1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drôme

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DRÔME, a department in the south-east of France, formed of parts of Dauphiné and Provence, and bounded W. by the Rhone, which separates it from Ardèche, N. and N.E. by Isère, E. by Hautes-Alpes, S.E. by Basses-Alpes, and S. by Vaucluse; area 2533 sq. m.; pop. (1906) 297,270. Drôme is traversed from east to west by numerous rivers of the Rhone basin, chief among which are the Isère in the north, the Drôme in the centre and the Aygues in the south. The left bank of the Rhone is bordered by alluvial plains and low hills, but to the east of this zone the department is covered to the extent of two-thirds of its surface by spurs of the Alps, sloping down towards the west. To the north of the Drôme lie the Vercors and the Royans, a region of forest-clad ridges running uniformly north and south. South of that river the mountain system is broken, irregular and intersected everywhere by torrents. The most easterly portion of the department, where it touches the mountains of the Dévoluy, contains its culminating summit (7890 ft.). North of the Isère stretches a district of low hills terminating on the limits of the department in the Valloire, its most productive portion. The climate, except in the valleys bordering the Rhone, is cold, and winds blow incessantly. Snow is visible on the mountain-tops during the greater part of the year.

The agriculture of the department is moderately prosperous. The main crops are wheat, which is grown chiefly on the banks of the Isère and Rhone, oats and potatoes. Large flocks of sheep feed on the pastures in the south; cattle-raising is carried on principally in the north-east. Good wines, among which the famous Hermitage growth ranks first, are grown on the hills and plains near the Rhone and Drôme. Fruit culture is much practised. Olives and figs are grown in the south; the cultivation of mulberries and walnuts is more widely spread. In the rearing of silkworms Drôme ranks high in importance among French departments. The Montélimar district is noted for its truffles, which are also found elsewhere in the department. The mineral products of Drôme include lignite, blende, galena, calamine, freestone, lime, cement, potter’s clay and kaolin. Brick and tile works, potteries and porcelain manufactories exist in several localities. The industries comprise flour-milling, distilling, wood-sawing, turnery and dyeing. The chief textile industry is the preparation and weaving of silk, which is carried on in a number of towns. Woollen and cotton goods are also manufactured. Leather working and boot-making, which are carried on on a large scale at Romans, are important, and the manufacture of machinery, hats, confectionery and paper employs much labour. Drôme exports fruit, oil, cheese, wine, wool, live stock and its manufactured articles; the chief import is coal. It is served by the Paris-Lyon railway, and the Rhone and Isère furnish over 100 m. of navigable waterway. The canal de la Bourne, the only one in the department, is used for purposes of irrigation only. Drôme is divided into the arrondissements of Valence, Die, Montélimar and Nyons, comprising 29 cantons and 379 communes. The capital is Valence, which is the seat of a bishopric of the province of Avignon. The department forms part of the académie (educational division) of Grenoble, where its court of appeal is also located, and of the region of the XIV. army corps.

Besides Valence, the chief towns of the department are Die, Montélimar, Crest and Romans (qq.v.). Nyons is a small industrial town with a medieval bridge and remains of ramparts. Suze-la-Rousse is dominated by a fine château with fortifications of the 12th and 14th centuries; in the interior the buildings are in the Renaissance style. At St Donat there are remains of the palace of the kings of Cisjuran Burgundy; though but little of the building is of an earlier date than the 12th century, it is the oldest example of civil architecture in France. The churches of Léoncel, St Restitut and La Garde-Adhémar, all of Romanesque architecture, are also of antiquarian interest. St Paul-Trois-Châteaux, an old Roman town, once the seat of a bishopric, has a Romanesque cathedral. At Grignan there are remains of the Renaissance château where Madame de Sévigné died. At Tain there is a sacrificial altar of A.D. 184.