Aisne (French pronunciation: [ɛːn]) is a French department
Hauts-de-France region of northern France. It is named after
the river Aisne.
10.3 Notable people linked to the department
10.4 Second homes
11 See also
13 External links
The department of
Aisne is surrounded by the French departments of
Nord, Somme, Oise, Ardennes, and
Seine-et-Marne and borders
the northeast. The
Aisne River crosses the area from east to west,
where it joins the
Oise River. The
Marne forms part of the southern
boundary of the department with the department of Seine-et-Marne. The
southern part of the department is the geographical region known as la
Brie poilleuse, a drier plateau known for its dairy products and Brie
According to the 2003 census, the forested area of the department was
123,392 hectares, or 16.6% for an average metropolitan area of
The landscape is dominated by masses of rock which often have steep
flanks. These rocks appear all over the region, but the most
impressive examples are at
Laon and the
Chemin des Dames
Chemin des Dames ridge.
The principal cities in
Aisne are :
Laon, pop. 26,000 (capital)
Saint-Quentin, pop. 60,000
Soissons, pop. 30,000
Château-Thierry, pop. 15,000
Tergnier, pop. 15,000
See also: List of the communes of the
Aisne department and Brie.
Scheldt (which takes its source near Le Catelet), the Aisne, the
Marne, the Ourcq, the Vesle, the Somme (which rises in Fonsommes), the
Oise, and the Serre. In the south of the department, there is the
Surmelin, the Verdonnelle, and the Dhuys (this river is channeled into
the Dhuis Aqueduct, 131 km long, to supply drinking water to
Paris since 1 October 1865 and also more recently the Leisure Park of
The department is also crossed by numerous canals (e.g. the Canal of
Saint-Quentin, 93 km).
The county is crossed by three railway lines from Paris: the first two
Gare du Nord
Gare du Nord and the third from the Gare de l'Est:
the line from
Paris to Maubeuge, serving cities including Chauny,
Tergnier and Saint-Quentin
the line from
Paris to Laon, serving cities including Soissons,
the line from
Paris to Strasbourg, serving the city of
In 1873, the department of
Aisne had 10 railway companies with a total
length of 382 km.
There is an average of 500 to 750 mm precipitation annually.
Weather Data for Saint Quentin - Roupy
Climate data for Saint Quentin - Roupy from 1961 to 1990
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Source: Infoclimat: Saint Quentin - Roupy (1961-1990)
Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French
Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former
provinces of Île-de-
France (Laon, Soissons, Noyon,and Valois),
Thiérache Vermandois), and Champagne (Brie,and Omois).
Most of the old growth forests in the area were destroyed during
battles in World War I. The French offensive against the Chemin des
Dames in spring 1917 is sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of
The Arms of
Aisne combines the arms of the former Comté de Ponthieu
at the top with those of the former Province of Champagne below. The
wavy middle bar represents the river Aisne. This shield is a proposal
by Robert Louis, and has as yet no official value.
The arms of
Aisne are blazoned :
Party per fess wavy argent, one of Or three bendlets of azure; two of
azure with band argent between two cotices potent counter potent of Or
Agriculture dominates the economy, especially cereal crops. Beet sugar
is one of the most important industrial crops of the area. Silk,
cotton, and wool weaving flourish in Saint-Quentin and other towns.
Saint-Gobain is known for its production of mirrors, which started in
the 17th century.
Guise is the agricultural centre of the northern
area of Aisne.
The department is a mixture of rural areas and working-class towns. As
a place of residence for some families working in
Aisne was for many years a department rather oriented
to the left, with a majority on the General Council on the left since
1998, and the same for the majority of parliamentary seats
representing the department in the National Assembly.
The smaller cities of the northern department such as Guise, Hirson,
Vervins and the railway city of
Tergnier are sources of support for
Four political groups are represented in the General Council, all of
them (except the Front National) are composed of multiple political
parties. The President of the General Council is the Liberal Nicolas
Conservatives and Liberals (LR - UDI)
Socialists and Ecologists (PS - EELV)
French Communist Party
In the second round of the French presidential elections of 2017 Aisne
was one of only two departments (along nearby Pas-de-Calais) in which
the candidate of the Front National, Marine Le Pen, received a
majority of the votes cast: 52.91%.
Aisne is divided into five arrondissements and 21 cantons. The
department has 804 communes and five parliamentary constituencies.
The main cities of the department
The department of
Aisne includes one medium-sized city (Saint-Quentin)
and three small cities (Laon,
Soissons and Château-Thierry) to which
may be added the conglomeration formed by
Chauny and Tergnier. There
are many other agglomerations of an urban character because
been densely populated since before the 19th century. The villages are
numerous and rather small.
Aisne lost some of its population in the second half of the 19th
century, due to the rural exodus but this was limited by the
industrial development in the north of the department (Saint-Quentin,
Greatly affected by the First World War, the department has seen its
population grow slightly to the same level as in 1900. For thirty
years, the industrial decline has caused stagnation of the population
(526,346 in 1968, 535,489 in 1999). Only the south-west of the
department, close to the
Paris conurbation, has seen much population
The keep of the castle of Septmonts
Fortified church of Parfondeval
Ruins of the
Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes
Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes in Soissons
The boat tours relates in part to the
Canal de Saint-Quentin
Canal de Saint-Quentin with its
electric towage and two tunnels (Lesdins and Riqueval/Vendhuile).
In 2007, a large infrastructure for tourist accommodation, the Center
Parcs, was built on the Lake of Ailette, close to many tourist
attractions such as the Cathedral of Laon, the
Chemin des Dames
Chemin des Dames and
the Château de Coucy.
