HAUTES-PYRENEES, a department of south-western France, on the Spanish frontier, formed in 1790, half of it being taken from Bigorre and the remainder from Armagnac, Nebouzan, Astarac and Quatre Vallees, districts which all belonged to the province of Gascony. Pop. (1906), 209,397. Area, 1750 sq. m. Hautes-Pyrenees is bounded S. by Spain, W. by the department of Basses-Pyrenees (which encloses on its eastern border five communes belonging to Hautes-Pyrenees), N. by Gers and E. by Haute-Garonne. Except on the south its boundaries are conventional. The south of the department, comprising twothirds of its area, is occupied by the central Pyrenees. Some of the peaks reach or exceed the height of 10,000 ft., the Vignemale (10,820 ft.) being the highest in the French Pyrenees. The imposing cirques (Cirques de Troumouse, Gavarnie and Estaube), with their glaciers and waterfalls, and the pleasant valleys attract a large number of tourists, the most noted point being the Cirque de Gavarnie. The northern portion of the department is a region of plains and undulating hills clothed with cornfields, vineyards and meadows. To the north-east, however, the cold and wind-swept plateau of Lannemezan (about 2000 ft.), the watershed of the streams that come down on the French side of the Pyrenees, presents in its bleakness and barrenness a striking contrast to the plain that lies below. The department is drained by three principal streams, the Gave de Pau, the Adour and the Neste, an affluent of the Garonne. The sources of the first and third lie close together in the Cirque of Gavarnie and on the slopes of Troumouse, whence they flow respectively to the north-west and north-east. An important section of the Pyrenees, which carries the Massif Neouvielle and the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (with its meteorological observatory), runs northward between these two valleys. From the Pic du Midi descends the Adour, which, after watering the pleasant valley of Campan, leaves the mountains at Bagneres and then divides into a multitude of channels, to irrigate the rich plain of Tarbes. The chief of these is the Canal d'Alaric with a length of 36 m. Beyond Hautes-Pyrenees it receives on the right the Arros, which flows through the department from south to north- northwest; on the left it receives the Gave de Pau. This latter stream, rising in Gavarnie, is joined at Luz by the Gave de Bastan from Neouvielle, and at Pierrefitte by the Gave de Cauterets, fed by streams from the Vignemale. The Gavede Pau, after passing Argeles, a well-known centre for excursions, and Lourdes, leaves the mountains and turns sharply from north to west; it has a greater volume of water than the Adour, but, being more of a mountain torrent, is regarded as a tributary of the Adour, which is navigable in the latter part of its course. The Neste d'Aure, descending from the peaks of Neouvielle and Troumouse, receives at Arreau the Neste de Louron from the pass of Clarabide and flows northwards through a beautiful valley as far as La Barthe, where it turns east; it is important as furnishing the plateau of Lannemezan with a canal, the Canal de la Neste, the waters of which are partly used for irrigation and partly for supplying the streams that rise there and are dried up in summer the Gers and the Baise, affluents of the Garonne. This latter only touches the department. The climate of HautesPyrenees, though very cold on the highlands, is warm and moist in the plains, where there are hot summers, fine autumns, mild winters and rainy springs. On the plateau of Lannemezan, while the summers are dry and scorching, the winters are very severe. The average annual rainfall at Tarbes, in the north of the department, is about 34 in.; at the higher altitudes it is much greater. The mean annual temperature at Tarbes is 59 Fahr.
Hautes-Pyrenees is agricultural in the plains, pastoral in the highlands. The more important cereals are wheat and maize, which is much used for the feeding of pigs and poultry, especially geese; rye, oats and barley are grown in the mountain districts. The wines of Madiran and Peyriguere are well known and tobacco is also cultivated; chestnut trees and fruit trees are grown on the lower slopes. In the neighbourhood of Tarbes and Bagneres-de-Bigorre horse-breeding is the principal occupation and there is a famous stud at Tarbes. The horse of the region is the result of a fusion of Arab, English and Navarrese blood and is well fitted for saddle and harness; it is largely used by light cavalry regiments. Cattle raising is important; the milchcows of Lourdes and the oxen of Tarbes and the valley of the Aure are highly esteemed. Sheep and goats are also reared. The forests, which occur chiefly in the highlands, contain bears, boars, wolves and other wild animals. There are at Campan and Sarrancolin quarries of fine marble, which is sawn and worked at Bagneres. There is a group of slate quarries at Labassere. Deposits of lignite, lead, manganese and zinc are found. The mineral springs of Hautes-Pyrenees are numerous and much visited. The principal in the valley of the Gave de Pau are Cauterets (hot springs containing sulphur and sodium), St Sauveur (springs with sulphur and sodium), and Bareges (hot springs with sulphur and sodium), and in the valley of the Adour Bagneres (hot or cold springs containing calcium sulphates, iron, sulphur and sodium) and Capvern near Lannemezan (springs containing calcium sulphates).
The department has flour-mills and saw-mills, a large military arsenal at Tarbes, paper-mills, tanneries and manufactories of agricultural implements and looms. The spinning and weaving of wool and the manufacture of knitted goods are carried on; Bagneres-de-Bigorre is the chief centre of the textile industry.
Of the passes (ports) into Spain, even the chief, Gavarnie (7398 ft.), is not accessible to carriages. The department is served by the Southern railway and is traversed from west to east by the main line from Bayonne to Toulouse. There are three arrondissements, those of Tarbes, Argeles and Bagneresde-Bigorre, 26 cantons and 480 communes. Tarbes is the capital of Hautes-Pyrenees, which constitutes the diocese of Tarbes, and is attached to the appeal court of Pau; it forms part of the region of the XVHI. army corps. In educational matters it falls within the circumscription of the academic of Toulouse. Tarbes, Lourdes, Bagneres-de-Bigorre and Luz-St Sauveur are the principal towns. St Savin, in the valley of the Gave de Pau, and Sarrancolin have interesting Romanesque churches. The church of Maubourguet built by the Temolars in the 12th century is also remarkable.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)