Arpent

What is an arpent?

An arpent is an area equal to about 0.845 acres, traditionally used in the state of Louisiana, in France and in Quebec in Canada. Now, hectares and acres are more commonly used measurements of area.

Deeper definition

The arpent (pronounced with a silent “T”) is an old measurement and is no longer in use anywhere in the world outside of France and some former French colonies. It’s primarily for conversion purposes when referencing old property divisions and documentation.

An arpent is roughly equivalent to 190 feet in length. The square arpent is also referred to as an arpent, as we would consider a measurement similar to the acre or hectare.

An arpent is equivalent to 0.845 acres or 0.4 hectares. Conversions are helpful for modern surveyors to understand how to interpret land boundaries and divisions in places like some Louisiana parishes. Proper modern land measurements are critical for municipalities establishing property values and levying proper taxes from landowners.

Arpent example

In Louisiana, understanding the arpent is important for survey studies. French settlers designated some land parcels as arpent sections, along navigable streams and waterways in southern Louisiana and elsewhere.

These arpent sections were often two to four arpents long against the riverfront and extended to 40 or 60 arpents wide, creating long, narrow land blocks.

Arpent sections were designed to give landowners riverfront property along one of the narrow ends of the property. The length gave the property owners space for cultivation and building homes.

You can imagine the arpent sections along waterfronts as a row of narrow rectangular blocks, as opposed to the more typical square land plots of today. Not only did these sections provide a uniform land division, but also they gave each landowner equal access to different desirable natural features.

Instead of having some homes along the riverfront with no access to farmland and others with ample land and no river access, generally all land sections had the same physical features.

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