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Hérault (French: [eʁo]; Occitan: Erau [eˈɾaw]) is a department in southern France named after the Hérault. It is part of the Occitanie region of the country.

Hérault
Department
Prefecture building of the Hérault department, in Montpellier
Prefecture building of the Hérault department, in Montpellier
Flag of Hérault
Flag
Coat of arms of Hérault
Coat of arms
Location of Hérault in France
Location of Hérault in France
Coordinates: 43°21′N 3°13′E / 43.350°N 3.217°E / 43.350; 3.217Coordinates: 43°21′N 3°13′E / 43.350°N 3.217°E / 43.350; 3.217
Country France
Region Occitanie
Prefecture Montpellier
Subprefectures Béziers
Lodève
Government
 • President of the General Council Kléber Mesquida (PS)
Area1
 • Total 6,224 km2 (2,403 sq mi)
Population (2014)
 • Total 1,107,398
 • Density 180/km2 (460/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Héraultais
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 34
Arrondissements 3
Constituency 7
Cantons 25
Intercommunality 16
Communes 343
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Contents

HistoryEdit

Hérault is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Languedoc.

At the beginning of the 20th century, viticulture in the wine-growing region was devastated by a slump in sales combined with disease affecting the vines.[citation needed] Thousands of small scale producers revolted.[citation needed] This revolt was suppressed very harshly by the government of Georges Clemenceau.[citation needed]

The catastrophic frost of the winter of 1956 damaged the olive trees, and the olive-growing regions did not recover until the late 1980s. Many of the olive-industry co-ops closed.[citation needed]

During the second half of the twentieth century the Montpellier basin saw some of the most rapid population growth in France.[citation needed]

GeographyEdit

Hérault is part of the region of Occitanie and is surrounded by the departments of Aude, Tarn, Aveyron, Gard, and the Mediterranean (Gulf of Lion) on the south. The department is geographically very diverse, with beaches in the south, the Cévennes mountains in the north, and agricultural land in between. To define the Hérault, one often tends to compare its territory to an open amphitheater facing the sea. The geography of the Hérault is marked by the diversity of its geology and its landscapes. These range from the southern foothills of the Massif Central, to the Mediterranean Sea, through the areas of garrigue and the low plain of Languedoc wine. The Hérault is bathed by a Mediterranean climate.

The minimum altitude is at sea level and the highest point of the department is at an altitude of 1181m in one of the peaks of Espinouse. The average altitude is about 227m.

 
View of the Orb River in Roquebrun

The department of Hérault is crossed by several coastal rivers that originated in the southern foothills of the Massif Central to jump into the Mediterranean Sea after a course of general north-south orientation relatively short and high altitude. the main ones are from east to west the Vidourle, which marks the limit with the Gard department, the Lesz which crosses notably Montpellier, the Hérault, which gave its name to the department, and the Orb which waters Béziers.To the west, the Aude Valley, a 224 km river from the Pyrenees, whose course is oriented west-east, forms the limit with the department of the same name. These rivers as well as their tributaries are characterized by their regime, called "cévénol", marked by sudden variations of flow causing sudden and important floods. All along the coast of Herault successive lagoon, some of which have a large area, the largest of which is the Étang de Thau with an area of about 7,500 hectares.

The hinterland of the lowlands of Bas-Languedoc is gradually hilly. It is the territory of the vineyard, olive groves, orchards and scrubland. Olive growing and viticulture symbolize an important part of the Mediterranean heritage and lifestyle.

The area of Hérault near the town of Lodève is the geographical antipode point of Chatham Island off the east coast of New Zealand.[citation needed]

The most populated municipality is Montpellier with 277,639 inhabitants in 2015. The least populated municipality is Romiguières with 27 inhabitants in 2015.

ClimateEdit

The vast majority of the department can be characterized by a Mediterranean climate. However, the mountainous areas of the northwest have an oceanic influence. Some sectors of northern Herault can for their part know a temperate continental influence.

The average temperature of the summer months is close to the maximum French average. Nevertheless, the sea protects the coastal areas from the extremes of heat waves in summer, but also frosts in winter. They range from about 27 degrees Celsius on the seashore to 32 degrees Celsius inland. Mean minimum temperatures are also very varied, ranging from about 19 degrees Celsius on the coast to 15 degrees Celsius in the interior.

CultureEdit

LanguageEdit

The historical language is Occitan language.

Totem animals and local festivalsEdit

 
Foal of Pézenas
 
Montpellier's FISE in 2013

International Festival of Extreme Sports (FISE)

  • Sète festivals : Sète's Jazz Festival, Documentary Photo Festival "Imagesingulieres", Poetry Festival "Vivid Voice of the Mediterranean in the Mediterranean"

HeritageEdit

The Canal du Midi has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

EconomyEdit

AgricultureEdit

The agricultural area used in the department is 185,048 hectares, or nearly 30% of the department. Viticulture is important with 85,525 hectares, other arable land is used for orchards (olives, chestnuts, walnuts, plums, apples) with 3,400 hectares, artificial grasslands with 7,090 hectares, vegetable cultivation with 3,788 hectares , the cultivation of cereals with 20,095 hectares, fallows with 4,991 hectares.

ViticultureEdit

 
Vineyard in Adissan

The vineyard is very old and dates from before the founding of Gallia Narbonensis. The Hérault is today the second French wine department behind the Gironde, representing 14% of the total area of the department. The department has both a favorable climate, excellent exposure, a wide variety of soils and a wide range of grape varieties: all the assets are there to produce generous wines, sometimes robust, with a wide aromatic palette

AquacultureEdit

In the Hérault, shellfish farming represents 8,300 tons of oysters (10% of the national production) and 5,900 tons of mussels a year. The Étang de Thau is a Mecca for growing mussels and oysters in the Mediterranean. Bouzigues oyster farming is practiced on suspended breeding tables and generally in permanent immersion.

PoliticsEdit

Composition of the departmental councilEdit

The President of the General Council is Kléber Mesquida of the Socialist Party.

Party Representative
Majority (36 representatives)
FG 2
PS 16
DVG 15
Opposition (14 representatives)
DVD 2
LR 4
UDI 2
FN 6
President of the General Council
Kléber Mesquida (PS)

List of successive presidentsEdit

 
Departmental council's building of Hérault department
Election Member Party
1961 Jean Bène SFIO
1964
1967
1970
1973 PS
1976
1979 Gérard Saumade PS
1982
1985
1988
1992
1994
1998 André Vézinhet PS
2001
2004
2008
2011
2015 Kléber Mesquida PS

DemographicsEdit

The inhabitants of the department are called Héraultais.

SportEdit

TourismEdit

The touristic placesEdit

Part of Cap d'Agde is a major nudist resort.

Cruising along the Canal du Midi and walking or cycling along the tow paths is a popular holiday option.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit