Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/37

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CHAPTER II


LE VELAY


Haute Loire—Geological structure of the plateau—Trap dykes—Volcanoes—Crater of Bar—The Lac de Bouchet— Legends—Offerings made to lakes—Mézenc—Direction of the rivers—Peculiarities in their course—How the basalt was broken through—The River Loire—The Borne—The Ceysac—Process of valley formation—The climate—Lacemaking—La Béate—The peasantry Costume—History of Le Velay—The Polignacs—The Mint—The Revolution.

The department of Haute Loire is made up mainly, but not wholly, of the ancient province of Le Velay. It is situated at the limit of the Langue d'Oc, on the confines of the region of the Langue d'Oïl. Le Velay forms a rude triangle of which the bounds are the mountains of the Vivarais on the east, those of the Velay on the west, and the broad basis of the triangle is to the north towards Auvergne and Forez, fringed there by lower heights. It consists of an uplifted plateau with an average elevation above the sea of 2,700 feet, and is the least rainy portion of France. The summers there are never oppressively hot; but, on the other hand, in winter it is a Southern Siberia. Originally composed of granite, it has been pierced by volcanic cones, and covered with igneous dejections. As many as a hundred craters have been counted in it, and through the rents in the granite and schist opened during the throes of eruption, dykes of trap have been

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