950s, allowing Oyonnax to expand westward over the entire valley floor. A change of area occurred on January 1, 1973, when the two previously independent communities Bouvent and Veyziat were incorporated into Oyonnax.


The current town church of Saint-Léger was built in 1840. The modern architecture reflects the Notre-Dame de la Plaine church. One of the oldest preserved buildings in Oyonnax is the Maison Brunet, with a square tower that served as a mairie in the 19th century. Otherwise there is little to see of the old structure. In the center houses the Art Nouveau period received. Numerous buildings, especially the representative buildings of the local companies and the public buildings (town hall, cultural center) show the style of postmodernism with glass architecture . Oyonnax also owns various city parks. In the Musée du Peigne et de la Plasturgie, the industrial development of the city of Oyonnax from comb making to the modern plastics industry is shown.

The village church of Veyziat shows Gothic style elements, but was heavily modified in the 17th and 19th centuries. The Bouvent chapel is also Gothic. One of the natural attractions is the Lac Genin, which, with its surroundings, forms a popular recreational area.

St. Leodegar Church
Memorial to those who fell in the world wars


Population development
year Residents
1851 3,245
1881 3,847
1901 6.140
1926 11,617
1946 10.156
1954 11,773
1962 15,322
1968 20,265
1975 23,026
1982 22,739
1990 23,869
1999 24,162
2006 23,618
2011 22,459

With 22,427 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017), Oyonnax is one of the largest communities in the Ain department. The population growth of Oyonnax came in two strong spurts. The first significant increase took place in the period from 1880 to 1920 and occurred when the industry switched from combing to manufacturing plastics. In 1920 the number of inhabitants exceeded the limit of 10,000 for the first time. A second massive increase in population Oyonnax recorded between 1954 and 1968, in which the population doubled again. From the mid-1970s onwards, only minor fluctuations were recorded for a long time. The local residents of Oyonnax are called Oyonnaxien (ne) s in French .

Oyonnax is the center of an agglomeration that has around 36,000 inhabitants. The settlement area of ​​Oyonnax, the core of which was originally in the area of ​​the Lange and Sarsouille brooks, has meanwhile expanded over the entire valley basin and also extends up the surrounding slopes. Today the settlement area has almost completely merged with that of Bellignat in the south and of Marchon and Arbent in the north.


Today, Oyonnax is a flourishing industrial town in the Jura and counts (together with the suburbs Bellignat and Arbent) around 660 companies, which are divided into 14 different industrial parks. By far the most important industrial sector in the city is the plastics industry. The range of production ranges from household items, camping accessories, stationery, packaging material, industrial parts, glasses, toys and garden furniture to luxury items such as jewelry, artificial flowers and decorative materials. Major companies include Gilac, Grosfillex, Bollé and Smoby. There are also mechanical engineering, construction, precision engineering and textile industries.

culture and education

The modern building of the Center Culturel Aragon is located in the La Plaine district. It houses, among other things, the city theater, two cinemas, the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique, de Danse et d'Art Dramatique, the city library and the Musée du Peigne et de la Plasturgie, which is soon to be moved to the Grande Vapeur building, which was built in 1905. Oyonnax is also the location of Valexpo, a center for exhibitions and trade fairs.

In Oyonnax there are a number of pre-schools ( école maternelle ) and elementary schools as well as three comprehensive schools ( collèges ) and one upper secondary school ( lycée ) with an integrated vocational school. The Lycée Arbez Carme , a university for the plastics industry with a scientific and technological center for plastics and accessories, is located in neighboring Bellignat .

Entrance to the Stade Charles Mathon
Oyonnax train station


The city's best- known sports club is the US Oyonnax , which plays rugby union and is represented in the top 14 French league . The home games are played in the Stade Charles-Mathon with 8,500 seats.


The city is very well developed in terms of transport. It is on the main road from Montréal-la-Cluse to Saint-Claude . Other regional road connections exist with Thoirette , Arbent and Saint-Germain-de-Joux . Since November 1997, Oyonnax has been directly connected to the French motorway network with the 20 km long A 404 motorway. With the opening of this motorway, Oyonnax also received a bypass for transit traffic in the direction of Saint-Claude. The next connection is around two kilometers from the city center.

Oyonnax has a station on the railway line from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Claude, which is only served by two pairs of trains. Bourg-en-Bresse can also be reached by express bus. Another important feature is the new train station in Nurieux , 18 km away , which was built in 2010 and is served by a pair of trains on the Paris - Geneva TGV connection . In the valley basin north of the city is the Oyonnax-Arbent airfield, which, however, is already on the Arbent parish.

Community partnerships

Oyonnax has had a partnership with the German municipality of Eislingen / Fils in the east of Baden-Württemberg, not far from the state capital Stuttgart , since December 2001 . It goes back to a school exchange between the two cities that has been carried out since the beginning of the 1990s.


Web links

Commons : Oyonnax  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. French Statistics Institute ( www.insee.fr )
  2. ^ Oyonnax - notice communal. In: cassini.ehess.fr. Retrieved on June 14, 2015 (French, INSEE population from 1968 ).