1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lot (department)
LOT, a department of south-western France, formed in 1790 from the district of Quercy, part of the old province of Guyenne. It is bounded N. by Corrèze, W. by Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, S. by Tarn-et-Garonne, and E. by Aveyron and Cantal. Area 2017 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 216,611. The department extends over the western portion of the Massif Central of France; it slopes towards the south-west, and has a maximum altitude of 2560 ft. on the borders of Cantal with a minimum of 213 ft. at the point where the river Lot quits the department. The Lot, which traverses it from east to west, is navigable for the whole distance (106 m.) with the help of locks; its principal tributary within the department is the Célé (on the right). In the north of the department the Dordogne has a course of 37 m.; among its tributaries are the Cère, which has its rise in Cantal, and the Ouysse, a river of no great length, but remarkable for the abundance of its waters. The streams in the south of Lot all flow into the Tarn. The eastern and western portions of the department are covered by ranges of hills; the north, the centre, and part of the south are occupied by a belt of limestone plateaus or causses, that to the north of the Dordogne is called the Causse de Martel; between the Dordogne and the Lot is the Causse de Gramat or de Rocamadour; south of the Lot is the Causse de Cahors. The causses are for the most part bare and arid owing to the rapid disappearance of the rain in clefts and chasms in the limestone, which are known as igues. These are most numerous in the Causse de Gramat and are sometimes of great beauty; the best known is the Gouffre de Padirac, 7 m. N.E. of Rocamadour. The altitude of the causses (from 700 to 1300 ft., much lower than that of the similar plateaus in Lozère, Hérault and Aveyron) permits the cultivation of the vine; they also yield a small quantity of cereals and potatoes and some wood. The deep intervening valleys are full of verdure, being well watered by abundant springs. The climate is on the whole that of the Girondine region; the valleys are warm, and the rainfall is somewhat above the average for France. The difference of temperature between the higher parts of the department belonging to the central plateau and the sheltered valleys of the south-west is considerable. Wheat, maize, oats and rye are the chief cereals. Wine is the principal product, the most valued being that of Cahors grown in the valley of the Lot, which is, in general, the most productive portion of the department. It is used partly for blending with other wines and partly for local consumption. The north-east cantons produce large quantities of chestnuts; walnuts, apples and plums are common, and the department also grows potatoes and tobacco and supplies truffles. Sheep are the most abundant kind of live stock; but pigs, horned cattle, horses, asses, mules and goats are also reared, as well as poultry and bees. Iron and coal are mined, and there are important zinc deposits (Planioles). Limestone is quarried. There are oil-works and numerous mills, and wool spinning and carding as well as cloth making, tanning, currying, brewing and the making of agricultural implements are carried on to some extent. The three arrondissements are those of Cahors, the capital, Figeac and Gourdon; there are 29 cantons and 329 communes.
Lot belongs to the 17th military district, and to the académie of Toulouse, and falls within the circumscription of the court of appeal at Agen, and the province of the archbishop of Albi. It is served by the Orleans railway. Cahors, Figeac and Rocamadour are the principal places. Of the interesting churches and châteaux of the department, may be mentioned the fine feudal fortress at Castelnau occupying a commanding natural position, with an audience hall of the 12th century, and the Romanesque abbey-church at Souillac with fine sculpturing on the principal entrance. The plateau of Puy d’Issolu, near Vayrac, is believed by most authorities to be the site of the ancient Uxcellodunum, the scene of the last stand of the Gauls against Julius Caesar in 51 B.C.}} Lot has many dolmens, the finest being that of Pierre Martine, near Livernon (arr. of Figeac).