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Loire,department (1990 pop. 747,100), E central France, in part of Beaujolais and Lyonnais. Saint-ÉtienneSaint-Étienne
, city (1990 pop. 201,569), capital of Loire dept., SE France, in the Massif Central. The metropolitan region occupies much of what was once a major coal-mining and steelmaking district. Manufactures include ribbons (famous since the 15th cent.
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Loire,longest river of France, c.630 mi (1,010 km) long, rising in the Cévennes Mts., SE France, and flowing in an arc through central and W France to the Atlantic Ocean at Saint-Nazaire. The upper Loire swiftly flows northwestward through numerous gorges in the Massif Central. At Orléans it swings southwest and enters a wide fertile valley; Tours and Angers are there. In the Loire basin lie the rich fields, gardens, and vineyards of Orléanais, Touraine, and Anjou. At the head of the Loire estuary, c.35 mi (55 km) from the sea, is the industrial city of Nantes. The Loire's chief tributaries are the Allier, Cher, and Vienne. Silting, shallowness, and seasonal volume fluctuations limit the use of the Loire for navigation. Because the Loire is subject to heavy flooding, its banks are lined with dikes. The Loire Lateral Canal parallels the river from Roanne to Briare. Other canals connect the river with the Seine and Rhône river systems. The Loire valley has fostered traditions of civilized living that have become a heritage of all France. The châteaus of the Loire region are embodiments of French history and civilization.
a department in France on the eastern outskirts of the Massif Central, in the basin of the upper Loire. Area, 4,800 sq km; population, 733,000 (1972). The prefecture is Saint-Etienne. The department has coal, metallurgical, machine-building, electrical-engineering, chemical, glass, food, silk, and cotton textile industries. There is livestock raising on the mountain pastures, and wheat, potatoes, and fodder crops are cultivated in the valley.
the longest river in France, with a length of 1,012 km and a basin area of 115,000 sq km. It rises in the Cevennes and cuts through mountains until reaching the Allier River, below which it flows through the Loire Valley. It empties into the Bay of Biscay, forming estuaries. The principal tributaries are the Cher, Vienne, Sarthe, and Loir. During severe floods the Loire Valley is submerged along the river’s middle and lower courses. As a result, dikes have been built along the channel (300-500 m wide). High water occurs in February and March, and low water in August and September. The mean flow rate in the lower course is 843 cu m sec; the maximum flow rate is 6,000-8,000 cu m sec. Below the city of Nantes the river is affected by ocean tides.
The Loire is navigable to Roanne; above Orleans it is navigable primarily via by-pass canals. It is accessible to ocean vessels as far as Nantes (53 km from the mouth) and is linked by canals with the Seine, Saone, and Rhine rivers. The cities of Roanne, Nevers, Orleans, Tours, and Nantes are on the Loire.
In the valley are numerous late Gothic and Renaissance chateaus from the late 15th and 16th centuries. Among these chateaus are those of Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, Chambord, and Chenonceaux, which are noted for their complex yet rational composition, strict differentiation of the facade decoration, and meticulousness and refinement of some of the architectural forms.
a valley in western France in the basin of the middle and lower Loire. Its northeastern section is in the Paris Basin. Average elevation, approximately 100 m. In the west the valley is washed by the Bay of Biscay, which forms numerous bights. Composed primarily of Mesozoic limestones and sandstones it is often covered with mixtures of clay and sandstone and, in the east and south, with alluvial sands. In some places there are individual cuesta ridges and erosional hills; in the northeast is the flat Sologne depression with a large number of lakes. The climate is temperate and maritime, with average January temperatures of 2°-6°C and average July temperatures of 18°-20°C; the annual precipitation is 600-700 mm. There is a dense network of rivers. Soils are forest brown and podzolic. Beech, oak, and pine forests, as well as heaths and meadows, are found in the valley. Wheat and vegetables are cultivated, and the meadows are sown. Many areas in the Loire Valley have undergone melioration. There is livestock raising. The large cities are Orleans, Tours, Angers, and Nantes.