Route de Grandis

69870 ST. JUST d’AVRAY

This business still exists in 2018. The owner for many years was Paul DESMURE, and when he died in 1983, two company employees bought the business from his estate and continued to operate.

But the scope of this story is limited to the period 1932 to 1968 – from the origins up until the day when Paul Desmure – born on 20/02/1921 at St. Just d’Avray - was in full control.

The valley of the river Azergues runs through rolling rural countryside to the north-west of Lyon, between the river Saône and the hilltops of the Col des Echarmeaux. There are hilltop villages, and vines that produce Beaujolais wine. At the southern end of the valley there is quarried a yellow sandstone that gives the region its title of ‘Pays des Pierres Dorées’.

There are lots of villages – Lamure-sur-Azergues, St. Nizier d’Azergues, Cublize, St. Just d’Avray, Chambost-Allières (where the depot is in 2018) - but we will concentrate on GRANDRIS, a village 55 kms north-west of Lyon and 35 kms west of Villefranche, and terminus of the Grandris to Lyon route which is at the centre of this story. The village had a population of 1,444 in 1931 which had fallen to 1,145 in 2015.

Note that Grandris had competition from the smaller village of Lamure-sur-Azergues, 4 kms away, population 978 in 1931 and 1,048 in 2015, which was on the Paray-le-Monial – Lamure – Lozanne – Lyon railway route, fully opened in 1900 to take pressure off of the Paris – Lyon via Dijon line, but never electrified. Nowadays the TER 20 timetable contains 16 daily timings in each direction, but only 5 are trains: the other 11 are road-based TER services, and this goes a long way to explaining how so small a village has been able to benefit from the continuing presence of a bus and coach business.

Grandris carte postale

Services originating with Mr DORIEUX

11/12/32 – this was the date when Michel Dorieux declared the existence of his Grandris – Lyon service.
The mayor of Lyon had authorized buses to stop (permit n°186) at 7 stops in Lyon including Bellecour, Jean Macé and Cours de Verdun, and to lay over for 15 minutes maximum at Quai Jaÿr.

The service operated daily with one morning and one evening return and a journey time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Dorieux timetable circa 1932

The DORIEUX timetable  -  circa 1932

The authorities noted that the only competition on the route was the PLM rail service from Givors to Paray-le-Monial.
Mr Dorieux used a Renault SX Série 4  24 seater registered 8041 PF 3 and put into service on 04/05/32 – 2m20 wide weighing 3,200 kg empty and 5,000 kg with the maximum authorized load.
But in fact, two vehicles must have been used, as a second permit (n° 9) from the mayor of Lyon gave identical authorisations for a Renault 3YAB 15hp 8600 PF 4 seating 23.

04/10/36  -   Michel Dorieux (who we now learn was a cafe proprietor at St. Verand) sold Lyon – Grandris to a Monsieur Jean Perrin of RN 13, Villefranche sur Saone. No vehicles changed hands, and the sale price was 5,000 FRF. Mr Perrin then used a 22-seater on the route.

The 1936 sale

The 1936 sale

route map 1936

The route map in 1936, including the Valsonne service

Incidentally, and a little later on 01/01/38, Mr Dorieux sold his Lyon - Valsonne service to Mr Perret of Valsonne .
Dorieux may also have been involved in a business known as the Messageries de Tarare .

10/02/42  -  Very little correspondence relates to the war years. For the first time, Mr Perrin used the logo Cars de la Vallée d’Azergues, and he wrote to the Ponts et Chaussées to say that he was operating Grandris - Lyon with a 30 seater using Gaz de Ville, that the SNCF had cancelled the 17h30 and 19h00 departures from Lyon to Lamure, as a result of which his 18h30 departure from Vaise Place de Paris was full and he had to leave passengers behind. He requested an additional timing on Saturdays leaving Vaise at 13.00 and then returning Grandris>Lyon at 16.00. This was refused. The reply said “Lamure- sur- Azergues to Lyon is served by 3 SNCF returns daily, and that has to be sufficient.”

Letter 1942

10/04/47. As usual, operators were pressing for a return to pre-war frequencies. Perrin asked for 2 extra returns on Wednesdays, and one Tuesday mornings for the Bois d’Oingt market.

