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Puy-De-Dome

PUY-DE-DOME, a department of central France, four-fifths of which belonged to Basse-Auvergne, one sixth to Bourbonnais, and the remainder to Forez (Lyonnais). Area, 3094 sq. m. Pop. (1906), 535,419. It is bounded N. by Allier, E. by Loire, S. by Haute-Loire and Cantal, and W. by Correze and Creuse. The highest point of the department, the Puy de Sancy (6188 ft.), is also the most elevated peak of central France; it commands the group of the volcanic Monts Dore, so remarkable for their rocky conies, their erosion valleys, their trap dykes and argues of basalt, their lakes sleeping in the depths of ancient craters or confined in the valleys by streams of lava, and their wide plains of pasture-land. The Puy de Sancy, forming part of the watershed, gives rise on its northern slope to the Dordogne, and on the east to the Couze, a sub-tributary of the Loire, through the Allier. The Monts Dore are joined to the mountains of Cantal by the non-volcanic group of the Cezallier, of which the highest peak, the Luguet (5102 ft.), rises on the confines of Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal. On the north the Monts Dore are continued by a plateau of a mean height of from 3000 to 3500 ft., upon which are seen sixty cones raised by volcanic outbursts in former times. These are the Monts Dôme, which extend from south to north as far as Riom, the most remarkable being the Puy-de-Dôme (4800 ft.), from which the department takes its name, and the Puy-de-Pariou, the latter having a crater more than 300 ft. in depth. A meteorological observatory occupies the summit of the Puy-de-Dôme, which was once crowned by a Roman temple, the ruins of which still exist. To the east of the depart- ment, along the confines of Loire, are the Monts du Forez, rising to 5380 ft. and continued north by the Bois Noirs. Between these mountains and the Dôme extends the fertile plain of Limagne. The drainage of Puy-de-Dôme is divided between the Loire, by its affluents the Allier and the Cher, and the Gironde, by the Dordogne. The Allier traverses the department from south to north, receiving on its right the Dore, which falls into the Allier at the northern boundary and lowest level of the department (879 ft.) ; on its left are the Alagnon from the Cantal, the two Couzes from the Luguet and the Monts Dore, and the Sioule, the most important of all, which drains the north-west slopes of the Monts Dore and Dôme, and joins the Allier beyond the limits of the department. The Cher forms for a short space the boundary between the departments of Puy-de-Dôme and Creuse, close to that of Allier. The Dordogne, while still scarcely formed, flows past Mont-Dore-les-Bains and La Bourboule and is lost in a deep valley which divides this department from that of Correze. None of these streams is navigable, but boats can be used on the Allier during floods. The climate of Puy- deDôme is usually very severe, owing to its high level and its distance from the sea; the mildest air is found in the northern valleys, where the elevation is least. During summer the hills about Clermont-Ferrand, exposed to the Sun, become all the hotter because their black volcanic soil absorbs its rays. On the average 25 or 26 in. of rain fall in the year; in the Limagne around which the mountains arrest the clouds rainfall is less. Nevertheless the soil of this plain, consisting of alluvial deposits of volcanic origin, and watered by torrents and streams from the mountains, makes it one of the richest regions of France. In the highest altitudes the rainfall attains 64 in.

About two-thirds of the inhabitants of Puy-de-Dôme are engaged in agriculture. The Limagne yields a variety of products and the vine flourishes on its hill-sides. The high mountains provide pasture for large flocks of cows and sheep, and cheese-making is an industry of much importance. The intermediate region is cultivated chiefly for cereals, the chief of which are rye, wheat, oats and barley. Potatoes are largely grown, and, to a less extent, peas, beans, beetroot and colza. The Limagne produces fruits of all kinds apricots, cherries, pears, walnuts and apples, from which considerable quantities of cider are made. The department possesses considerable mineral wealth. There are important coal-mines at Brassac on the Allier, on the borders of Haute-Loire, at St Eloy near the department of Allier, and at Bpurg-Lastic on the bordersof Correze. Peat, asphalt, bituminous schists, antimony, mispickel and argentiferous lead are also worked. Of the last named there are mines and fcundries at Pontgibaud on the Sioule. Amethysts and other rare minerals are found and there are numerous stone-quarries. The watering-places of Mont Dore, Royat and La Bourboule receive separate notice. The springs of St Nectaire, containing sodium and iron chlorides and bicarbonates, are efficacious in liver complaints, rheumatism and gravel. The waters of Chateauneuf (on the Sioule), also known to the Romans, contain iron bicarbonates and are resorted to for skin diseases. Those of Chatelguyon, like the waters of Carlsbad and Marienbad, are used for disorders of the digestive organs, congestions of the liver, rheumatism, etc. There are many other mineral springs of varied character. Manufactures are for the most part grouped around Thiers, which produces a large amount of cheap cutlery, paper and leather, and Clermont-Ferrand, the capital. The department contains factories for lace and braid (in the mountains), for buntings and camlets and wool, cotton and hemp mills. There are wool-carding works and factories for linens, cloths and counterpanes, also silk-mills, tanneries, manufactories for chamois and other leathers, for caoutchouc (Clermont-Ferrand), sugar-works, manufactures of edible pastes with a reputation as high as those of Italy, and manufactures of fruit-preserves. The department exports grain, fruits, cattle, wines, cheese, wood, mineral waters, cutlery, etc. It is served by the Orleans and Paris-Lyon railway companies. Many thousands of the inhabitants, belonging chiefly to the district of Ambert, leave it during winter and find work elsewhere as navvies, chimney-sweeps, pit-sawyers, etc. The department comprises 5 arrondissements Clermont-Ferrand, Ambert, Issoire, Riom, Thiers 50 cantons and 471 communes. It is included in the bishopric and academie (educational division) of Clermont-Ferrand and the region of the XIII. army corps, of which the headquarters are in the same town ; the appeal court is at Riom.

The more noteworthy places in the department are ClermontFerrand, Issoire, Thiers, Riom, Ambert, Mont-Dore-les-Bains, La Bourboule and Royat (all separately noticed). Near Clermont-Ferrand is Mont Gergovie (see GERGOVIA) the scene of the victory of Vercingetorix over Julius Caesar. Other places of interest are Billom, Chamalieres, Courpiere, Orcival, St Nectaire and St Saturnin, which possess churches in the Romanesque style of Auvergne. There are ruined feudal strongholds of great interest at Murols and Tournoel (near Volvic). Vic-le-Comte has a sainte-chapelle which is a beautiful example of the transition from Gothic to Renaissance architecture, and Aigueperse has a Gothic church of the 13th to the 15th century. Near Pontgibaud are the ruins (ijth century) of the Carthusian abbey of Port St Marie.

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

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