Tarn-et-Garonne - Encyclopedia

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TARN-ET-GARONNE, a department of south-western France, formed in 1808 of districts formerly belonging to Guienne and Gascony (Quercy, Lomagne, Armagnac, Rouergue, Agenais), with the addition of a small piece of Languedoc. From 1790 to 1808 its territory was divided between the departments of Lot, Haute-Garonne, Tarn, Aveyron, Gers and Lot-et-Garonne. It is bounded N. by Lot, E. by Aveyron, S. by Tarn and HauteGaronne, and W. by Gers and Lot-et-Garonne. Area, 1440 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 188,553. The department is watered by three rivers, the Garonne, the Tarn, which joins the Garonne below Moissac, and the Aveyron, which flows into the Tarn between Moissac and Montauban, dividing it into three distinct regions of hills. Those to the south-west of the Garonne are a continuation of the plateau of Lannemezan; ramifications of the Cevennes extend between the Garonne and the Tarn, and between the Tarn and the Aveyron; the region to the north of the continuous valley formed by the courses of the three rivers belongs to the Central Plateau. The causse or limestone plateau of Quercy occupies the north-east corner of the department and includes its highest point (1634 ft.). The lowest point (164 ft.) is at the exit of the Garonne. The climate is mild and agreeable; the mean annual temperature being about 56° F. Rain falls seldom,. but heavily, especially in spring, the annual rainfall being 28 or 30 ins.

The wide alluvial valleys of the three large rivers are most productive. Cereals, especially wheat, maize and oats, occupy more than two-thirds of the arable land of the department. The vine is everywhere cultivated and large quantities of grapes are exported as table fruit. Potatoes are also grown. Plums and apricots are abundant. The breeding of horses, especially for cavalry purposes, is actively carried on; and the rearing of horned cattle, both for draught and for fattening, is also important. Sheep, pigs, poultry and, in a minor degree, silk-worms, are also sources of profit. The manufacturing industry is represented by flour-mills, metalfoundries, tanneries, various kinds of silk-mills, and manufactories of linen, wool and paper. The principal exports are fruit, wine, flour, truffles from the Rouergue, poultry, phosphates and lithographic stone. Imports include raw materials for textile industries, timber, iron, wood-pulp, coal and agricultural produce. The canal of the Garonne traverses the department for 48 m. and the Garonne and the Tarn furnish 82 m. of navigable waterway. The department is served by the Orleans and the Southern railways. The department forms the diocese of Montauban, and belongs to the jurisdiction of the Toulouse court of appeal, to the academie (educational division) of Toulouse, and to the district of the XVII. corps d'armee (Toulouse). It has 3 arrondissements (Montauban, Moissac and Castelsarrasin), 24 cantons and 195 communes.

Montauban, Moissac and Castelsarrasin are the principal places. Other towns of interest are St Antonin, which has tanneries and manufactures of rough fabrics and is archaeologically important for its possession of a massive hotel de ville of the 12th century, the oldest in France; Bruniquel, which is splendidly situated overlooking the valleys of the Aveyron and the Vere, and is dominated by a medieval castle with a donjon of the 11th century; Beaumontde-Lomagne, a curious bastide of the 13th century with a fortified church of the 14th century; Montpezat-de-Quercy, which has a church of the same period, containing many precious antiquities; Varen, an ancient town of narrow streets and old houses with a remarkable Romanesque church and the ruins of a castle of the 14th and 15th centuries; and Ginals, where remains of the Cistercian abbey of Beaulieu, founded in 1141, are still to be seen.

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