Location of Deux-Sèvres in France
|• President of the General Council||Eric Gautier (PS)|
|• Total||5,999 km2 (2,316 sq mi)|
|• Density||61/km2 (160/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2|
Deux-Sèvres (French pronunciation: [dø sɛvʁ]) is a French department. Deux-Sèvres literally means "two Sèvres": the Sèvre Nantaise and the Sèvre Niortaise are two rivers which have their sources in the department.
Deux-Sèvres was one of the 83 original départements created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790.
Departmental borders were changed in 1973 when the inhabitants of the little commune of Puy-Saint-Bonnet became formally associated with the rapidly growing adjacent commune of Cholet. Cholet is in the neighbouring department of Maine-et-Loire: in order to avoid the associated communes being administered in separate departments, Puy-Saint-Bonnet was transferred into Maine-et-Loire.
Geography and economics
The climate is mild, the annual temperature averaging 11 degrees Celsius.
The département remains rural: three-quarters of the area consists of arable land. Wheat and oats are the main products grown, as well as potatoes, apples, and walnuts. Niort is the center for growing vegetables and angelica. Some beetroot is grown in the district of Melle. Vineyards are numerous in the north (Haut-poitou (AOVDQS)), and there are some in the south. The département is also well known for the breeding of cattle, mules, and horses. The Parthenais breed of cattle is named after the town of Parthenay in the north of the département. Also, dairy products are produced in significant quantities (butter in Échiré and goats' cheese).
Textiles, leather-tanning, and flour milling were the traditional industries of Niort, the capital and major city. Nowadays, Niort, with 60,000 inhabitants, is an important commercial and administrative center; in particular it is one of the main financial centers in France (fourth in rank after Paris, Lyon and Lille). Niort is the national headquarters of some of the major insurance companies in France (Mutuelle d'assurance des artisans de France (MAAF), Mutuelle assurance des commerçants et industriels de France et des cadres et des salariés de l'industrie et du commerce (MACIF), Mutuelle d'assurance des instituteurs de France (MAIF) and others) and regional headquarters of others such as Groupama. The regional headquarters of several national banks including Banque Populaire and Crédit Agricole are located there. The services sector is also heavily represented in Niort, in consulting, accounting, brokerage and software. Chemistry, pharmacy (Boiron) and aeronautics (Zodiac Group, Leach International) are the main industries.
The unemployment rate in the département is very low (less than 5%) especially in the north-west, where many small and medium companies are developing rapidly.
Niort in the south of the département is connected to Paris and Bordeaux by the A10 motorway, with Nantes by the A83, with La Rochelle and Poitiers by the N11. Another important road in the north of the département is the Route nationale 149 (RN149), which runs roughly east-west from Mortagne-sur-Sèvre to Poitiers, passing through Bressuire and Parthenay. The RN149 forms part of the European route E62 from Nantes to Genoa. In Autumn 2008, the Route nationale 249 (RN249), currently running from Nantes to Cholet, was extended, continuing, eventually, towards Bressuire and on to Poitiers. This will become part of the E62 and bypass the current RN149.
The département has two railway stations on the TGV route between Paris and La Rochelle (Niort and Saint-Maixent), with a journey from Niort to Paris taking 2h15. It is also served by several TER Poitou-Charentes regional railway routes, including a route from Poitiers via Niort to La Rochelle, a route from Niort to Saintes, and a route from Tours to Thouars and Bressuire. A railway bus service operated as part of the TER Poitou-Charentes network follows the RN149 from Poitiers to Nantes, calling at Parthenay and Bressuire. Additionally the département provides the Réseau des Deux-Sèvres, an inter-urban bus service that connects the towns and villages of the département.
There are no airports with scheduled airline service within the département, although Niort-Souche Airport is used for private movements. The nearest commercial airports are at Poitiers (Poitiers - Biard Airport), La Rochelle (La Rochelle - Île de Ré Airport) and Nantes (Nantes Atlantique Airport).
Famous births in the département:
- Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon (1635–1719), second wife of Louis XIV
- Jacques de Liniers (Santiago de Liniers y Remond) (1753–1810)
- Louis-Marcelin, marquis de Fontanes (1757–1821), poet and politician
- Henri-Georges Clouzot (1904–1977), film director
- Laurent Cantet (1961), Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes 2008, for the movie Entre les murs
- Catherine Breillat (1948), film maker and novelist
- Jean-Hugues Anglade (1955), actor
- René Caillié (1799–1838) explorer, and the first European to return alive from the town of Timbuktu
Famous people related to the département:
- Jean-Baptiste Baujault, French sculptor
- Ségolène Royal (1953), former candidate for the 2007 French presidential election, former representative of the department at the National Assembly and current President of the Poitou-Charentes region
- Anjou wine
- Arrondissements of the Deux-Sèvres department
- Cantons of the Deux-Sèvres department
- Communes of the Deux-Sèvres department
- Carte de Promenade - 33 - Cholet Niort. Institut Géographique National.
- "TGV". SNCF. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- "Ter-sncf.com - Poitou Charentes - Carte et Horaires". SNCF. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
- "Plan-RDS" (PDF). Conseil général des Deux-Sèvres. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
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