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AIRE, the name of two towns in France:

(1) - A town of south-western France, in the department of Landes, on the left bank of the Adour, 22 m. S.E. of Mont-de-Marsan on the Southern railway between Morcenx and Tarbes. Pop. (1906) 2283. It is the seat of a bishopric, and has a cathedral of the 12th century and an episcopal palace of the 11th, 17th and 18th centuries. Both have undergone frequent restoration. They are surpassed in interest by the church of St Quitterie in Mas d'Aire, the suburb south-west of the town. The latter is a brick building of the 13th and 14th centuries, with a choir in the Romanesque style, and a fine western portal which has been much disfigured. The crypt contains several Gallo-Roman tombs and the sarcophagus (5th century) of St Quitterie. Aire has two ecclesiastical seminaries.

Aire (Atura, Vicus Julii) was the residence of the kings of the Visigoths, One of whom, Alaric II. (q.v.), there drew up his famous code. The bishopric dates from the 5th century.

(2) - A town of northern France, on the river Lys, in the department of Pas-de-Calais, 12 m. S.S.E. of St Omer by rail. Pop. (1906) 4258. The town lies in a low and marshy situation at the junction of three canals. The chief buildings are the church of St Pierre (15th and 16th centuries), which has an imposing tower and rich interior decoration; a hotel de ville of the 18th century; and the Bailliage (16th century), a small building in the Renaissance style. Aire has flour-mills, leather and oil works, and nail manufactories, and trade in agricultural produce.

In the middle ages Aire belonged to the counts of Flanders, from whom in 1188 it received a charter, which is still extant. It was given to France by the peace of Utrecht 1713.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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