La Balme-les-Grottes

Coordinates: 45°51′12″N 5°20′13″E / 45.8533°N 5.3369°E / 45.8533; 5.3369
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La Balme-les-Grottes
The Lavoir (Public laundry)
The Lavoir (Public laundry)
Coat of arms of La Balme-les-Grottes
Location of La Balme-les-Grottes
La Balme-les-Grottes is located in France
La Balme-les-Grottes
La Balme-les-Grottes
La Balme-les-Grottes is located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
La Balme-les-Grottes
La Balme-les-Grottes
Coordinates: 45°51′12″N 5°20′13″E / 45.8533°N 5.3369°E / 45.8533; 5.3369
ArrondissementLa Tour-du-Pin
IntercommunalityLes Balcons du Dauphiné
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Jean-Pierre Berthelot[1]
14.61 km2 (5.64 sq mi)
 • Density78/km2 (200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
38026 /38390
Elevation192–383 m (630–1,257 ft)
(avg. 210 m or 690 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

La Balme-les-Grottes (French pronunciation: [la balm le ɡʁɔt]) is a commune in the Isère department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France.


La Balme-des-Grottes is located some 32 km east by north-east of Lyon and 11 km south of Ambérieu-en-Bugey on the right bank of the Rhône. The Rhône also forms the departmental border between Isère and Ain. Access to the commune is by the D65 road from Leyrieu in the south which passes through the length of the commune and the village and continues north to join the D1075 west of Vertrieu. The D52B branches from the D65 in the commune and goes south to Saint-Baudille-de-la-Tour. The D52C also branches from the D65 at the same intersection and goes south-east to Charette. The commune is mixed forest and farmland with dense forests in the north-east.[3]

The Rhône river forms the entire western border of the commune with no crossing points anywhere in the commune. The commune is covered by a network of canals linked to the Rhône and the Ruisseau de Laye which is a minor loop of the Rhône.[3]

Neighbouring communes and villages[3][edit]


Neanderthal men from the Middle Paleolithic period left flint tools and food scraps in the La Balme caves. Around 15000/13000 BC, in the late Upper Paleolithic, Cro-Magnon hunters did the same in the shelter of the cave: flints and bones of reindeer, ibex, aurochs, and horses have been found.

From about 4000 BC, Neolithic farmers colonised the region leaving their polished axes, flints, and pots in Louvaresse and Travers. Collective graves and vases have also been found in the cave from that time. It was especially at the end of the Bronze Age that they left very important remains (1250-950 BC): numerous tombs with cremation urns and animal offerings have been found in crevices and under boulders in a large part of the cave. It is an underground necropolis of the Urnfield culture notable for its wealth of ceramic vases.[4][dead link]

Part of the archaeological material from all eras is displayed in the Heritage House at Hières-sur-Amby where it was sent in 1985 by the excavators.


Arms of La Balme-les-Grottes
Arms of La Balme-les-Grottes
The official status of the blazon remains to be determined.

Party per bend sinister wavy, at first Argent a dolphin Azure; at second Vert, an entry to a cave Argent charged with a church proper of 3 levels with the sinister wall mouvant windows open and a slope proper mouvant to dexter, over a path in bend sinister of Azure mouvant to base, with another path in bend sinister proper to dexter mouvant to base, in chief wavy of Azure; at the bend sinister wavy debruised by a bend sinister wavy of Azure charged with 6 ribbands wavy of Argent.


List of Successive Mayors[5]

From To Name
2001 2014 Didier Chapit
2014 2020 Martine Gabeure
2020 2026 Jean-Pierre Berthelot


The inhabitants of the commune are known as Balmolans or Balmolanes in French.[6]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 514—    
1800 558+1.18%
1806 568+0.30%
1821 654+0.94%
1831 644−0.15%
1836 741+2.85%
1841 850+2.78%
1846 892+0.97%
1851 912+0.44%
1856 869−0.96%
1861 863−0.14%
1866 819−1.04%
1872 759−1.26%
1876 649−3.84%
1881 608−1.30%
1886 588−0.67%
1891 602+0.47%
1896 510−3.26%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 461−2.00%
1906 452−0.39%
1911 446−0.27%
1921 405−0.96%
1926 384−1.06%
1931 345−2.12%
1936 310−2.12%
1946 330+0.63%
1954 408+2.69%
1962 426+0.54%
1968 393−1.33%
1975 438+1.56%
1982 531+2.79%
1990 588+1.28%
1999 675+1.54%
2007 887+3.47%
2012 936+1.08%
2017 1,060+2.52%
Source: EHESS[7] and INSEE[8]


