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History of the Pays Graylois

The Saône: a centre of population and trade


The name "Saône" comes from the Celtic word "Sauconna". From Gallo-Roman times, this transport route was an important trading centre that acted as a link between the Germanic countries and the Mediterranean lands.

In the Middle Ages, the river port of Gray was one of the leading commercial ports in Franche-Comté. The Gray Region contained many resources that were transported on the Saône: the wood from its forests was even used for Colbert's royal fleet !

 In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Pays Graylois was one of the centres of the Haute- Saône steel industry, and a few sites still remain: the Pesmes steelworks, which are open to visitors, the Beaujeu steelworks, the Bley (commune of Auvet-la-Chapelotte) and Echalonge (commune of Essertenne) steelworks.


Pesmes steelworks
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Ray-sur-Saône - River landing stage
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River landing stage

Architectural heritage : a reminder of a bloody past and of periods of prosperity


The Ognon and Saône valleys are home to a number of strategic sites on which fortified castles were built, of which some defences (ramparts) remain today : Champlitte, Gy, Marnay, Gray, Pesmes and Ray sur Saône.

In Haute Saône, most of the area's medieval heritage was destroyed. However, a number of medieval monuments remain, such as the Leffond Chapel in Charcenne (13th Century) and the Saint Christophe church in Champlitte La Ville (11th Century).

Then, in 1678, Haute-Saône became part of the Kingdom of France, marking the beginning of an era of peace and prosperity.

In the 18th Century, a large number of classical churches were built with domed bell towers: the Saint Martin church in Bucey lès Gy and the church in Malans.

In the 19th Century, the period of prosperity enjoyed by Haute-Saône led to the construction of new, utilitarian buildings: over 2000 fountains, wash-houses and cattle troughs were built !

Amongst the most practical of these were the town hall - cum-wash houses, some of which are well worth a visit (town hall-cum-wash houses in Beaujeu, Dampierre-sur-Salon, Vantoux and Longevelle, etc) !


Pesmes
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Champlitte
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Source : Pays Graylois sustainable development charter - Cabinet IAD - Feb 2003



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