Public Description of St. Genis, France

Title: Public Description
Location: St. Genis, France
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General Description:

Saint-Genis-Pouilly is a commune in the Ain department in eastern France.

It is located in the Pays de Gex, at the foot of the Jura. Bordering the Swiss frontier, it is part of the cross-border area of Geneva. Because of its population, it is one of the ten most important towns in the department of Ain.1 Its inhabitants are known as Saint-genésiens.

A large portion of CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, is located in the territory of Saint-Genis-Pouilly. CERN is one of the top locations in the world for fundamental research and it is the presence of CERN that has been responsible for the development of the community since the middle of the 1960s.


Saint-Genis-Pouilly is composed of two market towns (Saint-Genis and Pouilly) and two hamlets (Pregnin and Flies). The two market towns have both continued to expand and now practically merge together into one, however the two hamlets still remain separate from each other and from the two towns. The altitude of the commune varies from 419 m (at the extreme south of the commune, to the confluence of the rivers Allandon and Nant de l’Ecra) at 502 m (at the extreme north of the commune, in the village of Flies). The commune is situated at the limit between the plain and the first rising of the Jura. As indicated on the map opposite, the communes surrounding Saint-Genis-Pouilly are: Thoiry, Sergy, Crozet, Chevry, Prévessin-Moëns and Dardagny (Swiss).
Communes bordering Saint-Genis-Pouilly
[edit] Hydrology

Many water courses traverse or border Saint-Genis-Pouilly: Lion, Allondon, Nant de l’Ecra, Bief de la Janvoin, Ouaf, Grand Journans and Petit Journans. In 2005 and 2006, these water courses were subject to a ban on water extraction as a result of the drought. In 2004, only the Allandon and the Lion would have been restricted.2 The depth of the Allandon is measured at Saint-Genis-Pouilly by a network HYDRO station which transmits these readings by telephone.3
[edit] Climate

The meteorological station situated at Geneva International Airport, Cointrin, furnishes measurements of the weather relevant to Saint-Genis-Pouilly. This station is situated only 6.5 km from the centre of the commune and at a similar altitude (420m).4 Data from this station is available in real time from MétéoSuisse.

Saint-Genis-Pouilly, like the whole of the Pays de Gex and the Canton of Geneva, knows the touch of the Joran, the cold wind which descends towards Lac Léman from the high Jura, where it sometimes provokes a storm.
[edit] Natural risks

According to a study 5 made in 2002, commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and the Forests of Ain, Saint-Genis-Pouilly is classed in a zone at risk from flooding. According to another official publication,6 the commune is classed in a zone at risk from torrential downpours and rapid flooding. However, according to the list of major risks 7 to Saint-Genis-Pouilly published on the portal of the website of the Ministry of Ecology, “Prevention of major risks”, the commune is classed in a zone at risk from overcrowding from man’s activities. These three different qualifications of risk cannot be explained.

Along with the other communes in the canton of Gex, Saint-Genis-Pouilly is classed in seismic zone Ib, which is to say that the seismic risk is low.8 A new classification is being prepared by the Ministry of Ecology,9 but it does not seem that this will significantly change the classification of the communes in the Pays de Gex.
[edit] Nature zones

That part of the Allandon valley which is found within the territory of the commune constitutes a natural zone with interesting ecology, fauna and flora (ZNIEFF type I).10

The commune is lightly wooded (the area occupied by trees is between 10 and 20%11).
[edit] History

It was in 1887 that the actual name, Saint-Genis-Pouilly, first appeared on the State civil registers. Previously, Saint-Genis-Pouilly was called Pouilly-Saint-Genis. Before that, the two towns were separately identified. The spelling Saint-Genix had been quite frequently used. Pouilly was a little Roman city which probably took its name from the Latin Appolliacum.

In his historical Atlas, G. Debombourg placed Pulliacum in the epoque of the second reign of the Bourgogne (879-1032) and he placed the church of Pouilly-St-Genis on the religious maps.12 In these “Preuves” he cites a text of 993 which mentions Pulliacum.13

A diary of 1698 mentions a certain Balthazard as a noble of Prengin, in the Pays de Gex (perhaps this is the name given during this epoque to the current hamlet of Pregnin). Between 1601 and 1789 mention is made of the Baronnie of Saint-Genist. 14

Names of the area with a Gallo-Romanic origin, Polliacum, Pulliacum, derived, with the suffix -acum from the root name Paulius or Pollius15.

It is probable that under the Roman occupation the church in the village was to be dedicated to Apollon.

Towards the end of this time, Saint Genis took on a greater importance. Its takeover of the Postes Royales (next to the current chapel) commenced the growth of the town and Pouilly-Saint-Genix became Saint-Genis-Pouilly.

Pregnin figures in the Procès-verbaux du Directoire16. The name of Saint-Genis, as in the case of Saint-Genis-Laval, probably comes from Saint-Genest, a Roman comedian from the second half of the IIIe century, martryed under Dioclétien.17
[edit] Roman period

The Roman colony Colonia Iulia Equestris founded by Julius Caesar between 50 et 45 BC extended as far as Thoiry and included the territory which was to become Saint-Genis-Pouilly.

The villa of Pouilly had been occupied by a rich family, as evidenced by the jewelry found there.18

The place called les châtelets, situated to the north of Pregnin took its name, without doubt, from the presence in the 2nd century of a small fort situated on the Roman road running along the Jura.19
[edit] Middle Ages

A priory was established at Pouilly at the end of the 10th century.20

In 1301, Uldric, the Seigneur of Saint-Genis renewed his allegiance to the Dauphin.21
[edit] 18th century

The map of ancient Geneva by Cassini, with the measurements taken by Calon de Felcourt between 1759 and 1761, shows the town of Pouilly, the hamlets of Pregnin and Flies, and also the windmill at St Genis can be identified. The road from Lyon to Geneva and the fork towards Gex are also clearly visible. These roads, easily identifiable by the route they trace through the Pays de Gex, still exist today.
[edit] Notable events

A few (albeit rather rare) events in the history of the commune :
Year Event
1590 The château of Pouilly was destroyed by order of the Conseils.22
1591 The Spanish army of Don Olivaros sacked the Pays de Gex with sword and fire.23
1601 With the whole of the Pays de Gex, Saint-Genis-Pouilly was reattached to France.
Restoral of the fiefdom of Saint-Genix by Françoise of Lambert.24
1662 The Protestant temple of Pouilly was destroyed on 30 November by order of the Evêque of Geneva.25
1722 The Seigneurie of Saint-Genix was ceded to the Evêque and the Prince of Geneva.26
1887 First mention of Saint-Genis-Pouilly as the name of the commune.
[edit] Today

It was the extension within France of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), in the middle of the sixties, which made Saint-Genis-Pouilly the little town “coquette”27 that it is today. It is also thanks to the presence of CERN that the local economy has considerably increased and diversified.
[edit] Coat of arms

Until recently, the commune used an azure coat of arms with three gold towers. Today, the commune uses exclusively a modern logo which figures prominently on the pages of its Web site and in its publications.


Description author: Tim Sage (Request Authorship Credit)


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