||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (December 2008)|
Foothills of the Jura
|Intercommunality||Pays de Gex|
|• Mayor (2001–2014)||Étienne Blanc|
|• Land1||33.88 km2 (13.08 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||250/km2 (640/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||01143 / 01220|
|Elevation||464–1,447 m (1,522–4,747 ft)
(avg. 509 m or 1,670 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Divonne-les-Bains is a spa town situated on the border with French-speaking Switzerland, between the foot of the Jura mountains and Lake Geneva. It is situated in the Pays de Gex, about eight km from Gex, from which the area takes its name. Divonne is about 20km from Geneva to the south-west and 15km from Nyon to the east. Since 2012 Divonne forms part of a wider agglomeration known as "Grand Geneve".
Divonne became popular as a spa in the 19th century. The golf course was built in the 1930s. Many of its present-day amenities - casino, hippodrome, open air swimming pool and artificial lake (Lac de Divonne) - were built after 1945. The Casino de Divonne was opened in 1954. A cultural centre by the lake (L'Esplanade du lac) was completed in 2005. Divonne used to host a small chamber music festival every summer, centred on its tiny theatre and the Domaine de Divonne. The Chateau de Divonne, now a hotel, was the site of Divonne's medieval castle.
A short way above the town there are several natural springs. These were appreciated by the Romans, who built an aqueduct of about 11km from Divonne to Nyon to supply water to their garrison. Many traces of this aqueduct have been found, and continue to be found and excavated, often as new building developments are undertaken (see, for example, this note from the Roman Museum at Nyon).
The town is home to over 8000 people (2011), some 23% of whom are classified as immigrants - i.e. were not born in France, a high figure reflecting Divonne's proximity to, and involvement with, the international community centred on Geneva.
There is a lively market on Sundays and a succession of cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
Divonne was the terminus of a railway line linking it to Gex and Bellegarde, and thus eventually to Paris. The line from Bellegarde was inaugurated in 1889, and eventually closed by SNCF in 1980, against the will of the Ain departmental administration. From 1905 Divonne was also linked by rail to Nyon, via Crassier on the border. The line was closed during the Second World War, re-opened in 1949 and finally closed in 1962. Divonne railway station can still be seen in the town centre, although its future is now in some doubt as the Divonne council considers ways to develop the area surrounding and including the station. An SNCF administrative office still functions in the station for the purchase of tickets from any SNCF departure point.
Since 2012 a new bus service operates connecting Divonne to the Swiss rail network at Coppet, offering a fast link to Geneva.
A regular bus service runs between Divonne and Bellegarde.
The present-day thermal spa is built on the site of a diamond-cutting works, powered by a water wheel on the Divonne river which still turns today.
The town is well provided with recreational facilities including a 50m open-air swimming pool, football pitches, tennis club, golf course, and a 3.3 km path around the lake for walkers and cyclists, with exercise points. Along a path between the lake and Hippodrome there is an interesting representation of the sun and planets of the solar system, made to scale. Each planet is shown with its astrological symbol and a brief summary of its composition, mass, density distance from the sun, and relative size to Earth.
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