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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 926 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LOIREP, a department of central France, made up of the three districts of the ancient province of Orleanais—Orleanais proper, Gatinais and Dunois—together with portions of those of Ile-de-France and Berry. It is bounded N. by Seine-et-Oise, N.E. by Seine-et-Marne, E. by Yonne, S. by Nievre and Cher, S.W. and W. by Loir-et-Cher and N.W. by Eure-et-Loir. Area, 2629 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 364,999. The name is borrowed from the Loiret, a stream which issues from the ground some miles to the south of Orleans, and after a course of about 7 M. falls into the Loire; its large volume gives rise to the belief that it is a subterranean branch of that river. The Loire traverses the south of the department by a broad valley which, though frequently devastated by disastrous floods, is famed for its rich tilled lands, its castles, its towns and its vine-clad slopes. To the north of the Loire are the Gatinais (capital Montargis) and the Beauce; the former district is so named from its geitines or wildernesses, of which saffron is, along with honey, the most noteworthy product; the Beauce (q.v.), a monotonous tract of corn-fields without either tree or river, has been called the granary of France. Between the Beauce and the Loire is the extensiveforest of Orleans, which is slowly disappearing before the advances of agriculture. South of the Loire is the Sologne, long barren and unhealthy from the impermeability of its subsoil, but now much improved in both respects by means of pine plantation and draining and manuring operations. The highest point (on the borders of Cher) is 900 ft. above sea-level, and the lowest (on the borders of Seine-et-Marne) is 220 ft. The watershed on the plateau of Orleans between the basins of the Seine and Loire, which divide Loiret almost equally between them, is almost imperceptible. The lateral canal of the Loire from Roanne stops at Briare; from the latter town a canal (canal de Briare) connects with the Seine by the Loing valley, which is joined by the Orleans canal below Montargis. The only important tributary of the Loire within the department is the Loiret; the Loing, a tributary of the Seine, has a course of 4o m. from south to north, and is accompanied first by the Briare canal and afterwards by that of the Loing. The Essonne, another important affluent of the Seine, leaving Loiret below Malesherbes, takes its rise on the plateau of Orleans, as also does its tributary the Juine. The department has the climate of the Sequanian region, the mean temperature being a little above that of Paris; the rainfall varies from 18.5 to 27.5 in., according to the district, that of the exposed Beauce being lower than that of the well-wooded Sologne. Hailstorms cause much destruction in the Loire valley and the neighbouring regions. The department is essentially agricultural in character. A large number of sheep, cattle, horses and pigs are reared; poultry, especially geese, and bees are plentiful. The yield of wheat and oats is in excess of the consumption; rye, barley, meslin, potatoes, beetroot, colza and forage plants are also cultivated. Wine in abundance, but of inferior quality, is grown on the hills of the Loire valley. Buckwheat supports bees by its flowers, and poultry by its seeds. Saffron is another source of profit. The woods consist of oak, elm, birch and pine; fruit trees thrive in the department, and Orleans is a great centre of nursery gardens. The industries are brick and tile making, and the manufacture of faience, for which Gien is one of the most important centres in France. The Briare manufacture of porcelain buttons and pearls employs many work-men. Flour-mills are very numerous. There are iron and copper foundries, which, with agricultural implement making, bell-founding and the manufacture of pins, nails and files, represent the chief metal-working industries. The production of hosiery, wool-spinning and various forms of wool manufacture are also engaged in. A large quantity of the wine grown is made into vinegar (vinaigre d'Orleans). The tanneries produce excellent leather; and paper-making, sugar-refining, wax-bleaching and the manufacture of caoutchouc complete the list of industries. The four arrondissements are those of Orleans, Gien, Montargis and Pithiviers, with 31 cantons and 349 communes. The department forms part of the academic (educational division) of Paris. Besides Orleans, the capital, the more noteworthy places, Gien, Montargis, Beaugency, Pithiviers, Briare and St Benoitsur-Loire, are separately noticed. Outside these towns notable examples of architecture are found in the churches of Clery (15th century), of Ferrieres (13th and 14th centuries) of Puiseaux (12th and 13th centuries) and Meung (12th century). At Germigny-des-Pros there is a church built originally at the beginning of the 9th century and rebuilt in the 