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Triumphal arch of the <i>Porte Saint-Pierre</i> (St. Peter's Gate)
Triumphal arch of the Porte Saint-Pierre (St. Peter's Gate)

Pontarlier (French: [pɔ̃.taʁ.lje] ; Latin: Ariolica) is a commune and one of the two sub-prefectures of the Doubs department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France near the Swiss border.


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.

After the Burgundian invasion in the 5th century, Pontarlier became an unavoidable way of trade from the kingdom of Burgundy to Switzerland, Germany or Lombardy. Until the 17th century it lay on the easiest way to cross Jura mountains.

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 galleys. Breaking these instructions is a major turning point in the novel, and also creates some major conflict for Valjean later in the story. The city is also the main location of the 1962 French film The Seventh Juror.

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




  • Triumphal arch of the Porte Saint-Pierre (18th century) ;
  • Gate of the ancient church of the Annonciades (18th century) ;
  • Stained glass created in 1976 by painter Alfred Manessier for Saint-Bénigne Church;
  • Municipal museum, place d'Arçon ;
  • Fort de Joux beautiful castle (between 11th and 19th century) ;

International relations

Pontarlier is twinned with:

  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Switzerland|h16|w16|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland[2]
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Germany|h14|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany
  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//|// 1.5x, // 2x|Spain|h15|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Zarautz, Spain

See also

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