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LOT

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 17 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LOT, a department of south-western France, formed in 1790 from the district of Quercy, part of the old province of Guyenne. It is bounded N. by Correze, W. by Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, S. by Tarn-et-Garonne, and E. by Aveyron and Cantal. Area 2017 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 216,611. The department extends over the western portion of the Massif Central of France; it slopes towards the south-west, and has a maximum altitude of 2560 ft. on the borders of Cantal with a minimum of 213 ft. at the point where the river Lot quits the department. The Lot, which traverses it from east to west, is navigable for the whole distance (ro6 m.) with the help of locks; its principal tributary within the department is the Cele (on the right). In the north of the department the Dordogne has a course of 37 m.; among its tributaries are the Cere, which has its rise in Cantal, and the Ouysse, a river of no great length, but remarkable for the abundance of its waters. The streams in the south of Lot all flow into the Tarn. The eastern and western portions. of the department are covered by ranges of hills; the north, the centre, and part of the south are occupied by a belt of limestone plateaus or causses, that to the north of the Dordogne is called the Causse de Martel; between the Dordogne and the Lot is the Causse de Gramat or de Rocamadour; south of the Lot is the Causse de Cahors. The causses are for the most part bare and arid owing to the rapid disappearance of the rain in clefts and chasms in the limestone, which are known as igues. These are most numerous in the Causse de Gramat and are sometimes of great beauty; the best known is the Gouffre de Padirac, 7 M. N.E. of Rocamadour. The altitude of the causses (from 700 to 1300 ft., much lower than that of the similar plateaus in Lozere, Herault and Aveyron) permits the cultivation of the vine; they also yield a small quantity of cereals and potatoes and some wood. The deep intervening valleys are full of verdure, being well watered by abundant springs. The climate is on the whole that of the Girondine region; the valleys are warm, and the rainfall is somewhat above the average for France. The difference of temperature between the higher parts of the department belonging to the central plateau and the sheltered valleys of the south-west is considerable. Wheat, maize, oats and rye are the chief cereals. Wine is the principal product, the most valued being that of Cahors grown in the valley of the Lot, which is, in general, the most productive portion of the department. It is used partly for blending with other wines and partly for local consumption. The north-east cantons produce large quantities of chestnuts; walnuts, apples and plums are common, and the department also grows potatoes and tobacco and supplies truffles. Sheep are the most abundant kind of live stock; but pigs, horned cattle, horses, asses, mules and goats are also reared, as well as poultry and bees. Iron and coal are mined, and there are important zinc deposits (Planioles). Lime-stone is quarried. - There are oil-works and numerous mills, and wool spinning and carding as well as cloth making, tanning, currying, brewing and the making of agricultural implements are carried on to some extent. The three arrondissements are those of Cahors, the capital, Figeac and Gourdon; there are 29 cantons and 329 communes. ' Lot belongs to the 17th military district, and to the academie of Toulouse, and falls within the circumscription of the court of appeal at Agen, and the province of the archbishop of Albi. It is served by the Orleans railway. Cahors, Figeac and Rocamadour are the principal places. Of the interesting churches and chateaux of the '(department, may be mentioned the fine feudal fortress at Castelnau occupying a commanding natural position, with an audience hall of the 12th century, and the Romanesque abbey-church at Souillac with fine sculpturing on the principal entrance. The plateau of Puy d'Issolu, near Vayrac, is believed by most authorities to be the site of the ancient Uxcellodunum, the scene of the last stand of the Gauls against Julius Caesar in 51 B.C. Lot has many dolmens, the finest being that of Pierre Martine, near Livernon (arr. of Figeac). LOT-ET-GARONNE, a department of south-western France, formed in 1790 of Agenais and Bazadais, two districts of the old province of Guienne, and of Condomois, Lomagne, Brullois and pays d'Albret, formerly portions of Gascony. It is bounded W. by Gironde, N. by Dordogne, E. by Lot and Tarn-et-Garonne, S. by Gers and S.W. by Landes. Area 2079 sq. m. Pop. (19(96) 274,610. The Garonne, which traverses the department from S.E. to N.W., divides it into two unequal parts.. That to the north is a country of hills and deep ravines, and the slope is from east to west, while in the region to the south, which is a continuation of the plateau of Lannemezan and Armagnac, the slope is directly from south to north. A small portion in the south-west belongs to the sterile region of the Landes (q.v.); the broad valleys of the Garonne and of its affluent the Lot are proverbial for their fertility. The wildest part is towards the north-east on the borders of Dordogne, where a region of causses (limestone plateaus) and forests begins; the highest point (896 ft.) is also found here. The Garonne, where it quits the department, is only some 20 ft. above the sea-level; it is navigable throughout, with the help of its lateral canal, as also are the Lot and Baise with the help of locks. The Drot, a right affluent of the Garonne in the north of the department, is also navigable in the lower part of its course. The climate is that of the Girondine region—mild and fine—the mean temperature of Agen being 56.6° Fahr., or above that of Paris; the annual rainfall, which, in the plain of Agen, varies from 20 to 24 in., is nearly the least in France. Agriculturally the department is one of the richest. Of cereals wheat is the chief, maize and oats coming next. Potatoes, vines and tobacco are important sources of wealth. The best wines are those of Clairac and Buzet. Vegetable and fruit-growing are prosperous. Plum-trees (pruners d'ente) are much cultivated in the valleys of the Garonne and Lot, and the apricots of Nicole and Tonneins are well known. The chief trees are the pine and the oak; the cork-oak flourishes in the Landes, and poplars and willows are abundant on the borders of the Garonne. Horned cattle, chiefly of the Garonne. breed, are the principal live stock. Poultry and pigs are also reared profitably. There are deposits of iron in the department. The forges, blast furnaces and foundries of Fumel are important; and agricultural implements and other machines are manufactured. The making of lime and cement, of tiles, bricks and pottery, of confectionery and dried plums (pruneaux d'Agen) and other delicacies, and brewing and distilling, occupy many of the inhabitants. At Tonneins (pop. 4691 in 1906) there is a national tobacco manufactory. Cork cutting, of which the centre is Mezin, hat and candle making, wool spinning, weaving of woollen and cotton stuffs, tanning, paper-making, oil-making, dyeing and flour and saw-milling are other prominent industries. The peasants still speak the Gascon patois. The arrondissements are 4—Agen, 1Vlarmande, Nerac and Villeneuve-sur-Lot—and there are 35 cantons and 326 communes. Agen, the capital, is the seat of a bishopric and of the court of appeal for the department of Lot-et-Garonne. The department belongs to the region of the XVII. army corps, the academie of Bordeaux, and the province of the archbishop of Bordeaux. Lot-et-Garonne is served by the lines of the Southern and the Orleans railways, its rivers afford about 16o m. of navigable waterway, and the lateral canal of the Garonne traverses it for 54 M. Agen, Marmande, Nerac and Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the principal places, are treated under separate headings. The department possesses Roman remains at Mas d'Agenais and at Aiguillon. The churches of Layrac, Monsempron, Mas d'Agenais, Moirax, Mezin and Vianne are of interest, as also are the fortifications of Vianne of the 13th century, and the chateaux of Xaintrailles, Bonaguil, Gavaudun and of the industrial town of Casteljaloux.
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