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Wappen von Boulay-Moselle
Boulay-Moselle (Frankreich)
Region Grand Est
Department (No) Moselle (57)
Arrondissement Forbach-Boulay-Moselle
Canton Boulay-Moselle (main town)
Community association Houve-Pays Boulageois
Coordinates 49° 11′ N, 6° 30′ ECoordinates 49° 11′ N, 6° 30′ O
Height 202–365 m
Area 19,59 km²
Inhabitants 5.591 (January 1, 2018)
Population density 285 inhabitants/km²
Postal code 57220
INSEE code
Website Ville de Boulay-Moselle

Template:Infobox commune in France/maintenance/alternate coat of arms in Wikidata

Saint-Étienne Church

Synagogue in Boulay

Boulay-Moselle (short for Boulay, GermanBolch) is a French commune of 5591 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2018) in the Moselle department in the Grand Est region (Lorraine until 2015). Until 31 December 2014, it was the capital of the arrondissement of Boulay-Moselle (sub-prefecture) and of the canton of Boulay-Moselle. Since 2015, it is in the arrondissement of Forbach-Boulay-Moselle, The inhabitants of Boulay call themselves Boulageois. Their nicknames are Rachborn or Ratschborn, meaning fountain of chattiness.[1] also “Bolcher Saaslecker”.


The small town of Boulay is located east of the Lower Valley, about halfway between Metz and Saarlouis. Since 1973, the district of Halling-lès-Boulay (German: Hallingen), located three kilometres southeast of the core town, has belonged to Boulay-Moselle.


Boulay was first mentioned as Bollei in 1184, then as Bolke in 1293, Bolchen in 1487, and Bolichen in 1576. In 1321 the village was granted town rights; since 1614 it was the seat of a county and fell to France in 1766. The castle – built in place of a medieval fortress – perished in the French Revolution. In 1861 Bolchen had 2968 inhabitants.[2]

Like the other communes of the Moselle department, Boulay was ceded to the German Empire in 1871 in accordance with the preliminary peace of Versailles (Art. 1) and received the official name of Bolchen as part of the Alsace-Lorraine Empire. Around 1900, Bolchen had a Protestant church, a Catholic church, a synagogue, a chief forester’s office and was the seat of a district court.

After the First World War, the commune was annexed to France under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, but became Bolchen again during the Second World War under German occupation. During the fighting towards the end of the war in November 1944, the village was largely destroyed.


Annual population figures during the period of affiliation to the Reichsland Alsace-Lorraine (1871-1919)
Year Population Notes
1872 2870 [3]
1890 2281 [2]
1900 2137 mostly catholic inhabitants[4]
1905 2202 [2]
1910 2218 [2]
Number of inhabitants since the end of the Second World War
Year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2007 2017
Inhabitants 2985 3314 3830 4336 4422 4374 4711 5587

Places of interest

The church of Saint-Étienne (a former collegiate church dating from the 18th century) houses a famous organ from the nearby Cistercian abbey of Villers-Bettnach, built in 1729 by Joseph Le Picard.

The Jewish community of Boulay-Moselle built a new synagogue in 1952 on the site of a destroyed neo-Romanesque building dating from 1854. There is also a Jewish cemetery in the village.

The banlieue Saint-Jean, a former military housing area, is internationally known as the “ghost town of Boulay”. The secrecy of the authorities and the police make the place a place of pilgrimage for “ghost hunters”.


The macaroons of Boulay.


On 4 June 2006 Boulay celebrated 40 years of active partnership with the Upper Swabian town of Mengen.


  • Kaspar von Niedbruck (1525-1557), diplomat in the service of Ferdinand I and Maximilian II and Reformation-minded humanist
  • Charles von Villers (1765-1815), officer and philosopher
  • Julius Joseph Neumann (1836-1895), priest and member of the German Reichstag
  • Robert Schuman (1886-1963), politician, lived in Boulay in 1910
  • Bernard Aubertin (* 1952), organ builder


  • Friedrich Toepfer: Supplements. VIII. The Lords of Bolchen. In: ders. (editor): Urkundenbuch für die Geschichte des graeflichen und freiherrlichen Hauses der Voegte von Hunolstein, vol. II. Jacob Zeiser, Nuremberg 1867, p. 464-467(Google-Books)

Web links

Commons: Boulay-Moselle– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Passé-Présent : La Moselle dévoilée N°5 (Janvier-Février 2012)
  2. a b c d M. Rademacher: German Administrative History from the Unification of the German Reich in 1871 to the Reunification in 1990 (online material for the dissertation, Osnabrück 2006)
  3. Complete geographical-topographical-statistical encyclopaedia of Alsace-Lorraine. Containing: the cities, towns, villages, castles, communities, hamlets, mines and ironworks, farms, mills, ruins, mineral springs, etc. with information on the geographical location, factory, industrial and other commercial activity, the postal, railway and telegraph stations and historical notes, etc.. Edited according to official sources by H. Rudolph. Louis Zander, Leipzig 1872, Sp. 7(online)
  4. Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon. 6. Auflage, Band 3, Leipzig/Wien 1905, p. 174(