1947 map

A 1947 map of all five operators on the corridor Lyon Grandris

In July 1947 the authorities said yes – to a service frequency of one return Monday to Saturday plus a second on Tuesdays – not really what he had asked for!

June 1948 – a request for an extra Saturday return was granted. The CTD said that the PLAN DEPARTEMENTAL could allow 14 returns per week – Perrin was operating 7 plus this one makes 8 so that is all right. As I regularly say, refusals in these immediate post-war years are a reflection of rules designed to economise fuel, still a scarce commodity.

20/01/49 – more applications – for the summer – were authorized on 12/04/49. An extra Thursday service, and one at his customers’ request on Sundays, took his timings up to 10 (he was at 15 prewar). He was also authorised to divert the 12.15 service (on Tue Thu Sat Sun) via Lamure SNCF, providing a connection with the train.

28/04/50 – the need for a second Sunday return journey was so pressing that the Conseil Général 69 was lobbying for it to be put in place, and pointing out that prewar, there were 3 returns on Sundays. The stumbling block was the SNCF, who were vetoing because the coach undercut the rail fare – 3.45 FRF per km on the bus, 4.00 FRF on the train!  This dispute went up to the Ministry of Transport in Paris, and produced a slanted response from the SNCF that they were not against the timing as such but wanted a level fares structure.

Then the national CONSEIL SUPERIEUR DES TRANSPORTS (no less!) voted that the extra return should be authorised, by 4 votes to 2 (one of which was the representative of the SNCF) and 2 abstentions. The SNCF gave in, saving face by saying they were doing this against their better judgment in the interests of the travelling public. By this time we were in 1951, and on 05/03/51, Mr Perrin said he would initiate the second Sunday return at Easter (25/03/51), the Sunday timings being:
06.30 Grandris 08.00 Lyon 08.30 Grandris 10.10
18.00 Grandris 19.30 Lyon 20.00 Grandris 21.40

Sample fares were :-
Lyon – Civrieux – no traffic allowed
Lyon – Lozanne  80FRF
Lyon – Bois d’Oingt 125FRF
Lyon – Grandris 200FRF

Mr Jean PERRIN born at Bagnols (69) on 06/02/1897 took the first step towards selling his business, by leasing in to Mr Paul Marius DESMURE, born at St. Just d’Avray on 20/02/1921. As well as the route, included were premises at route de Thizy, Grandris, consisting of a garage/depot at ground floor level and an 8 roomed apartment above.

The lease ran for 4 years from 01/01/56, and included a promesse de vente (sale clause) that could be exercised at any time up until 31/12/58. If the sale took place, the price would be 4 million FRF.

The route frequency was currently 1 return on Mon/ Wed/ Thu/ Fri, 2 returns on Tue/ Sat/ Sun, and one summer extra on Thursdays.
The sale did take place, though on 29/06/59.

The rights bought were described then as:-
A route from Lyon to Grandris via Civrieux, with  2 returns daily, no pickups between  Lyon and Civrieux.  Current authorisations - 13 returns in winter, 14 returns in summer.

Paul Desmure would operate this route for 24 years.

Services originating with Mr AUPLAT

In 1935, Antoine AUPLAT  was using a 12-seater vehicle to run a service from Propières  to Poule. This route may have existed since 1904, but the evidence is tenuous. He was a correspondent for the PLM (there was a railway station at Poule) and he also received a subsidy from the PTT for carrying post.
After the war, his 1946 authorised timetable was just one return daily.

Propieres to Poule route in 1952

The Propières to Poule route in 1952

In 1947 he was authorized to run a market service from Propières to Chauffailles via Azolette on every Friday and on the 1st Thursday of the month. This required an extra 42 litres of fuel. Journeys had to be synchronized with the RSAR, who ran over the same route, to avoid unnecessary competition.
By 1952, Propières – Chauffailles had become one daily return :
Propières 07.30 – 08.10  Chauffailles 11.40 -12.20.