Culture and heritage[edit]

Civil heritage[edit]

The commune has many buildings and sites that are registered as historical monuments:

  • Houses (16th-20th century)[10]
  • The Town Hall / School at Route de Lagneu (1882)[11]
  • The Chateau de Salette (13th century).[12] The remaining buildings of the former Carthusian monastery of Salette. The facades and roofs of the chateau are from the 19th century. In October 1299 Dauphin Humbert I of Viennois founded a monastery for women of which three buildings remain. During the French Revolution the monastery was sold and is home for some time to an earthenware factory. The chateau was built around 1870-1880 and preserves some decorations from that time.
  • The Chateau d'Amblérieu (ruins) (14th century)[13]
  • The War Memorial (20th century)[14]
  • Mills (17th-20th century)[15]
  • A Lavoir (Public laundry) (1879)[16]
  • The Chateau de La Serve (1818)[17]
  • The Chateau Delphinal (13th century)[18]

Religious heritage[edit]

The commune has several religious buildings and structures that are registered as historical monuments:

  • A Wayside Cross at Rue des Grottes (17th century)[19]
  • The Favre family Tomb (20th century)[20]
  • The Tomb of Eudoxie Gigard (19th century)[21]
  • The Péricaud family Tomb (19th century)[22]
  • The Cemetery (1865)[23]
  • The Priory of Notre-Dame (1660)[24]
  • The Chapel of Notre-Dame of the Grotto (12th century)[25] The Chapel contains a large number of items that are registered as historical objects.[25]
  • The Parish Church of Saint Peter (12th century)[26] The Church contains a large number of items that are registered as historical objects.[26]

Environmental heritage[edit]

The entrance to the Cave

Notable people linked to the commune[edit]

  • Laurent Clerc, founder of the first school for the Deaf in North America, born on 26 December 1785 in La Balme-les-Grottes.
  • Jean Roux, priest of La Balme, left a pre-Revolutionary "Journal" of great interest.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2021". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Google Maps
  4. ^ La Grotte de la Balme (in French)
  5. ^ List of Mayors of France (in French)
  6. ^ Le nom des habitants du 38 - Isère,
  7. ^ Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet La Balme-les-Grottes, EHESS (in French).
  8. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  9. ^ Copainspro website (in French)
  10. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000343 House 1 at D65 IA38000345 House 2 at D65 IA38000344 House 3 at D65 IA38000576 Houses IA38000128 Farmhouse at la Brosse (in French)
  11. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000051 Town Hall / School at Route de Lagneu (in French)
  12. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA38000001 Chateau de Salette (in French)
  13. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00117117 IA38000036 Chateau d'Amblérieu (in French)
  14. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000577 War Memorial (in French)
  15. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000342 Moulin du Pré du Moulin at Amblérieu IA38000341 Flour Mill at Travers (in French)
  16. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000339 Lavoir (in French)
  17. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA38000334 Chateau de La Serve (in French)
  18. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000037 Chateau Delphinal (in French)
  19. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000340 Wayside Cross at Rue des Grottes (in French)
  20. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000338 Favre family tomb (in French)
  21. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000337 Tomb of Eudoxie Gigard (in French)
  22. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000336 Péricaud family tomb (in French)
  23. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000335 Cemetery (in French)
  24. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000318 Priory of Notre-Dame (in French)
  25. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000315 Chapel of Notre-Dame of the Grotto (in French)
  26. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA38000115 Parish Church of Saint Peter (in French)
  27. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM38000014 Sarcophagus (in French)
  28. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM38000013 Funeral Stele (in French)
  29. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM38000012 Commemorative Plaque (in French)
  30. ^ Marius Riollet: "Review of tre History of Lyon" Vol. X, 1911 (in French)

External links[edit]