Echaillon Stone


Lion of the grand staircase of Brochon castle, near Dijon, France. Yellow Échaillon. By Christophe.Finot — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0

Local native name

Pierre de l'Échaillon

Year designation



Limestone; bioclastic grainstone to packstone (Dunham 1962)


White, light pink and light yellow

Geological settings

Mesozoic – Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous, Platform margins from the Vercors Massif H10


Downstream of Grenoble, on the left bank of the Isère River, Dep. Isère

Lion of the grand staircase of Brochon castle, near Dijon, France. Yellow Échaillon. By Christophe.Finot — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0

French limestone used since the Roman period

Échaillon stone was in use in Gallo-Roman times, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Grenoble (Debelmas 1990). Production appears to have temporarily ceased towards the end of the eighteenth century. Operations resumed and were developed from 1848 by Etienne Bernard, and then, in 1853 by Jean François Papet-Biron and his son Pierre Papet-Biron. Since 1873, the grandson, Georges Biron, together with Jacques-Aimé Milly-Brionnet (and with his sons later on) have opened quarries whose products have gained a high reputation and were sent to all regions of France and abroad.
Original quarries were located at the bottom of the valley at River level but due to the folding of the quarried strata, mid-nineteen century operations had to move some hundred metres above. To extract the stone, first open pit and later, huge underground cavities were created and steep funicular railways were built to lower stone monoliths to the workshops close to River level.
Difficulties of access to the quarries, lack of manpower after the First World War, and introduction by Vicat of ‘moulded cement’ as a replacement for building stone (especially in the Grenoble area where it was first introduced), were amongst the reasons for the decline and the end of production. Georges Biron died in 1921, and the Biron and Milly-Brionnet quarries subsequently declined a decade after the end of the Second World-War (SPIA 2019).
All three varieties of Échaillon stone were used at the Paris Garnier Opera House, inside and outside the building, in sculptures, stairs, balconies, drums and columns.
The Alexandre III Bridge on the River Seine in Paris also displays Échaillon stone in its abutment balustrades, handrails and base of the main pillars.
In the Pittsburgh Carnegie Museum of Natural History, USA, columns and pillars of the Grand Staircase Hall and walls of the Music Hall Foyer are in the yellow variety Échaillon stone.
As depicted in Figure 1, a number of monuments in various countries around the world have been found to include Échaillon stone.

Garnier Opera House, Paris, France

Echaillon quarries past and present, France

Francois Ferrer, Thierry Dumont