1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Causses

CAUSSES (from Lat. calx through local Fr. caous, meaning “lime”), the name given to the table-lands lying to the south of the central plateau of France and sloping westward from the Cévennes. They form parts of the departments of Lozère, Aveyron, Card, Hérault, Lot and Tarn-et-Garonne. They are of limestone formation, dry, sterile and treeless. These characteristics are most marked in the east of the region, where the Causse de Sauveterre, the Causse Méjan, the Causse Noir and the Larzac flank the Cévennes. Here the Causse Méjan, the most deserted and arid of all, reaches an altitude of nearly 4200 ft. Towards the west the lesser causses of Rouergue and Quercy attain respectively 2950 ft. and 1470 ft. Once an uninterrupted table-land, the causses are now isolated from one another by deep rifts through which run the Tarn, the Dourbie, the Jonte and other rivers. The summits are destitute of running water, since the rain as it falls either sinks through the permeable surface soil or runs into the fissures and chasms, some of great depth, which are peculiar to the region. The inhabitants (Caussenards) of the higher causses cultivate hollows in the ground which are protected from the violent winds, and the scanty herbage permits of the raising of sheep, from the milk of which Roquefort cheeses are made. In the west, where the rigours of the weather are less severe, agriculture is more easily carried on.