The Garonne is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of 602 kilometres. It flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Bordeaux; the name derives from Garumna, a Latinized version of the Aquitanian name meaning "stony river". The Garonne's headwaters are to be found in the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees, though three different locations have been proposed as the true source: the Uelh deth Garona at Plan de Beret, the Ratera-Saboredo cirque 42°36′26″N 0°57′56″E), or the slopes of Pic Aneto; the Uelh deth Garona at 1,862 metres above sea level has been traditionally considered as the source of the Garonne. From this point a brook runs for 2.5 kilometres until the bed of the main upper Garonne valley. The river runs for another 38 kilometres until the French border at Pont de Rei, 40.5 kilometres in total. The Ratera-Saboredo cirque is the head of the upper Garonne valley, its upper lake at 2,600 metres above sea level is the origin of the Ruda-Garona river, running for 16 kilometres until the confluence with the Beret-Garona brook, another 38 kilometres until the French border at Pont del Rei, 54 kilometres in total.
At the confluence, the Ruda-Garona carries 2.6 cubic metres per second of water. The Ratera-Saboredo cirque has been pointed by many researchers as the origin of the Garonne; the third thesis holds that the river rises on the slopes of Pic Aneto at 2,300 metres above sea level and flows by way of a sinkhole known as the Forau de Aigualluts through the limestone of the Tuca Blanca de Pomèro and a resurgence in the Val dera Artiga above the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees. This underground route was suggested by the geologist Ramond de Carbonnières in 1787, but there was no confirmation until 1931, when caver Norbert Casteret poured fluorescein dye into the flow and noted its emergence a few hours 4 kilometres away at Uelhs deth Joèu in the Artiga de Lin on the other side of the mountain. From Aigualluts to the confluence with the main river at the bed of the upper Garonne valley at 800 metres above sea level, the Joèu has run for 12.4 kilometres, carrying 2.16 cubic metres per second of water, while the main river is carrying 17.7 cubic metres per second.
Despite the lack of universal agreement upon definition for determining a stream's source, the United States Geological Survey, the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution agree that a stream's source should be considered as the most distant point in the drainage basin from which water runs. The Ratera-Saboredo cirque is the "most distant point in the drainage basin from which water runs", the source of the Garonne, according to the United States Geological Survey, the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution convention upon determining a stream's source; the Garonne follows the Aran Valley northwards into France, flowing via Toulouse and Agen towards Bordeaux, where it meets the Gironde estuary. The Gironde flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Along its course, the Garonne is joined by three other major rivers: the Ariège, the Tarn, the Lot. Just after Bordeaux, the Garonne meets the Dordogne at the Bec d'Ambès, forming the Gironde estuary, which after 100 kilometres empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Other tributaries include the Gers. The Garonne is one of the few rivers in the world. Surfers and jet skiers could ride the tidal bore at least as far as the village of Cambes, 120 kilometres or 75 miles from the Atlantic, further upstream to Cadillac, although the tidal bore appears and disappears in response to changes in the channel bathymetry. In 2010 and 2012, some detailed field studies were conducted in the Garonne's Arcins channel between Arcins Island and the right bank close to Lastrene township. A striking feature of the field data sets was the large and rapid fluctuations in turbulent velocities and turbulent stresses during the tidal bore and flood flow; the European sea sturgeon known as the Atlantic sturgeon or common sturgeon, is now a Critically Endangered species status. This species of sturgeon that can reach a length of 6 m and weigh 400 kg and can reach an age of 100 year Previously found on most coasts of Europe, it has now become so rare that they ONLY breed in the Garonne river basin in France.
Conservation projects are under way to save this fish from extinction with species reintroduction from aquaculture with the first releases being made in 1995. Aran Valley: Vielha, Bossòst Haute-Garonne: Saint-Gaudens, Toulouse Tarn-et-Garonne: Castelsarrasin Lot-et-Garonne: Agen, Aiguillon Gironde: Langon, Bordeaux Following the flow of the river: The Garonne plays an important role in inland shipping; the river not only allows seagoing vessels to reach the port of Bordeaux but forms part of the Canal des Deux Mers, linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. From the ocean, ships pass through the Gironde estuary up to the mouth of the Garonne. Ships continue on the tidal river Garonne up to the Pont de Pierre in Bordeaux. Inland vessels continue upstream to Castets-en-Dor
The Bec d'Ambès is the point of confluence of the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, in the Gironde estuary. Situated 15 miles north of Bordeaux, it has an oil refinery, destroyed by bombing during World War II, but rebuilt after the war, it is in the Ambès commune
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Departments of France
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, five are overseas departments, which are classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils; each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school buildings and technical staff, local roads and school and rural buses, a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; the departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity.
All of them were named after physical geographical features, rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had been discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers; the earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in some of them former French colonies. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Overseas departments have a three-digit number; the number is used, for example, in the postal code, was until used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.
For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45". In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, to transfer their powers to other levels of governance; this reform project has since been abandoned. The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées infrastructure administration. Before the French Revolution, France gained territory through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved in order to weaken old loyalties; the modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure.
