1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saône-et-Loire

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SAÔNE-ET-LOIRE, a department of east-central France formed from the districts of Autunois, Brionnais, Chalonnais, Charollais and Mâconnais, previously belonging to Burgundy. It is bounded N. by the department of Côte d'Or, E. by that of Jura, S.E. by Ain, S. by Rhône and Loire, W. by Allier and Nièvre. Pop. (1906) 613,377. Area, 3330 sq. m. Of the two rivers from which the department takes its name the Loire forms its south-western boundary, and the Saône traverses its eastern region from north to south. On the left bank of the Saône the department forms part of the wide plain of Bresse; on its right bank the centre of the department is occupied by the northern Cévennes, here divided by the river Grosne into two parallel ranges—the mountains of Mâconnais to the east, and the mountains of Charollais to the west. The general direction of these ranges is from south, where their altitude is greatest, to north. The north-west region of Saône-et-Loire is occupied by the southern portion of Morvan, which includes the highest point in the department—the Bois du Roi (2959 ft.). South-east of the Morvan lies the hilly region of Autunois, consisting of the basin of the Arroux, a right affluent of the Loire, and divided from the Charollais mountains by the Bourbince, a tributary of the Arroux. Besides those mentioned, the chief rivers of the department are the Doubs, which joins the Saône in the extreme north-east, the Seille, also an affluent of the Saône, and the Arconce, a tributary of the Loire watering the Charollais. The average temperature at Mâcon (52° or 53° F.), the most temperate spot in the department, is slightly higher than at Paris, the winter being colder and the summer hotter. At the same town the yearly rainfall is about 33 in., but both the rigour of the climate and the amount of rain increases in the hilly districts, reaching their maximum in the mountains of Morvan.

Agriculture prospers in Saône-et-Loire. Wheat, oats and maize are the cereals most cultivated; potatoes, clover and other fodder, and mangold-wurzels are important crops, and beetroot, hemp, colza and rape are also grown. Excellent pasture is found in the valleys of the Saône and other rivers. The vine, one of the principal resources of the department, is cultivated chiefly in the neighbourhood of Chalon and Mâcon. Of the wines of Mâconnais, the vintage of Thorins is in high repute. The white Charollais oxen are one of the finest French breeds; horses, pigs and sheep are reared, and poultry farming is a thriving occupation in the Bresse. The industrial importance of the department is great, chiefly owing to its coal and iron mines; the chief coal mines are those in the vicinity of Creusot, Autun and Chapelle-sous-Dun. A pit at Épinac is over 2600 ft. in depth. Iron is mined at Mazenay and Change, and manganese is found at Romanèche and there are quarries of various kinds. There are well-known warm mineral springs containing chloride of sodium and iron at Bourbon-Lancy. The iron and engineering works of Schneider & Company at Le Creusot are the largest in France. The department also has numerous flour-mills and distilleries, together with potteries, porcelain-works (Digoin), tile-works, oil-works and glass factories, and carries on various branches of the textile, chemical, leather and wood-working industries. It exports coal, metals, machinery, wine, Charollais cattle, bricks, pottery, glass. Its commerce is facilitated by navigable streams—the Loire, Saône, Doubs and Seille,—the Canal du Centre, which unites Chalon-sur-Saône with Digoin on the Loire, and the canal from Roanne to Digoin and the lateral Loire Canal, both following the main river valley. The chief railway of the department is the Paris–Lyon–Mediterranée. Saône-et-Loire forms the diocese of Autun; it is part of the district of the VIII. army corps (Bourges); its educational centre is Lyons and its court of appeal that of Dijon. It is divided into 5 arrondissements—Mâcon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Autun, Charolles, Louhans—50 cantons, and 589 communes.

Mâcon, Chalon, Autun, Le Creusot, Cluny, Montceau-Les-Mines, Tournus, Paray-le-Monial, Louhans and Charolles are the most noteworthy towns in the department and receive separate treatment. Other places of interest are St Marcel-lès-Chalon, where there is a Romanesque church, once attached to an abbey where Abélard died; Anzy, which has a Romanesque church and other remains of an important monastery; St Bonnet-de-Joux and Sully, both of which have châteaus of the 16th century; and Semur-en-Brionnais and Varennes-l'Arconce, with fine Romanesque churches. Prehistoric remains of the stone age have been found at Solutré near Mâcon.