Tarn, France - Encyclopedia

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TARN, a department of south-western France, formed in 1 79 0 of the three dioceses of Albi, Castres and Lavaur, belonging to the province of Languedoc. Pop. (1906) 330,533. Area, 2231 sq. m. Tarn is bounded N. and E. by Aveyron, S.E. by Herault, S. by Aude, S.W. and W. by Haute-Garonne, N.W. by Tarn-et-Garonne. The slope of the department is from east to west, and its general character is mountainous or hilly; its three principal ranges, the Mountains of Lacaune, the Sidobre, and the Montagne Noire, belonging to the Cevennes, lie on the south-east. The stony and wind-blown slopes of the firstnamed are used for pasturage. The highest point of the range and of the department is the Pic de Montalet (about 4150 ft.); several other summits are not much short of this. The granitestrewn plateaus of the Sidobre, from 1600 to 2000 ft. high, separate the valley of the Agotit from that of its left-hand affluent the Thore. The Montagne Noire, on the southern border of the department, derives its name from the forests on its northern slope, and some of its peaks are from 3000 to 3500 ft. high. The limestone and sandstone foot-hills are clothed with vines and fruit trees, and are broken by deep alluvial valleys of extraordinary fertility. With the exception of a small portion of the Montagne Noire, which drains into the Aude, the whole department belongs to the basin of the Garonne. The eastern portion of the department has the climate of Auvergne, the severest in France, but that of the plain is Girondin. At Albi the mean temperature is 55°. The rainfall, 29 or 30 ins. at that place, exceeds 40 ins. on the Lacaune and Montagne Noire.

The most noteworthy places in the department are Albi, the capital, Castres, Gaillac, Lavaur, Mazamet and Cordes, which are separately treated. Other places of interest are Burlats, which has ruins of an old church and chateau; Lisle d'Albi, a bastide with a church of the 14th century; and Penne, which has ruins of a fine medieval château.

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