LOIR-ET-CHER, a department of central France, formed in 1790 from a small portion of Touraine, the Perche, but chiefly from the Dunois, Vendomois 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 193 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 53 F.
The department is primarily agricultural, yielding abundance of wheat and oats. Besides these the chief products are rye, 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 B16sois and the Vend6mois. In the valleys fruit-trees and nursery gardens are numerous; the asparagus of Romorantin and Vend&me 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. Stonequarries are numerous. The chief industries are the cloth- manufacture of Romorantin, and leather-dressing and glove-making at Vend6me; 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 (academic) of Paris. Its court of appeal and the headquarters of the V. army corps, to the regions of which it belongs, are at Orleans. B!ois, the capital, Vend6me, 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 11th century, that of Chaumont dating from the isth 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 manorhouse, in which Ronsard was born in 1524.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)