Landforms, climate, local economy and animals: here's a quick overview of the natural assets of the Lot-et-Garonne!
Lot-et-Garonne has all the characteristic landscapes of the South-West: small villages, bastides, rolling plains, colourful markets, forests, etc. It is located at the crossroads of the Périgord, Bordeaux, the Quercy, the Gascony and les Landes: this is what defines the identity of the Lot-et-Garonne!
Its topography, its hilly landscapes and the gentle way of life that reigns there, have given it the name "Little Tuscany" by the writer Stendhal ; and its leading position as a producer of certain fresh fruit and vegetables have led to it being called "the orchard of France".
The Lot-et-Garonne is a French department in the south-west of France, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It was named after the two major rivers that flow through it: the Lot and the Garonne. The capital is Agen. There are many neighbouring departments: Lot, Tarn-et-Garonne, Gers, Landes, Gironde and Dordogne.
The relief of the Lot-et-Garonne is considered to be fairly gentle: the northern part consists mainly of rolling limestone hills. There are beautiful views on large cereal fields and meadows. In general, there is little difference in altitude. The few hills in the landscape (called pech) have seen the foundation of towns and villages, such as Castillonnès, Cancon and Monflanquin.
To the east, around and to the north of Fumel, forest areas have been preserved and have been relatively protected from deforestation: the north-east of the department is called "le Pays au Bois", and this goes as far as the south of the Dordogne. This region, thanks to the forest, the river and the relief, was of particular interest to the first men: caves have been found there, as well as numerous microliths (very small objects made of hard rock) which would have been used as armatures for arrows. To find out more about the link between the region and prehistory, visit the Musée de Préhistoire in Sauveterre-la-Lémance!
The Lot-et-Garonne and its surroundings also attracted people in the Middle Ages. Several castles were built in this region: Biron to the south of the Dordogne, Gavaudun in the village of the same name and Bonaguil to the east of Fumel, on the border with the Lot. The Gavaudun valley, east of Monflanquin, is classified as a Natura 2000 site.
The plains are very important for the local economy: they represent more than 100,000 hectares, mainly around the Garonne and the Lot. The wetlands are often occupied by crops that require a lot of irrigation: maize and poplars. These trees are used by the wood industry to make crates. But it is mainly horticulture that dominates these vast areas.
The Lot-et-Garonne is the leading producer of kiwis, hazelnuts and strawberries. There are some important vineyards located in the department (in particular Buzet in the south and Duras in the north-west), and orchards of plums “d’ente” (a variety of plum that is used to produce the prunes of Agen) are also very visible.
The Garonne Valley, thanks to important climatic and pedological advantages (study and analysis of the soils), has specialised in the cultivation of fresh produce, as well as cereal growing (maize, wheat, barley...).
De Lot-et-Garonne is located in the oceanic climate zone. However, it is a mild oceanic climate, with a greater annual temperature range and less rainfall than on the Aquitaine coast. The amount of sunshine is slightly higher and the amount of rainfall slightly less than the national average.
834 animal species have been identified by scientists in Lot-et-Garonne, including 219 that are threatened, such as the European eel, the skylark, the greylag goose, the long-eared owl and the window swallow.
163 of these species represent a conservation challenge of between "moderate" and "major" for the whole biosphere.
300 are protected at national level, such as the sparrowhawk or the European kingfisher, the short-eared owl, the great egret, several species of heron, etc.