Decazeville is located four kilometres from the Lot River, one of the most beautiful French rivers in France. Established in the nineteenth century as a coal mining and steel town, Decazeville is an important commercial and industrial centre. The only mining area in Aveyron, it has a rich industrial heritage. To be seen are a few museums on mining, the coal open mines closed in 2001.
Only 170 years old, it's been built around one industry, coal. Originally, swamps in the area of Lassalle and three villages: Saint-Roch, Vialarels, and Saint-Michel.
Duke Decazes, ambassador of Louis XVIII in England, with local Francis Cabrol, implemented the "Steel Decazeville", following an English industrial method; manufacture of cast iron with coal and iron ore. This was the beginning of the industrial revolution and Decazeville basin with open coal mining, and underground tunnels.
The first cast iron takes place by Christmas 1828 on the site of Firmi. The plant is then moved to a place called Lassalle. The town had great days, like 1842 as being the largest steel plant in France. It expanded until 1855, then the free trade treaty signed with United Kingdom put a term to this expansion. A new turn came back with W.W. I and its more modern equipment, as well as a strong economic recovery. Further on activity gradually declined, and underground mines got abandoned by 1966. Therefore lots of effort was put on the open pit mine called "Discovery". It became the largest operation of its kind in France (3.7 km long, 2.5 km wide, 250 m depth). Its activity stopped in 2001, but the city has strong roots back to its mining past.