societies and in many other ways. The chief type of agricultural society is the comice agricole
, an association for the discussion of agricultural problems and the organization of provincial shows. There are besides several thousands of local syndicates, engaged in the purchase of materials and sale of produce on the most advantageous terms for their members, credit banks and mutual insurance societies (see Co-operation
). Three societies demand special mention: the Union centrale des agriculteurs de France
, to which the above syndicates are affiliated; the Société nationale d’agriculture
, whose mission is to further agricultural progress and to supply the government with information on everything appertaining thereto and the Société des agriculteurs de France
Among a variety of premiums awarded by the state are those for the best cultivated estates and for irrigation works, and to the owners of the best stallions and brood-mares. Haras or stallion stables containing in all over 3000 horses are established in twenty-two central towns, and annually send stallions, which are at the disposal of private individuals in return for a small fee, to various stations throughout the country. Other institutions belonging to the state are the national sheep-fold of Rambouillet (Seine-et-Oise) and the cow-house of Vieux-Pin (Orne) for the breeding of Durham cows. Four different grades of institution for agricultural instruction are under state direction: (1) farm-schools and schools of apprenticeship in dairying, &c., to which the age of admission is from 14 to 16 years; (2) practical schools, to which boys of from 13 to 18 years of age are admitted. These number forty-eight, and are intended for sons of farmers of good position; (3) national schools, which are established at Grignon (Seine-et-Oise), Rennes and Montpellier, candidates for which must be 17 years of age; (4) the National Agronomic Institute at Paris, which is intended for the training of estate agents, professors, &c. There are also departmental chairs of agriculture, the holders of which give instruction in training-colleges and elsewhere and advise farmers.
Forests.—In relation to its total extent, France presents but a very limited area of forest land, amounting to only 36,700 sq. m. or about 18% of the entire surface of the country. Included under the denomination of “forest” are lands—surfaces boisées—which are bush rather than forest. The most wooded parts of France are the mountains and plateaus of the east and of the north-east, comprising the pine-forests of the Vosges and Jura (including the beautiful Forest of Chaux), the Forest of Haye, the Forest of Ardennes, the Forest of Argonne, &c.; the Landes, where replanting with maritime pines has transformed large areas of marsh into forest; and the departments of Var and Ariège. The Central Mountains and the Morvan also have considerable belts of wood. In the Parisian region there are the Forests of Fontainebleau (66 sq. m.), of Compiègne (56 sq. m.), of Rambouillet, of Villers-Cotterets, &c. The Forest of Orléans, the largest in France, covers about 145 sq. m. The Alps and Pyrenees are in large part deforested, but reafforestation with a view to minimizing the effects of avalanches and sudden floods is continually in progress.
Of the forests of the country approximately one-third belongs to the state, communes and public institutions. The rest belongs to private owners who are, however, subject to certain restrictions. The Department of Waters
and Forests (Administration des Eaux et Forêts
) forms a branch of the ministry of agriculture. It is administered by a director-general, who has his headquarters at Paris, assisted by three administrators who are charged with the working of the forests, questions of rights and law, finance and plantation works. The establishment consists of 32
conservators, each at the head of a district comprising one or more departments, 200
sub-inspectors and about 300 gardes généraux
. These officials form the higher grade of the service (agents
). There are besides several thousand forest-rangers and other employés (préposés
). The department is supplied with officials of the higher class from the National School of Waters and Forests at Nancy, founded in 1824
In France, as in other countries, the development of machinery, whether run by steam, water-power or other motive forces, has played a great part in the promotion of industry; the increase in the amount of steam horse-power employed in industrial establishments is, to a certain degree, an index to the activity of the country as regards manufactures.
The appended table shows the progress made since 1850 with regard to steam power. Railway and marine locomotives are not included.
With the exception of Loire, Bouches-du-Rhône and Rhône, the chief industrial departments of France are to be found in the north and north-east of the country. In 1901 and 1896 those in which the working inhabitants of both sexes were engaged in industry as opposed to agriculture to the extent of 50% (approximately) or over, numbered eleven, viz.:—
|| Total Working
| Percentage engaged
| Nord ....
| Territoire de Belfort
| Loire ....
| Seine ....
| Bouches-du-Rhône .
| Ardennes ...
| Pas-de-Calais ..
The department of Seine, comprising Paris and its suburbs, which has the largest manufacturing population, is largely occupied with the manufacture of dress, millinery and articles of luxury (perfumery, &c.), but it plays the leading part in almost every great branch of industry with the exception of spinning and weaving. The typically industrial region of France is the department of Nord, the seat of the woollen industry, but also prominently concerned in other textile industries, in metal working, and in a variety of other manufactures, fuel for which is supplied by its coal-fields. The following sketch of the manufacturing industry of France takes account chiefly of those of its branches which are capable in some degree of localization. Many of the great industries of the country, e.g. tanning, brick-making, the manufacture of garments, &c., are evenly distributed throughout it, and are to be found in or near all larger centres of population.
- ↑ The department is also entrusted with surveillance over river-fishing, pisciculture and the amelioration of pasture.