1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aude (department)

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AUDE, a maritime department of southern France, formed in 1790 from part of the old province of Languedoc. Area, 2448 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 308,327. It is bounded E. by the Mediterranean, N. by the departments of Hérault and Tarn, N.W. by Haute-Garonne, W. by Ariège, and S. by Pyrénées-Orientales. The department is traversed on its western boundary from S. to N. by a mountain range of medium height, which unites the Pyrenees with the southern Cévennes; and its northern frontier is occupied by the Montagne Noire, the most westerly portion of the Cévennes. The Corbières, a branch of the Pyrenees, run in a south-west and north-east direction along the southern district. The Aude (q.v.), its principal river, has almost its entire length in the department, and its lower course, together with its tributary the Fresquel, forms the dividing line between the Montagne Noire and the Pyrenean system.

The lowness of the coast causes a series of large lagoons, the chief of which are those of Bages et Sigean, Gruissan, Lapalme and Leucate. The climate is warm and dry, but often sudden in its alterations. The wind from the north-west, known as the cers, blows with great violence, and the sea-breeze is often laden with pestilential effluvia from the lagoons. The agriculture of the department is in a flourishing condition. The meadows are extensive and well watered, and are pastured by numerous flocks and herds. The grain produce, consisting mainly of wheat, oats, rye and Indian corn, exceeds the consumption, and the vineyards yield an abundant supply of both white and red wines, those of Limoux and the Narbonnais being most highly esteemed. Truffles are abundant. The olive and chestnut are the chief fruits. Mines of iron, manganese, and especially of mispickel, are worked, and there are stone-quarries and productive salt-marshes. Brewing, distilling, cooperage, iron-founding, hat-making and machine construction are carried on, and there are flour-mills, brick-works, saw-mills, sulphur refineries and leather and paper works. The formerly flourishing textile industries are now of small importance. The department imports coal, lime, stone, salt, raw sulphur, skins and timber and exports agricultural and mineral products, bricks and tiles, and other manufactured goods. It is served by the Southern railway. The Canal du Midi, following the courses of the Fresquel and the Aude, traverses it for 76 m.; and a branch, the Canal de la Robine, which passes through Narbonne to the sea, has a length of 24 m. The capital is Carcassonne, and the department is divided into the four arrondissements of Carcassonne, Limoux, Narbonne and Castelnaudary, with 31 cantons and 439 communes. It belongs to the 16th military region, and to the académie (educational division) of Montpellier, where also is its court of appeal. It forms the diocese of Carcassonne, and part of the province of the archbishop of Toulouse. Carcassonne, Narbonne and Castelnaudary are the principal towns. At Alet, which has hot springs of some note, there are ruins of a fine Romanesque cathedral destroyed in the religious wars of the 16th century. The extensive buildings of the Cistercian abbey of Fontfroide, near Bizanet, include a Romanesque church, a cloister, dormitories and a refectory of the 12th century. A curious polygonal church of the 11th century at Rieux-Minervois, the abbey-church at St Papoul, with its graceful cloister of the 14th century, and the remains of the important abbey of St Hilaire, founded in the 6th century and rebuilt from the 12th to the 15th century, are also of antiquarian interest. Rennes-les-Bains has mineral springs of repute.