capital of Cantal departement, Auvergne region, south-central France. It lies along the Jourdanne River at an elevation of 2,040 feet (622 m) above sea level, southwest of Clermont-Ferrand. Gerbert, the first French pope (known as Sylvester II), was born in the town and was educated at the nearby Saint-Geraud abbey (founded 894). In the Religious Wars of the 16th century, a general massacre of Huguenots was answered by a Huguenot sack and burning of Aurillac and the slaughter of Roman Catholics. The modern city encircles the old town of narrow, twisting streets. The Gothic church of Notre-Dame-aux-Neiges (1339) stands in the main square. The castle, now used as a school, has an 11th-century dungeon. The commercial and tourist centre of Haute-Auvergne, Aurillac is largely a cattle and dairy market specializing in two cheeses, Fourme and Bleu d'Auvergne. Light industry, especially food processing and the manufacture of furniture, umbrellas, and pharmaceuticals, has fostered the recent growth of the city. Pop. (1982) 29,704.
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