Their boundaries served two purposes: Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department; this was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government; the old nomenclature was avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after other physical features. Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc; the number of departments 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86.
In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department; the 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin became known as the Territoire de Belfort; when France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department; the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, a new Moselle department was created in the regaine
Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines in France and Australia. Its thin skin and susceptibility to botrytis make it dominate the sweet wine region Sauternes AOC and Barsac AOC; the Sémillon grape is native to the Bordeaux region. It was known as Sémillon de Saint-Émilion in 1736, while Sémillon resembles the local pronunciation of the town’s name, it first arrived in Australia in the early 19th century and by the 1820s the grape covered over 90 percent of South Africa's vineyards, where it was known as Wyndruif, meaning "wine grape". It was once considered to be the most planted grape in the world, although this is no longer the case. In the 1950s, Chile's vineyards were made up of over 75% Sémillon. Today, it accounts for just 1% of South African Cape vines. Sémillon, easy to cultivate produces six to eight tons of grapes per acre from its vigorous vines, it is resistant to disease, except for rot. The grape ripens early. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is a risk of sunburn in hotter climates.
The Sémillon grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an oily texture. It has a high yield and wines based on it can age a long time. Along with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle, Sémillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region; the grape is key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes. For the grapes to be used for sweet wine production, they need to have been affected by Botrytis; this fungus dries out the grapes, thus concentrating the sugar and flavours in the grape berry. Sémillon is an important cultivar in two significant wine producing countries. In France, Sémillon is the preeminent white grape in the Bordeaux wine regions; the grape has found a home in Australia. In France, the Sémillon grape is grown in Bordeaux where it is blended with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle; when dry, it is referred to as Bordeaux blanc and is permitted to be made in the appellations of Pessac-Léognan, Entre-Deux-Mers and other less-renowned regions. In this form, Sémillon is a minor constituent in the blend.
However, when used to make the sweet white wines of Bordeaux it is the dominant variety. In such wines the vine is exposed to the "noble rot" of Botrytis cinerea which consumes the water content of the fruit, concentrating the sugar present in its pulp; when attacked by Botrytis cinerea, the grapes shrivel and the acid and sugar levels are intensified. Due to the declining popularity of the grape variety, fewer clones are cultivated in nurseries causing producers to project a future shortage of quality wine. In 2008, 17 Bordeaux wine producers, including Château d'Yquem, Château Olivier, Château Suduiraut and Château La Tour Blanche, formed an association to grow their own clones. Sémillon is grown in Australia in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney, where for a long time it was known as "Hunter River Riesling". Four styles of Sémillon-based wines are made there: a commercial style blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc; the latter two styles were pioneered by Lindemans, Tulloch, McWilliam's Elizabeth, Drayton's and Tyrrell's, are considered unique to Australia.
Most examples of these bottle-aged Hunter Semillons exhibit a buttercup-yellow colour, burnt toast or honey characteristics on the nose and excellent complex flavours on the palate, with a long finish and soft acid. Young Hunter Valley semillon is always a dry wine exhibiting citrus flavours of lemon, lime or green apple. Cooler-year Hunter Semillons seem to be the most sought after, with some of the 1974 and 1977 vintages still drinking well; the newer, fruit-accentuated styles are championed by the likes of Iain Riggs at Brokenwood Wines and The Rothbury Estate. Sémillon is finding favour with Australian producers outside the Hunter Valley in the Barossa Valley and Margaret River regions; the Adelaide Hills is becoming a flourishing region for Semillon, with the cooler climate producing some wines of great complexity. Vineyards such as Amadio and Paracombe produce some premium blends of the classical style. Semillon is one of the Cape’s true heritage white varietals, with origins as early as the 17th century, the grape variety accounted for more than 90% of plantings in the first half of the 19th century.
While South African Semillon has not quite taken off as a serious commercial category in single varietal form in the modern era, there are stunning wines being made from older vineyards. More the variety plays a role in beefing up the volume of Sauvignon blancs; the best South African Semillons have juicy fruit with an ethereal-like citrus perfume, fine texture, herbal interest and manage to marry the intensity of flavour with finesse. Outside of these regions, however, Sémillon is unpopular and criticised for lack of complexity and intensity; as such, plantings have decreased over the last century. As referenced above, the grape can still be found in South Chile; the latter is reputed to have the largest plantin
The Dordogne is a river in south-central and southwest France. The Dordogne and its watershed were designated Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO on July 11 2012; the river rises on the flanks of the Puy de Sancy at 1,885 metres above sea level in the mountains of Auvergne, from the confluence of two small torrents above the town of Le Mont-Dore: the Dore and the Dogne. It flows west about 500 kilometres through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne, at the Bec d'Ambès, north of the city of Bordeaux; the Dordogne is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit the phenomenon of a tidal bore, known as a mascaret. The upper valley of the Dordogne is a series of deep gorges; the cliffs, steep banks, fast flowing water and high bridges attract both drivers. In several places the river is dammed to form deep lakes. Camp sites and holiday homes have proliferated wherever the valley floor is wide enough to accommodate them. Below Argentat and around Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, the valley widens to accommodate fertile farmland, well-watered pasture and orchards.
