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Aisne, Soissons.jpg
The Aisne river at Soissons
Drapeau fr departement Aisne.svg
Blason departement fr Aisne.svg
Coat of arms
Location of Aisne in France
Coordinates: 49°30′N3°30′E / 49.500°N 3.500°E / 49.500; 3.500 Coordinates: 49°30′N3°30′E / 49.500°N 3.500°E / 49.500; 3.500
Region Hauts-de-France
Prefecture Laon
Subprefectures Château-Thierry
   President of the general council Yves Daudigny (PS)
  Total7,369 km2 (2,845 sq mi)
  Rank 49th
  Density73/km2 (190/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 02
Arrondissements 5
Cantons 21
Communes 800
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Aisne ( /n/ AYN, [1] also US: /ɛn/ EN, [2] French:  [ɛːn] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a French department in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. It is named after the river Aisne.



The department of Aisne is surrounded by the French departments of Nord, Somme, Oise, Ardennes, and Seine-et-Marne and borders Belgium to 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 cheese.

According to the 2003 census, the forested area of the department was 123,392 hectares, or 16.6% for an average metropolitan area of 27.4%. [3]

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 ridge.

The principal cities in Aisne are:

See also: List of the communes of the Aisne department and Brie.


The 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 Marne-la-Vallée).

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 from the Gare du Nord and the third from the Gare de l'Est:

In 1873, the department of Aisne had 10 railway companies with a total length of 382 km. [4]


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)4.6
Daily mean °C (°F)2.3
Average low °C (°F)0
Average precipitation mm (inches)57.1
Source: Infoclimat: Saint Quentin – Roupy (1961–1990) [5]


Laon, France, 2019 Laon, France, 2019.jpg
Laon, France, 2019

Aisne developed from the ancient settlement of Acinum, from which its name derives.[ citation needed ] The Battle of the Axona was fought nearby in 57 BC.

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), Picardy (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 Aisne .


Arms of Aisne Blason departement fr Aisne.svg
Arms of Aisne
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 and Azure.


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 Paris or Île-de-France, 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 left-wing parties.

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 Fricoteaux.

Conservatives and Liberals (LRUDI)18
Socialists and Ecologists (PSEELV)10
Front National 8
French Communist Party 6

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%. [6]

Representatives in the National Assembly

ConstituencyMember [7] Party
Aisne's 1st constituency Aude Bono-Vandorme La République En Marche!
Aisne's 2nd constituency Julien Dive The Republicans
Aisne's 3rd constituency Jean-Louis Bricout Socialist Party
Aisne's 4th constituency Marc Delatte La République En Marche!
Aisne's 5th constituency Jacques Krabal La République En Marche!


Aisne is divided into five arrondissements and 21 cantons. The department has 804 communes and five parliamentary constituencies.


The main cities of the department Aisne Villes.png
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 Aisne has 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, Chaunois, Thiérache).

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 growth.

Population development since 1791:

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
source: [8]


Laon Cathedral Laon, Cathedrale Notre-Dame PM 14294.jpg
Laon Cathedral
The keep of the castle of Septmonts P1040031WK Donjon Septmonts.JPG
The keep of the castle of Septmonts
Saint-Quentin townhall Stadhuis Saint Quentin.JPG
Saint-Quentin townhall
Fortified church of Parfondeval Parfondeval - eglise fortifiee.jpg
Fortified church of Parfondeval
Ruins of the Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes in Soissons Soissons-saint-jean-des-vignes.jpg
Ruins of the Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes in Soissons

The boat tours relates in part to the 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 and the Château de Coucy.

Among the many places to explore are:

Churches and abbeys
War memorials of the First World War


During 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 of 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). [9]

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.


This linguistic variance probably explains the difficulty for residents south of Aisne to identify themselves as belonging to the Picardy region.


Notable people linked to the department

Second homes

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. [11]

TownMunicipal PopulationNumber of LodgingsSecondary Lodgings%age Secondary Lodgings
Chamouille 25662852683.81%
Neuville-sur-Ailette 8614711074.86%
Berny-Rivière 59665339660.69%
Ressons-le-Long 7623939022.90%

See also

Related Research Articles

Communes of the Aisne department Wikimedia list article

The following is a list of the 800 communes of the Aisne department of France.

