France Roads Railways Navigable Rivers And Canals Harbours
length francs kilometres miles paris chemins metres bridge
FRANCE ROADS RAILWAYS NAVIGABLE RIVERS AND CANALS HARBOURS Before referring to the state of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce in France, it is important to have an idea of the means of communication by which the different productive districts are connected with one another. The minister of public works has the superintendence of all roads and ways, natural or artificial, by land or by water. A special department, called Administration des Ponts et Chaussees, assisted by a council with the minister as its president, is charged with the management of that important branch of public business ; 569 engineers and inspectors, and 2153 inferior officials form the administrative staff.
Roads are either national, departmental, military, or r viciwd (cross roads). National roads are kept up entirely at the expense of the public treasury. The departments have to provide for departmental roads and a portion of the military roads, the rest being charged on the state. As to cross roads, or Chemins vicinaux, they depend, by an awkward anomaly, on the ministry of the interior, and are kept up by the communes, or, when of a higher importance, by the departments. At the end of 1811 229 roads were classified as imperial roads. They extended over a length of 46,500 kilometres (28,894 miles). In 1815, after the territory of France had been brought back to its ancient limits, the length was only 27,200 kilometres (16,901 miles) ; in 1873 there were 223 national roads, giving a total of 37,304 kilometres (23,180 miles), 2627 kilometres (1632 miles) of which are still paved like a street. The average breadth of that class of road is 16 metres (52 feet 6 inches), 6 metres for the causeway, 6 for the sideways, and 4 for the ditches and embankment. Although the great extension of railways has somewhat reduced the importance of high roads, it has been calculated that the traffic_ has changed very little during the last twenty years. The departmental roads are not quite so wide as the national ones, their average breadth being 12 metres (39 feet). In 1872 their length was 46,939 kilometres (29,167 miles). Military roads were made in the west of France, after the last insurrection of Vendee. They are 28 in number, distributed in the departments of Charente-Inferieure, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Inferieure, Maineet-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe, Deux-Sevres, and Vendee, and extend to a length of about 1500 kilometres (932 miles).
A sum of nearly 34 millions of francs is spent yearly for the purpose of making new roads or repairing old ones. The Chemins vieinaux, or cross roads establishing a communi cation between rural places not far distant from each other, are managed by a special branch of the department of the minister of the interior; about 3000 agents-voyers and 42,000 cantonniers or workmen are specially charged with the duty of keeping them in repair. In 1872 these roads, divided into three classes according to their importance, were 544,390 kilometres (338,273 miles) in length, and covered a surface of about 370,000 hectares (915,000 acres). To the very considerable resources which the communes must apply to the extension and repair of their rural roads the Government used to add a yearly grant of 11,500,000 francs ; but this sum has been reduced to 5,750,000 francs since 1873. The Anna/es of the administration of the Ponts et Chaussees mention 1982 large bridges, of which 79 are cast. iron. The chief are the bridge over the Gironde at Bordeaux, which has 17 arches, is 501 metres (1643 feet) in length, and cost 6,850,000 francs ; the bridge of Cubzac, over the river Dordogne ; the turning bridge of Penfeld at Brest ; the bridge St Esprit, over the Rhone, with 18 arches on a length of 730 metres (2395 feet); those of Toulouse, Libourne, Tours, and Rouen ; the new bridge (Pont-Yezy) and the bridge of Una at Paris ; and the bridge of La Guillotiere at Lyons.
Although the system of railways in France is far from being so complete as in England and Belgium, the country is now traversed by great lines which connect together all the principal towns ; and lines of less importance have been made, or will ere long be established, in every district. The chief lines, which are worked by powerful companies under the superintendence of the state, are - (1) the Chemins de for du Nord, which run between Paris and -Soissons, Boulogne, Calais, Rouen, Amiens, &c., traverse the coal districts of Picardy, and reach the Belgian territory at Quievrain and at Tournay ; (2) the Chemins de for de l'Est, from Paris to Strasburg, Mulhouse, and Basel in Switzerland, through Alsace, with branch lines to Sedan, Metz, Luxembourg, Rheims, Sarregnemines, &c., joining Belgian and Prussian railways at several points of the frontier ; (3) the Chemins de fer de l'Ouest, which traverse Normandy in every direction, and connect Paris with the towns of Brittany ; (4) the Chemins de far d'Orleans, which go to Nantes, Bordeaux, Limoges, Bourges, and Toulouse; (5) the Chemins de for de Paris a Lyon et a in Mediterranee, which connect the valley of the Seine with that of the Rhone, and have branch lines to St Etienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Toulon, Cette, &c., establishing regular and direct communication between France and Switzerland, - the railways of Savoy being also worked by the same company. Paris is the starting point and the administrative centre of all these lines. Another great lino worked by the Compagnie du Midi, starts from Bordeaux, which it connects with Cette and Bayonne, with branches between Bayonne, Toulouse, and Foix, Agen and Tarbes, Toulouse and Auch, Montpellier and Mahan, &c. Through this line Spain is brought into communication with France.
