Figeac - Encyclopedia

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FIGEAC, a town of south-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Lot, 4 7 m. E. N. E. of Cahors on the Orleans railway. Pop. (1906) 4330. It is enclosed by an amphitheatre of wooded and vine-clad hills, on the right bank of the Cele, which is here crossed by an old bridge. It is ill-built and the streets are narrow and dirty; on the outskirts shady boulevards have taken the place of the ramparts by which it was surrounded. The town is very rich in old houses of the 13th and 14th centuries; among them may be mentioned the Hotel de Balene, of the 14th century, used as a prison. Another house, dating from the 1 5th century, was the birthplace of the Egyptologist J. F. Champollion, in memory of whom the town has erected an obelisk. The principal church is that of St Sauveur, which once belonged to the abbey of Figeac. It was built at the beginning of the 12th century, but restored later; the façade in particular is modern. Notre-Dame du Puy, in the highest part of the town, belongs to the 12th and 13th centuries. It has no transept and its aisles extend completely round the interior. The altar-screen is a fine example of carved woodwork of the end of the r 7th century. Of the four obelisks which used to mark the limits of the authority of the abbots of Figeac, those to the south and the west of the town remain. Figeac is the seat of a subprefect and has a tribunal of first instance, and a communal college. Brewing, tanning, printing, cloth-weaving and the manufacture of agricultural implements are among the industries. Trade is in cattle, leather, wool, plums, walnuts and grain, and there are zinc mines in the neighbourhood.

Figeac grew up round an abbey founded by Pippin the Short in the 8th century, and throughout the middle ages it was the property of the monks. At the end of the 6th century the lordship was acquired by King Henry IV.'s minister, the duke of Sully, who sold it to Louis XIII. in 1622.

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