photo: Dan Lundberg

Geography and economy of the Indre

The Indre is in the south of the Centre region, and extends over the low plateaux which form the heart of the Berry – Champagne, Berrichonne, Boischaut North, Boischaut South and the Brenne.

The major rivers are the Indre and the Creuse, but the Claise, Fouzon and Theols also run through the department. It has an area of 6824 sq kilometres and 238,000 inhabitants.

The ancient town of Châteauroux is the administrative capital, and the three principal areas within the Indre cover Le Blanc, La Chatre and Issoudon.

Huge forests cover the centre of the departement – Lancosme, Châteauroux and de Bommiers. Oak is grown in abundance – the Indre oaks are slow growing and produce many shoots, resulting in a decorative “burr” which can be used in furniture.

Although the Champagne Berrichonne has huge cereal growing fields, the Boischaut, which is made up of bocage or wooded areas, has dozens of small farms. Beef cattle, generally the Limousine or Charollais breed, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks are all bred and every part utilised, such as gesiers (gizzards), which is turned into speciality dish of the area).

With thousands of lakes, fishing is important both for work and leisure, and carp, pike and zander are all available in local restaurants and shops along with speciality breads, cheeses, honey, chestnuts, lentils and all varieties of vegetables and fruit.

Although not one of the main industries, there are some wine-growing areas – Reuilly, to the East, Valencay to the West, with Sancerre just across the border in the Cher/Berry region.

Chaillac, a small village to the south of the Indre, has mines which have been producing barium and fluorine since the 1970s. It is a small enterprise but one of the largest European suppliers of these minerals to the pharmaceutical industry.

The multi-national company Michelin employs some 8,000 people in the whole of the Centre region, with some of them working in the Indre, mainly on industrial rubber products.

A factory in Pouligny-Notre-Dame has opened with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes, specialising in animal nutrition.

The aircraft industry has recently expanded, with Chateauroux airport taking on more staff after signing an agreement for dismantling with Boeing, as well as being a major overflow cargo airport for Paris. It has a capacity for 600 passengers, although there are not many holiday flights at the moment and there are no cheap flight operators to the UK.

Pioneering renewable energy sources, the Indre is promoting wind turbines in suitable parts of the region, and with the rising cost of petrol (now equivalent to UK prices) electric cars are being offered for the use of visitors to the Brenne national park.

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