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Coordinates: 46°54′24″N 6°21′20″E / 46.90667°N 6.35556°E / 46.90667; 6.35556

Commune of Pontarlier

Pontarlier is located in France
Country France
Region Franche-Comté
Department Doubs
Arrondissement Pontarlier
Canton Pontarlier
Intercommunality Larmont
Mayor Patrick Genre
Elevation 811–1,323 m (2,660–4,340 ft)
(avg. 837 m/2,750 ft)
Land area1 41.35 km2 (15.97 sq mi)
Population2 18,360  (1999)
 - Density 444 /km2 (1,150 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 25462/ 25300
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Triomphal arch of the Porte Saint-Pierre

Pontarlier (Latin: Ariolica) is a commune and one of the two sub-prefectures of the Doubs department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France.



Pontarlier occupies the ancient Roman station of Ariolica, in Gallia and is placed in the Tables on the road from Urba (modern Orbe, Canton Vaud, Switzerland), to Vesontio (modern Besançon). Although the distances in the Antonine Itinerary do not agree with the real distances, French geographer D'Anville recognized a transposition of the numbers. The Theodosian Tabula names the place "Abrolica", which William Smith states as a possible error of transcription.

The city of Pontarlier is briefly mentioned in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. It was to this city that convict Jean Valjean was to report for his parole after being released from the gallies. Breaking these instructions is a major turning point in the novel, and also creates some major conflict for Valjean later in the story.

Pontarlier was famous for the production of absinthe until its ban in 1915. The distilleries switched over to producing pastis. With the ban partially lifted in the 1990s, distilleries are once again producing absinthe in Pontarlier.


Pontarlier was also a pionnière city of aviation. The beginning of the aeronautical history of Pontarlier took place on October 29, 1910 by Auguste Junod has edge of his Farman biplane of 50 cv. This first flight caused the admiration of the large crowd that had come to admire this magic machine. July 2 of the following year was marked by the arrival of 2 other machines has Pontarlier to carry out the first air meeting of Franche-Comté. This event attracted approximately 10.000 people. The aero club of Pontarlier was created only 20 years later, on March 12, 1930 by a handle of impassioned aviation. At that time, the association, chaired by Mr. Eugène Thévenin did not yet have a plane for lack of sufficient funds. Their actions were thus limited to propaganda in order to raise money. May 13, 1934 was a great day for the aero club, with the arrival of the first plane, a POTEZ 43, monoplane-three-seater of 100 CV baptized for the occasion "Ville de Pontarlier". A whole generation of apparatuses followed in continuation of this precursor. Today, the aeroclub took true flies away and for an aero club of province it is well equipped: 2 track of 1000 m whose one into hard and the other out of grass, as well as fleet of 4 planes of all types, has wing high, has wings low, two-seater, three-seater or four-seater.


Date of Population
(Source: Cassini[1] et INSEE[2])
1793 1800 1806 1820 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
3348 3771 3526 - 4254 4707 4922 4965 5136 4953
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
4909 5007 4945 4975 5714 6118 8098 7187 7577
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
7963 8776 9439 10,203 11,827 11,984 12,840 12,722 13,768
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2004 - -
15,382 16,442 17,983 17,781 18,104 18,360 19,321 - -
For the census of 1962 to 1999 the official population corresponds with the population without duplicates according to the INSEE.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PONTARLIER, a frontier town of eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Doubs, 36 m. S.E. of Besancon by road. Pop. (1906), 7896. It is situated 2750 ft. above sea-level on the Doubs, about four miles from the Swiss frontier, and forms an important strategic point at the mouth of the defile of La Cluse, one of the principal passes across the Jura. .The pass is defended by the modern fort of Larmont,. and by the Fort de Joux, which was originally built in the 10th century by the family of Joux and played a conspicuous part in the history of Franche-Comte. Pontarlier is the junction of railway lines to Neuchatel, Lausanne, Lons-le-Saunier, Dole and Besancon. A triumphal arch of the 18th century commemorates the reconstruction of the town after the destructive fire of 1736. It was at Pontarlier that the French army of the East made its last stand against the Prussians in 1871 before crossing the Swiss frontier. The distillation of herbs, extensively cultivated for the manufacture of absinthe, kirsch and other liqueurs, is the chief industry. The town is the seat of a subprefect and has a tribunal of first instance and a communal college.

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