Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

THE ECONOMIC LIFE OF FRANCE.

295

passes to the west down the Garonne Valley to Bordeaux From Bordeaux a route passes northward, to the west of the highlands, and along the coast to the city of Tours. At Tours this stream of trade is joined by that from the southern and western seas, and is carried inland to Paris. The great capital receives these streams from the south and feeds, and is in turn fed, from the fan-shaped network of commercial highways which branch out in every direction over the plains of the north. The chief of these bring Paris into close communication with Belgium and the coast.

Paris is situated in the center of the largest habitable plain of France. It is at the place where the road from the Mediterranean crosses the overland route from Spain to the low countries. The capital is near enough to the most important disputed boundaries to be able to throw the power of the nation into their protection, yet it is far enough inland from the channel to be safe from naval attack. The latitude gives Paris a climate which permits of continuous labor, and does not unduly complicate municipal sanitary problems. The metropolis is surrounded by regions which supplement one another in a beautiful manner in ministering to her necessities. On the northeast is a group of large cities devoted to the textile industries. In the southeast are the chalk plains, famous for wine. From the southwest comes grain. Due west are the Percheron and Norman hills furnishing their celebrated breeds of horses, while from further away, Brittany sends butter and eggs, honey and fish. Along the shores in the north and west are the ports of Dunkerque, Calais, Dieppe and Le Havre, for communication, while the lover of surf bathing finds the beach of Trouville not far away. The immediate environs have had not a little to do with the prosperity of the city. The merits of these are abundant artesian water and fine building-stone, a fertile surrounding soil able to assist in provisioning a metropolis, and romantic beauty of landscape, able, in the days of a monarchy, to attract a king to erect palaces and, in those of a republic, to stimulate a matter-of-fact bourgeois, and refresh an exhausted ouvrier on a holiday outing.