In the towns, which are major tourist attractions because of their history and architecture, the quaysides are lined with eating and drinking places. In Périgord, the valley widens further to encompass one of France's main gastronomic regions, with vineyards, poultry farms and truffle-rich woodlands; the main season for tourism in the Valley of the Dordogne is from June to September, with July and August being high season. The lifestyle and culture of the Dordogne valley attract both visitors and incomers from all over France, but from many other countries Britain and Germany; the départements of France through which the Dordogne runs, together with some towns in those départements that are on or quite near the river, are as follows: The département of Puy-de-Dôme – The towns of Le Mont-Dore and La Bourboule. Main tributaries from source to mouth: Chavanon. N. B.: = right tributary. The Dordogne at the Sandre database The Dordogne Valley in the Lot department The Dordogne Valley UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Bordeaux wine regions
The wine regions of Bordeaux are a large number of wine growing areas, differing in size and sometimes overlapping, which lie within the overarching wine region of Bordeaux, centred on the city of Bordeaux and covering the whole area of the Gironde department of Aquitaine. The Bordeaux region is divided by the Gironde Estuary into a Left Bank area which includes the Médoc and Graves and a Right Bank area which includes the Libournais and Blaye; the Médoc is itself divided into Bas-Médoc. There are various sub-regions within the Haut-Médoc, including St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St.-Julien and Margaux and the less well known areas of AOC Moulis and Listrac. Graves includes the sub-regions of Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes, Sauternes in turn includes the sub-region of Barsac; the Libournais includes the sub-regions of Pomerol. There is an additional wine region of Entre-Deux-Mers, so called because it lies between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, which combine to form the Gironde; this region contains several less well known sweet wine areas of St. Croix de Mont..
All of these regions have their own appellation and are governed by Appellation d'origine contrôlée laws which dictate the permissible grape varieties, alcohol level, methods of pruning and picking, density of planting and appropriate yields as well as various winemaking techniques. Bordeaux wine labels will include the region on the front if all the grapes have been harvested in a specific region and the wine otherwise complies with the AOC requirements. There are about 50 AOCs applicable to the Bordeaux region. Both red and white Bordeaux wines are invariably blended; the permissible grape varieties in red Bordeaux are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. While wine making styles vary, a rule of thumb is that the Left Bank is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon based with the Right Bank being more Merlot based; the Graves area produces both red wine and white wine from the Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes. The area of Sauternes is known for its botrytized dessert wines.
There are a number of classifications of Bordeaux wines. None of these attempts to be a comprehensive classification of all the producers within a given area: rather, only the producers perceived as being of an unusually high standard are included in the classification; the châteaux included in the classification are referred to as classed or classé, those not included are referred to as unclassed. Some classifications sub-divide the classed châteaux, according to the perceived quality. On the Left Bank, the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 is the starting point for classification. Although this purports to be a classification of all Bordeaux wine, it in fact lists red wine producers from the Haut-Médoc plus Château Haut-Brion of Graves, sweet white wine producers from Sauternes. Estates in the Médoc which were not classified in that listing may be classified under the Cru Bourgeois label. In 1953, a Classification of Graves wine was produced. Although this purports to classify the whole of Graves, it lists châteaux in Pessac-Léognan.
In 1954, a separate classification of Saint-Émilion wine was set up for this Right Bank region. There are eight AOCs. Any producer within the region is entitled to use these appellations, whether or not they are entitled to use a more specific regional appellation; these appellations are: Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux Sec, Bordeaux Moelleux, Bordeaux Clairet, Crémant-de-Bordeaux, Bordeaux Rosé and Vin de Pays de l'Atlantique. Where these appellations are used for wines which would otherwise be entitled to use a more specific appellation, they are used for wines of lower quality made by a négociant or co-operative. Many of Bordeaux's supermarket brands like Mouton Cadet, Dourthe Numero 1 and Sichel Sirius utilise these generic Bordeaux AOCs. More than half of Bordeaux's production uses these generic appellations. Red wine produced under the Bordeaux AOC is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the addition of Cabernet Franc and small amounts of Petit Verdot and Carmenère; this appellation covers around 42,600 hectares of vines and produces around 223 million litres of wine.
White wine produced under the Bordeaux Sec AOC is made from Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon, with the addition of some Muscadelle, Mauzac, Merlot blanc and Ugni blanc. It must contain no more than 4g/l of residual sugar; this appellation covers around 38 million litres of wine. If it has more than 4g/l of residual sugar it may be labelled as Bordeaux Molleux AOC, but little wine is in fact produced under this AOC. Bordeaux Supérieur AOC covers both red and white wines, the grapes used are the same, but permitted yields are lower, minimum alcohol content is higher and longer aging is required; the amount of red wine produced under this appellation is much greater than the amount of white wine produced. Rosé wine produced under the Bordeaux Rosé AOC is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; as is usual for Rosé, the grape skins are brief