1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lot-et-Garonne

LOT-ET-GARONNE, a department of south-western France, formed in 1790 of Agenais and Bazadais, two districts of the old province of Guienne, and of Condomois, Lomagne, Brullois and pays d’Albret, formerly portions of Gascony. It is bounded W. by Gironde, N. by Dordogne, E. by Lot and Tarn-et-Garonne, S. by Gers and S.W. by Landes. Area 2079 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 274,610. The Garonne, which traverses the department from S.E. to N.W., divides it into two unequal parts. That to the north is a country of hills and deep ravines, and the slope is from east to west, while in the region to the south, which is a continuation of the plateau of Lannemezan and Armagnac, the slope is directly from south to north. A small portion in the south-west belongs to the sterile region of the Landes (q.v.); the broad valleys of the Garonne and of its affluent the Lot are proverbial for their fertility. The wildest part is towards the north-east on the borders of Dordogne, where a region of causses (limestone plateaus) and forests begins; the highest point (896 ft.) is also found here. The Garonne, where it quits the department, is only some 20 ft. above the sea-level; it is navigable throughout, with the help of its lateral canal, as also are the Lot and Baise with the help of locks. The Drot, a right affluent of the Garonne in the north of the department, is also navigable in the lower part of its course. The climate is that of the Girondine region—mild and fine—the mean temperature of Agen being 56.6° Fahr., or 5° above that of Paris; the annual rainfall, which, in the plain of Agen, varies from 20 to 24 in., is nearly the least in France. Agriculturally the department is one of the richest. Of cereals wheat is the chief, maize and oats coming next. Potatoes, vines and tobacco are important sources of wealth. The best wines are those of Clairac and Buzet. Vegetable and fruit-growing are prosperous. Plum-trees (pruniers d’ente) are much cultivated in the valleys of the Garonne and Lot, and the apricots of Nicole and Tonneins are well known. The chief trees are the pine and the oak; the cork-oak flourishes in the Landes, and poplars and willows are abundant on the borders of the Garonne. Horned cattle, chiefly of the Garonne breed, are the principal live stock. Poultry and pigs are also reared profitably. There are deposits of iron in the department. The forges, blast furnaces and foundries of Fumel are important; and agricultural implements and other machines are manufactured. The making of lime and cement, of tiles, bricks and pottery, of confectionery and dried plums (pruneaux d’Agen) and other delicacies, and brewing and distilling, occupy many of the inhabitants. At Tonneins (pop. 4691 in 1906) there is a national tobacco manufactory. Cork cutting, of which the centre is Mézin, hat and candle making, wool spinning, weaving of woollen and cotton stuffs, tanning, paper-making, oil-making, dyeing and flour and saw-milling are other prominent industries. The peasants still speak the Gascon patois. The arrondissements are 4—Agen, Marmande, Nérac and Villeneuve-sur-Lot—and there are 35 cantons and 326 communes.

Agen, the capital, is the seat of a bishopric and of the court of appeal for the department of Lot-et-Garonne. The department belongs to the region of the XVII. army corps, the académie of Bordeaux, and the province of the archbishop of Bordeaux. Lot-et-Garonne is served by the lines of the Southern and the Orleans railways, its rivers afford about 160 m. of navigable waterway, and the lateral canal of the Garonne traverses it for 54 m. Agen, Marmande, Nérac and Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the principal places, are treated under separate headings. The department possesses Roman remains at Mas d’Agenais and at Aiguillon. The churches of Layrac, Monsempron, Mas d’Agenais, Moirax, Mézin and Vianne are of interest, as also are the fortifications of Vianne of the 13th century, and the châteaux of Xaintrailles, Bonaguil, Gavaudun and of the industrial town of Casteljaloux.