1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pas-de-Calais

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PAS-DE-CALAIS, a maritime department of northern France, formed in 1790 of nearly the whole of Artois and the northern maritime portion of Picardy including Boulonnais, Calaisis, Ardresis, and the districts of Langle and Bredenarde, and bounded N. by the Straits of Dover (“Pas de Calais”), E. by the department of Nord, S. by that of Somme, and W. by the English Channel. Pop. (1906), 1,012,466; Area 2606 sq. m. Except in the neighbourhood of Boulogne-sur-Mer with its côtes de fer or “iron coasts,” the seaboard of the department, which measures 65 m., consists of dunes. From the mouth of the Aa (the hmit towards Nord) it trends west-south-west to Gris Nez, the point of France nearest to England; in this section lie the port of Calais, Cape Blanc Nez, rising 440 ft. above the sandy shores, and the port of Wissant (Wishant). The seaside resorts include Boulogne, Berck-sur-Mer, Paris-Plage, Wimereux, &c. Beyond Griz Nez the direction is due south; in this section are the small port of Ambleteuse, Boulogne at the mouth of the Liane, and the two bays formed by the estuaries of the Canche and the Authie (the hmit towards Somme). The highest point in the department (700 ft.) is in the west, between Boulogne and StOmer. From the iiplands in which it is situated the Lys and Scarpe flow east to the Scheldt, the Aa north to the German Ocean, and the Slacic, Wimereux and Liane to the Channel. Farther south are the valleys of the Canche and the Authie, running E.S.E. and W.N.W., and thus parallel with the Somme. Vast plains, open and monotonous, but extremely fertile and well cultivated, occupy most of the department. To the north of the hills running between St Omer and Boulogne, to the south of Gravelines and the south-east of Calais, lies the district of the Wattergands, fens now drained by means of canals and dikes, and turned into highly productive land. The cHmate is free from extremes of heat and cold, but damp and changeable. At Arras the mean annual temperature is 47°; on the coast it is higher. The rainfall varies from 24 to 32 in., though at Cape Gris Nez the latter figure is much exceeded. Cereals are largely grown and give good yields to the acre; the other principal crops are potatoes, sugar-beet, forage, oil-plants and tobacco. Market gardening flourishes in the Wattergands. The rearing of livestock and poultry is actively carried on, and the horses of the Boulonnais are specially esteemed.

The department is the chief in France for the production of coal, its principal coal-basin, which is a continuation of that of Valenciennes, centring round Bethune. The manufacture of beetroot-sugar, oil and alcohol distilling, iron-working, dyeing, brewing, paper-making, and various branches of the textile manufacture, are foremost among the industries of the department. Boulogne, Calais and fitaples fit out a considerable number of vessels for the cod, herring and mackerel fisheries. Calais and Boulogne are important ports of passenger-transit for England; and Boulogne also carries on a large export trade in the products of the department. The canal system comprises part of the Aa, the Lys, the Scarpe, the Deule (a tributary of the Lys passing by Lille), the Lawe (a tributary of the Lys passing by Bethune), and the Sensee (an affluent of the Scheldt), as weU as the canals of Aire to Bauvin, Neuffosse, Calais, Calais to Ardres, &c., and in this way a line of communication is formed from the Scheldt to the sea by Bethune, St Omer and Calais, with branches to Gravelines and Dunkirk. The department is served by the Northern railway.

Pas-de-Calais forms the diocese of Arras (archbishopric of Cambrai), belongs to the district of the I. army corps, the educational division (academie) of Lille and the circumscription of the appeal court of Douai. There are six arrondissements (Arras, Bethune, Boulogne, Montreuil-sur-Mer, St Omer and St Pol-sur-Ternoise). The more noteworthy places are Arras, the capital, Boulogne, Calais, St Omer, Bethune, Lens, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Bruay, Berck, fitaples and Aire-sur-la-Lys, which are noticed separately. Besides some of the towns mentioned, Lievin (22,070), Henin-Lietard (13,384), in the neighbourhood of Lens, are large centres of population. Other places of some importance are: Lillers (pop. 5341), which carries on boot making and has a fine Romanesque church of the 12th century; Hesdin, which owes its regular plan to Charles V., by whom it was built; and St Pol, which has the remains of medieval fortifications and castles and gave its name to the famous counts of St Pol.