Indre-et-Loire - Encyclopedia




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INDRE-ET-LOIRE, a department of central France, consisting of nearly the whole of the old province of Touraine and of small portions of Orleanais, Anjou and Poitou. Pop. (1906) 337,916. Area 2377 sq. m. It is bounded N. by the departments of Sarthe and Loir-et-Cher, E. by Loir-et-Cher and Indre, S. and S.W. by Vienne and W. by Maine-et-Loire. It takes its name from the Loire and its tributary the Indre, which enter it on its eastern border and unite not far from its western border. The other chief affluents of the Loire in the department are the Cher, which joins it below Tours, and the Vienne, which waters the department's southern region. Indre-et-Loire is generally level and comprises the following districts: the Gatine, a pebbly and sterile region to the north of the Loire, largely consisting of forests and heaths with numerous small lakes; the fertile Varenne or valley of the Loire; the Champeigne, a chain of vine-clad slopes, separating the valleys of the Cher and Indre; the Veron, a region of vines and orchards, in the angle formed by the Loire and Vienne; the plateau of Sainte-Maure, a hilly and unproductive district in the centre of which are found extensive deposits of shell-marl; and in the south the Brenne, traversed by the Claise and the Creuse and forming part of the marshy territory which extends under the same name into Indre.

Indre-et-Loire is divided into the arrondissements of Tours, Loches and Chinon, with 24 cantons and 282 communes. The chief town is Tours, which is the seat of an archbishopric; and Chinon, Loches, Amboise, Chenonceaux, Langeais and Azayle-Rideau are also important places with chateaus. The Renaissance chateau of Usse, and those of Luynes (15th and 16th centuries) and Pressigny-le-Grand (17th century) are also of note. Montbazon possesses the imposing ruins of a square donjon of the nth and 12th centuries. Preuilly has the most beautiful. Romanesque church in Touraine. The Sainte Chapelle (16th century) at Champigny is a survival of a chateau of the dukes of Bourbon-Montpensier. The church of Montresor (1532) with its mausoleum of the family of Montresor; that of St Denis-Hors (12th and 16th century) close to Amboise, with the curious mausoleum of Philibert Babou, minister of finance under Francis I. and Henry II.; and that of Ste Catherine de Fierbois, of the 15th century, are of architectural interest. The town of Richelieu, founded in 1631 by the famous minister of Louis XIII., pres2rves the enceinte and many of the buildings of the 17th century. Megalithic monuments are numerous in the department.

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