The Coat of arms of Usson :
Arms quartered with Dauphiné of Auvergne (Forez), the weapons of the Rochebaron family, lords of Usson and the streamer of Auvergne

By strolling down memory lane, we come across many traces of the tumultuous history of Usson-en-Forez.

By its geographical situation, Usson has always been a centre of conflicts: At the beginning, three tribes: Arvernes, Segusiaves and Vellaves, share the land ; later, it was divided in two - Forez and Auvergne - according to their geographical situation (the three quarters of the "borders" of the commune face Auvergne). The villages were subject to either the statute law in the South (franco provencal rights) or the common law in the North.

Usson, "Mysterious"

Our history was formed by the Roman conquest, the medieval wars and the political and geographical reorganization of the French revolution. A long history characterized by frequent upheavals, deeply marked the character of the local people, history that goes back to old times of which some remains are preserved.

Usson. What is the origin of the name ?
We can only guess. In the 4th Century., the writings of the German monk Peutinger mentions Icidmago between Moingt (Aquae Segetae) and St-Paulien (Reuessione) ; It probably corresponds to our hamlet, founded by Gaul Iccius. Some historians, like Gregoire de Tours, saw in this name a deformation of the name of the Vasso goddess, adored by the Gauls. Others, like Auguste Bernard the Younger, spoke of the existence of a famous pagan temple : Ussonium restored towards 235 by the emperor Jules Maximin and his son Jules Verus, as indicated by the inscription written on the milestone of Bolène Way, milestone discovered in the surroundings of the hamlet of Grangeneuve. In 1172, Rotlandus, monk of the priory of Chambriac (daughter of the famous abbey of Chaise-Dieu), was prior of Iccion ; in 1258, Albertus de Rota, was prior of Ussomo ; in 1299, it was written Ucionem ; in 1314, Uczon and in 1315, the parish of Ussom is mentioned.

At the time of the French revolution, "en Forez " was added to the name of Usson by in order to distinguish it from other localities bearing the same name, like Usson close to Issoire, in Puy-in Dôme, where queen Margot was imprisoned.

The royal decree of Louis XVIIIth, dated from June 26, 1822, by mentioning the limits of the departments of Loire and Puy-de-Dome, fixes the territory of the commune.

Let us return to ancient times. The many "stones carved by man in the form of a basin or a cup ("cupules") and the fixed polishing stone of Daniecq, remain a mystery. They attest a human presence in the Palaeolithic time. The very recent discovery of tiles, ceramics, coins, shows the existence of a Gallo-Roman habitat which would be located between the Bolène way and the Way of César, a few hundred metres from our village. A milestone was discovered close to the hamlet, confirming the roman influence of the places. At the time of its discovery, the carved text was translated as follows :

"L’empereur Julius Caïus Cesar
Verus Maximus pieux
Heureux Auguste, grand pontife (revêtu de la puissance tribunitienne)
Proconsul notre excellent prince,
Et son fils Caïus Julius Verus
Maximus Noble Cesar
Prince de la jeunesse
Had the 30 kilometres ways restored"

Usson, "Tumultuous"

The end of the Roman Empire was marked by a period of tensions. The borders of the town were unceasingly disputed. The castle, built in stones by the lords of Baffie, during the XIth century. was besieged, in 1361, probably by Armand IX of Polignac and was plundered.

About 1380, the Viscount of Polignac continues his exactions : the castle and the major St-Barthelemy church are again ransacked, the furniture destroyed, and also the files which are missing today.

After him come the Rochebaron, The De La Roue, the Hérail and Pierrefort families, but they aren’t interested in their land.

The life, in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries was ruled by plagues, famines, wars for the great misfortune of the people. The Revolution created many splits among the population and the clergy. The counter-revolutionary gangs established at the limits of the 3 departments, the Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dome, known under the name of "Companions of the White Ganse ", were as cruel as the Revolution.

Usson, "Working"

Since then, the area to survive had to mix traditional agriculture, craft (weaving and lace) and seasonal emigration. The pit sawyers and the navvies used to come back to the district for farming. They were nicknamed the “criminals", You can see their history in the Museum.

The fairs and the markets, the comings and goings of the railroad (the highest line of Company Paris-Lyon-Marseille: P.L.M.) dictated life. During the evening gatherings (“Les veillées”), people used to talk about the time of the pitch ovens (very characteristic of our area), while the numerous mills continued to work along the rivers Ance, Chandieu and Andrable (see our heading " Heritage "). Women, in addition of being lace makers, made straw wrapping (“paillons”) (packing in rye straw used for the carriage of bottles and of fragile goods). The history of the lace makers and of the “paillons” is evoked in a lively way in the Museum.

In 1801, with 3 578 inhabitants, divided between the town and nearly 60 villages, Usson was the 6th biggest town of the department (french administrative subdivision), whereas St-Bonnet-Le-Château counted only 1506 inhabitants and Saint-Etienne, approximately 18 000! These difficult living conditions explain the rural migration.


The population has declined, but, contrary to many towns, Usson-en-Forez kept a dynamic agricultural activity. Moreover, new families have settled in recent years, enjoying the lack of pollution and chaos of the city life. The number of school children is a sure sign.

Rich in history and tradition, Usson can look toward its future.

Associations culturelles Usson-en-forez

Associations culturelles Usson-en-forez

Restaurants Usson-en-forez