19th century, on the old plan and to some extent with the old materials. Yevre-le-Chatel has an interesting chateau of the 13th century, and Sully-sur-Loire the fine medieval chateau rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century by Maximilien de Bethune, duke of Sully, the famous minister of Henry IV. There are remains of a Gallo-Roman town (perhaps the ancient Vellaunodunum) at Trigueres and of a Roman amphitheatre near Montbouy. LOIR-ET-CHER, a department of central France, formed in 1790 from a small portion of Touraine, the Perche, but chiefly from the Dunois, Vend8mois and Blesois, portions of Orleanais. It is bounded N. by Eure-et-Loir, N.E. by Loiret, S.E. by Cher, S. by Indre, S.W. by Indre-et-Loire and N.W. by Sarthe. Pop. (1906) 276,019. Area, 2479 sq. m. The department takes its name from the Loir and the Cher by which it is traversed in the north and south respectively. The Loir rises on the eastern border of the Perche and joins the Maine after a course of 295 m.; the Cher rises on the Central Plateau near Aubusson, and reaches the Loire after a course of 219 m. The Loire flows through the department from north-east to south-west, and divides it into two nearly equal portions. To the south-east is the district of the Sologne, to the north-west the rich wheat-growing country of the Beauce (q.v.) which stretches to the Loir. Beyond that river lies the Perche. The surface of this region, which contains the highest altitude in the department (840 ft.), is varied by hills, valleys, hedged fields and orchards. The Sologne was formerly a region of forests, of which those in the neighbourhood of Chambord are the last remains. Its soil, once barren and marshy, has been considerably improved by draining and afforestation, though pools are still very numerous. The district is much frequented by sportsmen. The Cher and Loir traverse pleasant valleys, occasionally bounded by walls of tufa in which dwellings have been excavated, as at Les Roches in the Loir valley; the stone, hardened by exposure to the air, is also used for building purposes. The Loire and, with•the help of the Berry canal, the Cher are navigable. The chief remaining rivers of the department are the Beuvron, which flows into the Loire on the left, and the Sauldre, a right-hand affluent of the Cher. The climate is temperate and mild, though that of the Beauce tends to dryness and that of the Sologne to dampness. The mean annual temperature is between 52° and S30 F. The department is primarily agricultural, yielding abundance of wheat and oats. Besides these the chief products are {ye, wheat and potatoes. Vines thrive on the valley slopes, the vineyards falling into four groups—those of the Cher, which yield fine red wines, the Sologne, the Blesois and the Vendomois. In the valleys fruit-trees and nursery gardens are numerous; the asparagus of Romorantin and VendSmc is well-known. The Sologne supplies pine and birch for fuel, and there are extensive forests around Blois and on both sides of the Loir. Pasture is of good quality in the valleys. Sheep are the chief stock; the Perche breed of horses is much sought after for its combination of lightness and strength. Bee-farming is of some importance in the Sologne. Formerly the speciality of Loir-et-Cher was the production of gun-flints. Stone-quarries are numerous. The chief industries are the cloth-manufacture of Romorantin, and leather-dressing and glove-making at Vendome; and lime-burning, flour-milling, distilling, saw-milling, paper-making and the manufacture of " sabots " and boots and shoes, hosiery and linen goods, are carried on. The department is served chiefly by the Orleans railway. The arrondissements are those of Blois, Romorantin and Vendome, with 24 cantons and 297 communes. Loir-et-Cher forms part of the educational division (academie) of Paris. Its court of appeal and the headquarters of the V. army corps, to the regions of which it belongs, are at Orleans. Blois, the capital, Vendome, Romorantin and Chambord are noticed separately. In addition to those of Blois and Chambord there are numerous fine chateaux in the department, of which that of Montrichard with its donjon of the lrth century, that of Chaumont dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, and that of Cheverny (17th century) in the late Renaissance style are the most important. Those at St Aignan, Lassay, Lavardin and Cellettes may also be mentioned. Churches wholly or in part of Romanesque architecture are found at Faverolles, Selles-sur-Cher, St Aignan and Suevres. The village of Troo is built close to ancient tumuli and has an interesting church of the 12th century, and among other remains those of a lazar-house of the Romanesque period. At Pontlevoy are the church, consisting of a fine choir in the Gothic style, and the buildings of a Benedictine abbey. At La Poissonniere (near Montoire) is a small Renaissance manor-house, in which Ronsard was born in 1524.
End of Article: LOIREP

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