La Grand-Combe

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La Grand-Combe
Town hall
Town hall
Coat of arms of La Grand-Combe
Coat of arms
La Grand-Combe is located in France
La Grand-Combe
La Grand-Combe
Coordinates: 44°12′40″N 4°01′46″E / 44.2111°N 4.0294°E / 44.2111; 4.0294Coordinates: 44°12′40″N 4°01′46″E / 44.2111°N 4.0294°E / 44.2111; 4.0294
Country France
Region Occitanie
Department Gard
Arrondissement Alès
Canton La Grand-Combe
Intercommunality Pays Grand’Combien
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Patrick Malavieille
Area1 12.01 km2 (4.64 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 5,187
 • Density 430/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 30132 /30110
Elevation 169–623 m (554–2,044 ft)
(avg. 188 m or 617 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.

La Grand-Combe is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.


The town lies on the opposite bank of the River Gardon d'Alès from Les Salles-du-Gardon. It is 13 km upstream and north of Alès in the Cevennes gardoises.


In French "combe" is a feminine noun derived from the Celtic noun cumba meaning valley. The feminine form of the adjective grand would suggest the use of a final "e", but here it uses the archaic form derived directly from Latin- this can also be found in the spelling of "grand-mère", and "grand-rue" and in the place name La Grand-Croix (Loire), Grand was the traditional spelling but the "e" was added to modern French in an attempt to harmonise the treatment of all adjectives. The name of the town took the spelling of la Grand’Combe but this has now been changed to la Grand-Combe.


This is a town which grew out of the industrial revolution, The commune was created in 1846, carved out of the communes de Laval, Portes, Sainte-Cécile-d'Andorge, and Les Salles-du-Gardon. It became the seat of the canton 12 years later in 1858. During the Middle Ages, the valley was one of the cradles of the Cevennes coal industry, but it really was not until around 1780 on the initiative of Pierre-François Tubeuf that industrial mining techniques were used. Shafts were sunk, and the galleries were supported with wooden pit-props.

The Compagnie des Mines de la Grand’Combe et des chemins de fer du Gard was formed in 1836 by Paulin Talabot (1799–1885). By 1841, the Cevennes line had been built through la Grand-Combe and Alès. The line was extended to Brioude via Chamborigaud in 1867.

The company was successful providing coal for the French Navy and merchant marine. It adopted the trademark of an anchor. Domestic coal was also shipped to Marseilles.

This was very much a company town, and the workers were provided for from birth to death with good wages, free accommodation, heating, education, a Catholic church (1856 to 1864), and a chapel (1868) at Trescol for the Protestants.

After 1918, the town tended to elect mayors who were independent of the company. These were in the main socialist, or more recently communist. Though strikes were frequent, the company produced just under 1 million tonnes of coal annually. Coal was nationalised in 1946, and the companies regrouped modernized the more profitable mines. The Houillères du bassin des Cévennes had its peak year in 1958, when 20,000 workers mined 3.3 million tonnes of coal. Then in 1960, the town had 17,000 inhabitants, and numerous modern subsidized housing units and apartments were constructed, especially in Trescol. Today, Trescol has assisted area status(ZUS) due to it high unemployment rate.

The mines closed in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1968, Rochebelle àt Alès closed, and in 1978, the Richard and Destival mines. Finally, in 1984, the Oules mine, so by 1985 there was no coal being mined in the Cévennes. The Richard mine was classified a historic monument on 14 May 2008. The population fell to 5187, and unemployment remains at 40%.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1846 4,011 —    
1851 4,730 +17.9%
1856 6,315 +33.5%
1861 7,780 +23.2%
1866 9,362 +20.3%
1872 8,872 −5.2%
1876 10,152 +14.4%
1881 12,138 +19.6%
1886 11,341 −6.6%
1891 13,141 +15.9%
1896 13,358 +1.7%
1901 11,484 −14.0%
1906 11,292 −1.7%
1911 11,547 +2.3%
1921 11,232 −2.7%
1926 12,378 +10.2%
1931 12,116 −2.1%
1936 12,343 +1.9%
1946 14,165 +14.8%
1954 14,565 +2.8%
1962 14,440 −0.9%
1968 13,240 −8.3%
1975 10,452 −21.1%
1982 8,329 −20.3%
1990 7,107 −14.7%
1999 5,800 −18.4%
2008 5,187 −10.6%

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