CHALON-SUR-SAÔNE, a town of east-central France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Saône-et-Loire, 81 m. N. of Lyons by the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) 26,538. It is a well-built town, with fine quays, situated in an extensive plain on the right bank of the Saône at its junction with the Canal du Centre. A handsome stone bridge of the 15th century, decorated in the 18th century with obelisks, connects it with the suburb of St Laurent on an island in the river. The principal building is the church of St Vincent, once the cathedral. It dates mainly from the 12th to the 15th centuries, but the façade is modern and unpleasing. The old bishop’s palace is a building of the 15th century. The church of St Pierre, with two lofty steeples, dates from the late 17th century. Chalon preserves remains of its ancient ramparts and a number of old houses. The administrative buildings are modern. An obelisk was erected in 1730 to commemorate the opening of the canal. There is a statue of J. N. Niepce, a native of the town. Chalon is the seat of a sub-prefect and a court of assizes, and there are tribunals of first instance and commerce, a branch of the Bank of France, a chamber of commerce, communal colleges for boys and girls, a school of drawing, a public library and a museum. Chalon ranks next to Le Creusot among the manufacturing towns of Burgundy; its position at the junction of the Canal du Centre and the Saône, and as a railway centre for Lyons, Paris, Dôle, Lons-le-Saunier and Roanne, brings it a large transit trade. The founding and working of copper and iron is its main industry; the large engineering works of Petit-Creusot, a branch of those of Le Creusot, construct bridges, tug-boats and torpedo-boats; distilleries, glass-works, chemical works, straw-hat manufactories, oil-works, tile-works and sugar refineries also occupy many hands. Wine, grain, iron, leather and timber are among the many products for which the town is an entrepôt. About 2 m. east of Chalon is St Marcel (named after the saint who in the 2nd century preached Christianity at Chalon), which has a church of the 12th century, once belonging to a famous abbey.
Chalon-sur-Saône is identified with the ancient Cabillonum, originally an important town of the Aedui. It was chosen in the 6th century by Gontram, king of Burgundy, as his capital; and it continued till the 10th to pay for its importance by being frequently sacked. The bishopric, founded in the 4th century, was suppressed at the Revolution. In feudal times Chalon was the capital of a countship. In 1237 it was given in exchange for other fiefs in the Jura by Jean le Sage, whose descendants nevertheless retained the title. Hugh IV., duke of Burgundy, the other party to the exchange, gave the citizens a communal charter in 1256. In its modern history the most important event was the resistance offered to a division of the Austrian army in 1814.