Among the many places to explore are:
Villers-Cotterets at Château-Thierry
Château de Condé
Château de Coucy
Dungeon of Septmonts
Château of Guise
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Laon
Churches and abbeys
Abbaye du Tortoir de Saint Nicolas aux Bois
Abbaye Saint-Vincent de Laon
Abbaye Saint-Martin de Laon
Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes
Church of Saint-Caprais
Abbey church of Saint-Yved de Braine
War memorials of the First World War
Chemin des Dames
The Caverne of the Dragon
The Landowski Ghosts, Margival
Bois de Belleau/Bois de la Brigade de Marine
Henri Matisse à Bohain-en-Vermandois
Quentin de Latour Museum in Saint-Quentin
Musée du cheminot, the Familistère de Godin at Guise.
World War I
World War I a number of significant architectural monuments
were destroyed. Of the buildings that survived, the medieval churches
in Laon, Braine, and
Urcel are the most significant. The ruined castle
La Ferté-Milon escaped further damage during the war. Of the
castles that survived, some were used as prisons, such as the Castle
of Vadancourt, near Saint-Quentin (500 prisoners).
It is thought that the
Aisne River was the birthplace of the trench
warfare seen in the First World War. The British Expeditionary Force
(BEF) had initial early successes driving the Germans back to the
Aisne River; the German troops dug in and managed to hold out against
both British and French attacks. This German entrenchment was to mould
the entire face of World War One as both sides began digging in and
fortifying their positions. Thus began the stalemate that became a
significant feature of the First World War.
Picard in the north
Champenois dialect in the south
the French of Île-de-
France in the centre and the south.
This linguistic variance probably explains the difficulty for
residents south of
Aisne to identify themselves as belonging to the
Rustic cuisine. The north of the department is a farming area and
there are products made from cow's milk such as
Maroilles cheese and
Dulce de leche. There are also typically
Picardy specialties such as
"ficelle", a sort of rolled crêpe with cream cheese, béchamel, ham,
Foie gras is a product developed in
Thiérache of the
The cultivation of red fruit (strawberries) is beginning to develop.
Trade shows for: cheeses (La Capelle), blood sausage (Saint-Quentin).
Tastings in flea markets and many opportunities to discover local
products in a traditional atmosphere.
In the south there are kidney beans form
Soissons and the Tourist
route of Champagne where some champagnes produced in the
Chateau-Thierry region, like the maroilles, are recognized by the
Appellation d'origine contrôlée
Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC).
Thiérache cider and its eau-de-vie and the production of beer (mostly
craft) give the department of
Aisne real identity.
Large swarms of bees mean that the flavours of honey, mead,
gingerbread, vinegar etc. can be found.
Notable people linked to the department
Achille Jacopin is a sculptor born in 1874 and died in 1958 at
Camille Claudel came from Tardenois
Jean de la Fontaine
Jean de la Fontaine was from Château-Thierry
Paul Doumer, French president from 1931 to 1932, founder of the
journal La tribune de l'
Aisne and long time deputy for the departement
Alexandre Dumas was from Villers-Cotterets
The fictional character
Jean Valjean was born in Faverolles, Aisne
Jean Racine was from La Ferte-Milon
Maurice Quentin de la Tour
Maurice Quentin de la Tour was born in Saint-Quentin
François-Noël Babeuf, called
Gracchus Babeuf (1760-1797) was from
Guillaume-Benoît Houdet, lawyer, MP, and Mayor of Château-Thierry
Henri Matisse, painter, spent his childhood in Bohain-en-Vermandois
Sébastien Cauet, host-producer of television and radio French, is
Jean-Baptiste André Godin
Jean-Baptiste André Godin (1817-1888), an industrialist and French
philanthropist, creator of Familistère de Guise
Nicolas de Condorcet
Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794), a philosopher, mathematician and
political scientist was from Ribemont
Leo Lemoine, mayor of
Saulchery member of the Resistance in February
1941 and died for
France in exile at
Buchenwald Dora with his son
Jacques (17 years old)
Kamini, a rapper, is from Le Nouvion-en-Thiérache
In 2008, the department had 4.1% of second homes. This table shows the
main communes of
Aisne that have second homes which occasionally
exceed 10% of total housing.
Number of Lodgings
%age Secondary Lodgings
0 0 0256
0 0 0628
0 0 0526
0 0 0 086
0 0 0147
0 0 0110
0 0 0596
0 0 0653
0 0 0396
0 0 0762
0 0 0393
0 0 0 090
Cantons of the
Communes of the
Arrondissements of the
^ "National Forestry Inventory: Départment of Aisne" (PDF).
www.ifn.fr (in French).
^ Geography of the department of
Aisne (2nd edition), by Adolphe
Joanne, 1874, p. 36
^ Monthly Climate Archives - Saint Quentin - Roupy (1961-1990),
consulted on 17 May 2013.
Aisne - Présidentielle 2017 - 1er et 2nd tour". Le
^ Castle of Vadancourt Archived 9 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 June 2013.
Retrieved 17 May 2013.
^ http://www.insee.fr/fr/recensement/page_accueil_rp.htm, INSEE, as at
1 January 2008.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aisne.
(in French) Prefecture website
(in French) General Council website
(in English) Set up your business in Aisne
(in French) Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Aisne
(in French) Chamber of Trades of Aisne
Aisne Chamber of Agriculture
Aisne Development Agency
(in English) Official Tourist Board
(in French) Maps of Aisne
Dmoz (in French)
Département de l’
Aisne The Accounts of the Communes in fiscal
groupings—Individual data for budget, consolidated data for the
"Principle Budget and budget annexes"
Departments of France
90 Territoire de Belfort
973 French Guiana
Metropolis with territorial collectivity statute