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Haute-Loire

HAUTE-LOIRE, a department of central France, formed in 1790 of Velay and portions of Vivarais and Gevaudan, three districts formerly belonging to the old province of Languedoc, of a portion of Forez formerly belonging to Lyonnais, and a portion of lower Auvergne. Pop. (1906), 314,770. Area, 1931 sq. m. It is bounded N. by Puy-de-D6me and Loire, E. by Loire and Ardeche, S. by Ardeche and Lozere and W. by Lozere and Cantal. Haute-Loire, which is situated on the central plateau of France, is traversed from north to south by four mountain ranges. Its highest point, the Mont Mezenc (5755 ft.), in the south-east of the department, belongs to the mountains of Vivarais, which are continued along the eastern border by the Boutieres chain. The Lignon divides the Boutieres from the Massif du Megal, which is separated by the Loire itself from the mountains of Velay, a granitic range overlaid with the eruptions of more than one hundred and fifty craters. The Margeride mountains run along the western border of the department. The Loire enters the department at a point 16 m. distant from its source in Ardeche, and first flowing northwards and then north-east, waters its eastern half. The Allier, which joins the Loire at Nevers, traverses the western portion of Haute-Loire in a northerly direction. The chief affluents of the Loire within the limits of the department are the Borne on the left, joining it near Le Puy, and the Lignon, which descends from the Mezenc, between the Boutieres and Megal ranges, on the right. The climate, owing to the altitude, the northward direction of the valleys, and the winds from the Cevennes, is cold, the winters being long and rigorous. Storms and violent rains are frequent on the higher grounds, and would give rise to serious inundations were not the rivers for the most part confined within deep rocky channels. Cereals, chiefly rye, oats, barley and wheat, are cultivated in the lowlands and on the plateaus, on which aromatic and medicinal plants are abundant. Lentils, peas, mangelwurzels and other forage and potatoes are also grown. Horned cattle belong principally to the Mezenc breed; goats are numerous. The woods yield pine, fir, oak and beech. Lacemaking, which employs about 90,000 women, and coal-mining are main industries; the coal basins are those of Brassac and Langeac. There are also mines of antimony and stone-quarries. Silk-milling, caoutchouc-making, various kinds of smith's work, paper-making, glass-blowing, brewing, wood-sawing and flourmilling are also carried on. The principal imports are flour, brandy ,wine, live-stock, lace-thread and agricultural implements. Exports include fat stock, wool, aromatic plants, coal, lace. The department is served chiefly by the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee company. There are three arrondissements Le Puy, Brioude and Yssingeaux, with 28 cantons and 265 communes.

Haute-Loire forms the diocese of Le Puy and part of the ecclesiastical province of Bourges, and belongs to the academic (educational division) of Clermont-Ferrand. Its court of appeal is at Riom. Le Puy the capital, Brioude and La Chaise-Dieu the principal towns of the department, receive separate treatment. It has some notable churches, of which those of Chamalieres, St Paulien and Sainte-Marie-des-Chazes are Romanesque in style; Le Monastier preserves the church, in part Romanesque, and the buildings of the abbey to which it owes its origin. Arlempdes and Bouzols (near Coubon) have the ruins of large feudal chateaus. The rocky plateau overlooking Polignac is occupied by the ruins of the imposing stronghold of the ancient family of Polignac, including a square donjon of the 14th century. Interesting Gallo-Roman remains have been found on the site.

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

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