Propières to Chauffailles route in 1952

The Propières to Chauffailles route in 1952

In 1963 income on the Propières to Poule route was only 0.295 FRF per km

01/06/67 saw the end of postal services on Poule Propières . Another operator running a longer route covered the same villages, so it made sense for the PTT to avoid duplication. A reply from Paul Auplat (the son) said he would be losing income of 1.639,45 FRF for parcels and 3.415,95 FRF for post.. He would have to cancel the evening service, but would maintain the morning journey daily, and continue to meet all trains on Saturdays.

But on 31/12/68 he sold to Desmure.

Paul Antoine Auplat, born Propières 10/02/11, had inherited the business from his father Antoine (donation partage) on 09/10/40.

The routes sold were:-
Proprières – Poule:  1 return Monday to Saturday being run although more authorized
Propières – Chauffailles:  1 return Friday extended to Poule on 1st & 3rd Fridays (market)
Excursions - pickup limited to Rhône, all destinations in France authorized).
The price was 120,000 FRF (of which goodwill accounted for 65,000 FRF)
Four vehicles changed hands:
Chausson ANG     1958     3170BY69            estimated     11.500 FRF
MB 321H              1955     1365AT69                                17.500
MB 319                 1960     8350BD69                                12.000
Citroën U23           1960     6969BG69                                14.000

Propières is 20 kms north of Grandis, so presumably the business was considered a good fit, geographically.

Services originating with Claude PIVOT

Mr Pivot does not seem to have been on the best of terms with the authorities.

He ran three routes:-
St Just d’Avray – Villefranche  begun in 1925
St Just d’Avray - Bois d’Oingt & Tarare, begun in 1924
St Just d’Avray –  Amplepuis, begun either in 1924 or 1929. He used a 22-seater on this latter route, with a return that in December 1940 ran St. Just 12.45 – 13.45 Amplepuis 16.00 – 17.15 St. Just
     But he must have expanded his activity without authority to do so.

Pivot's routes

An amateurish outline of the Pivot routes – presumed to be at the moment of sale.

In July 1940 – the Ponts et Chaussées put their foot down.
ONLY the following timings were authorized: all departing from St Just
Oingt – 1 return on Tuesdays
Thizy – 1 return on Wednesdays
Tarare – 1 return on Thursdays
Villefranche – 1 return on Mondays
Amplepuis – 1 return on  Fridays
The main vehicle used was 1660 PF 8, a Citroën CG G1 12hp.
In reserve was 8404 PF, a Ford 22 seater.

Claude Pivot sold out to Paul Desmure on 24/12/45 with effect from 01/01/46.   
Included in the sale were the routes – Amplepuis, Villefranche, Tarare, Thizy, le Bois d’Oingt  plus a St Just local service operated jointly with Monsieur Large, and one vehicle – a Citroën 13hp chassis 722189 registered 3268 PG 2 and seating 23 + 7. NOT included in the sale was the business telephone number!!  The price was 150,000 FRF (including 50,000 FRF for goodwill).
Declared turnover and profits were:
1943    40.482        12.000
1944    35.215        12.000
1945    82.345        20.000

On 23/01/46 Paul DESMURE (as successor to PIVOT!) was advising the Ponts & Chaussées, Service Carburants, that he had to stop almost all services for lack of allocated fuel. The previous Pivot allocations were insufficient for all routes (Claude Pivot had simply stopped running when he had no more fuel). For 300 km per week, with vehicles guzzling 35 litres per 100 kms, 500 litres of fuel per month were necessary. Nothing more is to be found about the fate of these services…………….

Services originating with Joseph Large.

Joseph Robert Large was apparently a wine merchant (!), but in 1933 he started a route from St. Just d’Avray  to Tarare.

In 1940, and during the war years, there was a single Thursday return on that service, but two other services had been started – one to Amplepuis with a single Tuesday return, the other a town service for St. Jean d’Avray linking the Bourg and the Gare twice daily.

Then on 27/06/46 he sold to Mr Vignon.  Two vehicles were involved:-
9908 PF       a Luc Court  (20 seats + 4 standing)
4421 PF 7    a Luc Court (dating from 1936) 22 seats + 0

The price was 150,000 FRF of which 70,000 represented goodwill.

Luc Court lorry
Luc Court vehicles were quite rare. He was a Lyon engineer – but although his business lasted until 1972, he never recovered
from the war years and post-war ceased building chassis. The lorry in this photo is the kind of chassis that would have been used.