Château-Thierry Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Château-Thierry is a French commune situated in the department of the Aisne, in the administrative region of Hauts-de-France and in the historic Province of Champagne.

Abbécourt Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Abbécourt is a French commune in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Montreuil may refer to:

In France, the Chemin des Dames is part of the D18 and runs east and west in the Aisne department, between in the west, the Route Nationale 2, and in the east, the D1044 at Corbeny. It is some thirty kilometres long and runs along a ridge between the valleys of the rivers Aisne and Ailette. It acquired the name in the 18th century, as it was the route taken by the two daughters of Louis XV, Adélaïde and Victoire, who were known as Ladies of France. At the time, it was scarcely a carriage road, but it was the most direct route between Paris and the Château de Boves, near Vauclair, on the far side of the Ailette. The château belonged to Françoise de Châlus, former mistress of Louis XV, Countess of Narbonne-Lara and former lady of honour to Adélaïde, whom the two ladies visited frequently. To make the way easier, the count had the road surfaced, and it gained its new name. The ridge's strategic importance first became evident in 1814 when Napoleon's young recruits beat an army of Prussians and Russians at the Battle of Craonne.

Chauny Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Chauny is a commune in the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

Arrondissements of the Aisne department Wikimedia list article

The 5 arrondissements of the Aisne department are:

  1. Arrondissement of Château-Thierry, with 108 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 71,417 in 2016.
  2. Arrondissement of Laon, with 240 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 157,371 in 2016.
  3. Arrondissement of Saint-Quentin, with 126 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 129,028 in 2016.
  4. Arrondissement of Soissons, with 166 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 107,744 in 2016.
  5. Arrondissement of Vervins, with 160 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 72,157 in 2016.
Arrondissement of Château-Thierry Arrondissement in Hauts-de-France, France

The arrondissement of Château-Thierry is an arrondissement of France in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region. It has 108 communes. Its population is 69,836 (2016), and its area is 1,115.2 km2 (430.6 sq mi).

Arrondissement of Laon Arrondissement in Hauts-de-France, France

The arrondissement of Laon is an arrondissement of France in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region. It has 240 communes. Its population is 157,371 (2016), and its area is 2,175.3 km2 (839.9 sq mi).

Arrondissement of Soissons Arrondissement in Hauts-de-France, France

The arrondissement of Soissons is an arrondissement of France in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region. It has 166 communes. Its population is 107,744 (2016), and its area is 1,342.3 km2 (518.3 sq mi).

The following is a list of the 21 cantons of the Aisne department, in France, following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:

A26 autoroute Road in France

The A26 is a 357.6 km (222.2 mi) long French motorway connecting Calais and Troyes. It is also known as the Autoroute des Anglais as its length forms the first part of the main route from the Dover-Calais ferries and the Channel Tunnel towards Southern and Eastern France and the Cote d'Azur. The motorway is used by a high proportion of British cars, particularly during the summer holiday season. The A26 between Calais and Arras is part of one of the two main routes between London and Paris, the other being the A16.

Charly-sur-Marne Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Charly-sur-Marne is a commune in the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Soissons diocese of the Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Soissons, Laon, and Saint-Quentin is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The diocese is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Reims and corresponds, with the exception of two hamlets, to the entire Department of Aisne. The current bishop is Renauld Marie François Dupont de Dinechin, appointed on 30 October 2015. In the Diocese of Soissons there is one priest for every 4,648 Catholics.

The War Memorials of Aisne or Monuments aux Morts of Aisne are French war memorials in the Aisne, in the region of Picardy, commemorating those men of the Aisne region who died in World War I


  1. "Aisne". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt . Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  2. "Aisne". Collins English Dictionary . HarperCollins . Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  3. "National Forestry Inventory: Départment of Aisne" (PDF). (in French).
  4. Geography of the department of Aisne (2nd edition), by Adolphe Joanne, 1874, p. 36
  5. Monthly Climate Archives – Saint Quentin – Roupy (1961–1990), consulted on 17 May 2013.
  6. "Résultats Aisne – Présidentielle 2017 – 1er et 2nd tour". Le Monde.
  8. Site sur la Population et les Limites Administratives de la France
  9. Castle of Vadancourt Archived 9 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11., INSEE, as at 1 January 2008.