The other lines worthy of mention are - the railways of the Charentes, connecting La Roche-sur-Yon, La Rochelle, Rochefort, Contras, Angouleme, Salutes, Limoges, and St Jean d'Angoly ; the line from Chauny to St Gobain ; the railway of the docks of St Ouen, Paris ; the line from Dunkirk to Fumay (Belgian frontier) ; those from Epinay to Velars, from Bethune to Lille, from Somain to Anzin and the Belgian territory, from Vitra to Fougeres, and from Perpignan to Prades ; the Medoe railway ; the Vendee railways ; and the Chemin de fer de ceinture, which encircles Paris.
The capital required for the making of these railways has been calculated at not less than 10,000,000,000 francs - which gives, for a total length of 21,987 kilometres (13,662 miles), an average of 297,000 francs per kilometre, or £19,118 per English mile. The state has granted and still grants large sums to the companies ; but in return they are subject to a tax in proportion to their traffic, as well as to other dues, which are a considerable source of revenue to the public treasury, the profit realized by it having been 55,942,330 francs in 1873. The yearly returns of the companies show an average income of 840 millions of francs.
All navigable rivers are state property. A table is subjoined of the navigable rivers arranged by basins, with the length of their navigable course, and also of the canals and the small rivers which have been converted into canals. Owing to the cheap rate of transport by water, canal traffic has been but little injured by the extension of railways, this inexpensive way of conveyance being used for heavy goods whenever practicable. In 1875, 1,721,070,943 kilometric tons (about 1,748,500,000 tons avoirdupois) were carried by river and canal navigation, besides 176 551,434 cubic metres (230,933,000 cubic yards) of wood or Bois flottg. The duties levied on these goods amounted to more than 4,177,940 francs.
France is but very inadequately provided with harbours ; her long tract of coast washed by the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay has scarcely three or four good seaports, and those on the southern shore of the channel form a striking contrast to the spacious maritime inlets on the English side. To begin from the north-east, Dunkirk has a small harbour, enlarged, however, by docks, and approached in the Dutch manner by a canal leading from the sea. Calais, one of the best ports on the coast, is not to be compared with Dover. Boulogne has a roadstead, which has been of late greatly deepened and improved. The port of Dieppe is exposed, and of course unsuitable for winter. The best mercantile harbour in the north of France, Le Havre-de-Grace, at the mouth of the Seine, has large basins and docks, formed at a very great expense. Cherbourg is now a port and arsenal of great utility and importance to the navy ; its roadstead, extensive but open, has a sea-wall, affording protection from the swell of the sea ; and its spacious dock, excavated since the beginning of this century, at an expense of £3,000,000 sterling, is capable of containing fifty sail of the line. St Maio, on the north coast of Brittany, possesses a good and large harbour, with quays extending to a length of 2,955 metres (3231 yards); its entrance is protected by fortified islets. Brittany also possesses Brest, the great maritime port of the Atlantic for the navy, and, in the south-west, Lorient. Proceeding further to the south, we find Nantes, with its two ports at the mouth of tho Loire, Paimbceuf and St Nazaire ; Les Sables d'Olonne, now connected with Liverpool by a regular service of steamers ; Rochefort, on the Charente, one of the great dockyards and naval stations; La Rochelle, a small but secure harbour ; and Bordeaux, where the Gironde is nearly equal in width to the Thames at London. From this there is no seaport worthy of mention until we reach Bayonne, a place of difficult access. On the Mediterranean, France has the ports of Cette, Marseilles (the most spacious and secure on the coast), Nice, and the great maritime port, arsenal, and dockyard of Toulon.