But this did not last long. Thirty months later on 24/01/49 Vignon sold exactly the same routes and timings to Paul Desmure for 250,000 FRF (of which 125,000 was goodwill). There must have been galloping inflation at the time.
The vehicle had changed. Now it was a Citroën P32 registered 5468 PG 5.

Services originating with Pierre DUPONT.

Pierre Dupont owned a hotel at Bois d’Oingt, in the heart of the Beaujolais
When he declared his services in 1934, he dated the oldest routes as beginning in 1928.

These were:
Meeting the trains at the PLM station – both passengers and freight
A Monday market service from Bois d’Oingt to Villefranche (fare 6,50 FRF, return 10FRF)
A Tuesday market service from Bois d’Oingt to Ste Paule (fare 4 FRF, return 7FRF subsidized by Ste Paule).

As at 20/03/1936 his vehicles were a Citroën 10, chassis n° 260883 10hp registered 330 PF 5 and new on 31/08/33, and a Citroën CG G1 chassis n°163835 12hp registered 412 PF 2 new on 26/06/30.
But the Citroën 10 was replaced by a Berliet 12hp diesel in July 1936.

By 1952, the Ste Paule service was only running once a week on Tuesdays, and it was Autocars Paget of Lyon who were operating it.  On 19/02/52 Paget said that Ste Paule would only be served on the 1st Tuesday of each month. It is stated that the service belongs to Desmure but is operated by Paget following a tri-partite agreement between Paget, Desmure and the Ponts & Chaussées.

1952 Paget letter

The PAGET letter in 1952

The services of Mr DUPONT passed somehow through the hands of Mr LUGUIN, Mr MERCIER and then Mr BORNAREL, between 1936 and 1948.
They were by 1948:
Bois d’Oingt to Ste Paule – 1 return Tuesday (Bois d’Oingt market day)
Bois d’Oingt to Villefranche – 1 return Monday (Villefranche market day)
Pouilly le Monial to Villefranche  (2 returns Mondays  (Villefranche market day)
Pilgrimages and excursions to Ars & to Paray le Monial
Gare – 3 daily returns– extended to Légny. The fare imposed by SNCF was 1,25 FRF (2,50 FRF return).  On 5 October 1940 this was increased to 2 FRF for the single journey (about 2 kms.)

Jean Bornarel of Bois d’Oingt sold all to Desmure except the Bois d’OIngt – Gare – Legny service which he continued to operate with a limousine, on 09/11/1948.

Services originating with François Guillaume OVIZE

François OVIZE was another hotel owner, running the Hôtel des Voyageurs at Lamure-sur-Azergues.
He ran one round trip on Mondays to the market in Villefranche, which he had started in December 1930, but he also had rights to excursions, taxis, ambulances in Lamure and the surrounding area.
No vehicles were included, and the sale was signed on 22/03/1950 at a price of 2,000 FRF.
Ovize had used 5234 PF 2, a Peugeot 12 seater – type 1593  11hp  4m50 long by 1m25 wide.
In a letter dated 01/02/47 (see below) Mr Ovize advised he was selling the service because of the impossibility of repairing his vehicle!!

François OVIZE’s letter of explanation

François OVIZE’s letter of explanation

In the 1965 Guide Relations Routières Chaix, the company was listed with just the one route, Grandris to Lyon.


Mr Desmure frequently changed the style of his logo. Here is an effort to follow the various changes.

cars de la montagne

It is understood  Paul Desmure set up in business as Cars de la Montagne in 1946. The title was certainly being used in 1950.

1955 logo

His logo in 1955.

1969 logo

His logo in 1969. It is understood “Cars de la Vallée d’Azergues” was first used in 1956 when he bought Cars Perrin.

1971 publicity
1971 publicity

1971 Publicity for Cars de la Vallée d’Azergues

rail timetable 1938
1938 rail timetable

And finally…………………………. The rail timetable for Lyon to Paray-le-Monial in 1938

Clive D’EATH  -  02/04/2018 

Note  -  this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information
Nota  -  Il s'agit d'un site d'archives historiques et ne contient pas de données actuelles