Molsheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. The total population in 2006 was 9,382. Molsheim had been a very fast-growing city between the French censuses of 1968 and 1999, passing from 5,739 to 9,331 inhabitants, but this increase came to a noticeable halt since. The metropolitan area of Molsheim had 11,760 inhabitants in 2006, from 7,747 in 1968.
Molsheim (9335 inhabitants in 1999) lies about 30 kilometes southwest of Strasbourg, 10 kilometers north of Obernai and slightly less than 30 kilometers south of Saverne, in the Alsatian Plain. The highest point, the Molsheimer Berg, offers an excellent vantage point over the Alsatian Plain. Molsheim is at the intersection of the Strasbourg-Molsheim-St-Dié and Strasbourg-Molsheim-Sélestat rail lines, and used to be connected to Saverne, however the latter track was closed in 1969, dismantled in 1993, and has now been converted to a bicycle trail. Another bicycle trail follows the Bruche canal and allows cyclists to reach Saverne (20 km from Molsheim to the Strasbourg city limit).
Digs in 1935, north of Molsheim, have revealed the existence of numerous tombs from the Merovingian period (6th-7th centuries), along the old Roman road from Avolsheim. The first mention of Mollesheim only took place in 820, in the deed of the gift of a vineyard by the bishop of Adaloch to the Saint-Thomas Chapter, a Strasbourg monastery. The surrounding wall dates from the 13th century and was expanded in the 14th century.
Molsheim's "Great Century" was the period following the Reformation. During the French Wars of Religion, multiple religious orders came to find refuge behind the Molsheim walls: the Jesuits and Benedictines in 1580, the Chartreuse monks in 1598, the Canons of the Strasbourg Cathedral in 1605, and the Capuchin friars in 1657. Thus in the 16th Century the town became the center of the Counter-Reformation movement in Lower Alsace. The clerics of Molsheim set out to fight the "new doctrine" through preaching, education and the training of new priests.
Following the French Revolution, the town entered the industrial age with the birth of small manufacturing workshops. Its economic activity has been diversifying throughout the 20th Century, particularly with the arrival of the factories of the Italian automobile manufacturer Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947).