Lowest point on land: Rhône river Delta (2 meters/7 feet listed below sea level)

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Hemispheres : Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 950 kilometers (590 miles) from east to west; 962 kilometers (598 miles) from north to southern

Land borders : 2,889 kilometers (1,795 miles) full boundary length; Andorra 56.6 kilometers (35 miles); Belgium 620 kilometers (385 miles); Germany 451 kilometers (280 miles); Italy 488 kilometers (303 miles); Luxembourg 73 kilometers (45 miles); Monaco 4.4 kilometers (2.8 miles); Spain 623 kilometers (387 miles); Switzerland 573 kilometers (356 miles)

Coastline: 3,427 kilometers (2,130 miles)

ar sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


France is the largest country in western Europe and also the third largest in Europe. V an area the 547,030 square kilometers (211,208 square miles), it is surpassed only by Russia and also Ukraine. Approximately hexagonal in shape, the is bordered by three various bodies that water (the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean) and three hill chains (the Pyrenees come the south and also the Jura and Alps to the east and southeast, respectively). The small principality that Monaco, a self-contained enclave, lies completely within French borders, at the far southeastern reminder of the country.


France has a number of overseas departments and territories transparent the world. They space all islands other than for French Guiana, ~ above the northeast coastline of south America. The northernmost of France's island dependencies, in the Atlantic s off the coast of Newfoundland, is the archipelago of St. Pierre and also Miquelon, consisting of 2 islands and a variety of rocky islets. Furthermore south, in the Lesser Antilles, lie the tropical archipelago of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

numerous French archipelago are situated in the Indian Ocean. Mayotte, component of the Comoros archipelago the lies east of Mozambique, belongs come France (the various other Comoros islands claimed their freedom in 1975). The volcanic island the Réunion, eastern of Madagascar, administers two other French dependencies in the Mozambique Channel: the island that Europa and the atoll that Bassas da India. France also has an abroad territory farther southern in the Indian Ocean, collectively called the Southern and also Antarctic Lands. The southern Lands comprise two individual volcano islands and two archipelagos. "Antarctic Lands" refers to a ar of Antarctica called "Adelie Land." France has three dependencies in the Pacific: brand-new Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia, i m sorry is a group of 5 archipelagos halfway in between South America and Australia.


France's miscellaneous regions have actually three significant types that climate: oceanic, continental, and also Mediterranean. Temperatures generally increase from phibìc to south. The western component of the country, which borders the Atlantic Ocean, has a temperate, humid oceanic climate, characterized by fairly modest annual temperature variations, hefty precipitation, and also overcast skies, with cool summers and winters. Mean temperatures in Brest, at the guideline of Brittany, space 6°C (43°F) in January and 16°C (61°F) in July. Lot of eastern and main France has actually a continent climate, with a more comprehensive range the temperatures and greater variations in between seasons. Winters room cold and also snowy, and storms are frequent in June and July. Paris has an average yearly temperature of 11°C (53°F). The eastern part of the nation has the many severe winters.

The Mediterranean climate predominates in the south and also southeast, stretching inland from the coastline to the reduced Rhône Valley. Winters are mild and also humid, through only short periods of frost, and also summers space hot and dry. Temperatures above 32°C (90°F) room common. Yearly temperatures in Nice, top top the Côte d'Azur, average 15°C (59°F). Southern France sometimes experiences a cold northern wind referred to as the mistral.

Average yearly rainfall in France varieties from as tiny as 43 centimeters (17 inches) top top the Languedoc coastline to 130 centimeters (50 inches) in ~ high elevations in the mountains, top top the Massif Central, and in the northwest. Yearly rainfall averages 68 centimeters (27 inches) in Paris and also 100 centimeters (39 inches) in Bordeaux.


return France's topography is varied, it can be damaged down into three major types the terrain. At the facility of the country are the four Hercynian Massifs, through the Massif central at their center. The higher mountain peaks that the Pyrenees, the Jura, and also the Alps rise in the south and also east, developing natural boundaries with the neighboring countries of Spain, Switzerland, and also Italy. Between these geographical features are the low-lying plains of the Paris Basin and also the regions to the west.

The complying with ten regions have been identified based upon geographical and social factors: the Nord; the Paris Basin; the East; Burgundy and the upper Rhine; the Alps; Mediterranean France; Aquitaine and also the Pyrenees; the Massif Central; the Loire Valley and Atlantic France; and also Armorica. Secondary area that France is the big island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea.

5 OCEANS and also SEAS

The phibìc Atlantic ocean lies to the west of France, and also the Mediterranean Sea come the south. In addition, a small part of its northern coast borders the phibìc Sea.

Sea Inlets and Straits

France has shores on the English Channel come the northwest and also the bay of Biscay to the west. In the north, the Seine flow empties into the English Channel in the Baie de la Seine, and also the Saint-Malo Gulf lies between the Côtentin Peninsula and Brittany. The western component of France's Mediterranean coast borders the Golfe de Lion.

Islands and Archipelagos

France's biggest island, and the 4th largest in the Mediterranean, is Corsica. Separated by end 160 kilometers (100 miles) the sea indigenous the mainland, the island rises to over 1,676 meters (5,500 feet) and also has a seaside plain only on its east side. France also has a number of islands turn off the Atlantic coast. The largest of these are Ouessant Island, off the reminder of Brittany; Belle-Île-En-Mer, to Brittany's south; and Île de Ré and Oléron Island, both of i beg your pardon are near La Rochelle.

seaside Features

Dramatic chalk cliffs mark the northern coastline, dropping abruptly come sandy beaches that border the English Channel. There is a deep seaside indentation north of Bordeaux whereby the Garonne River and also its tributary, the Dordogne, empty right into the just of Biscay. Well sand lines the beaches follow me this coast, and also there room dunes in the southerly area recognized as the Landes.

The shoreline on the western edge that the Golfe de Lion is composed of sandbars and also lagoons. Farther east are headlands and also bays, and the marshland known as the Camargue. The eastern part of the Mediterranean coast is the Côte d'Azur, the well known resort area that lies between the hills the Provence and also the sea.


France's inland waterways encompass a variety of natural and artificial lakes. The largest natural lake, Lake Bourget, lies in ~ the western edge the the Alps, as does Lake Annecy. Over there are also lakes in the Vosges Massif and in the valleys of the Jura Mountains. Ponds and also lagoons lie follow me the Atlantic coast in the Landes region and the Mediterranean shore in Languedoc.


The drainage system of France is based upon five major rivers. In the north, the Seine—the many gentle, regular, and also navigable of French rivers—flows across the Paris container for 780 kilometers (485 miles). Prior to draining into the English Channel at Le Havre, it is join by 3 tributaries: the Yonne, the Marne, and the Oise. It has actually a number of islands, of i beg your pardon the most famed is the Île de la Cité in Paris.

The Loire, whose river container occupies the central part the France, is the longest river located entirely in France (1,020 kilometers/634 miles) and covers the biggest area (115,000 square kilometers/44,400 square miles). From the Massif main it flows northwestward to Orléans, climate westward to the Atlantic.

The Garonne is the shortest of France's significant rivers. The rises in the Pyrenees, across the border v Spain, and also empties into the bay of Biscay at Bordeaux. That tributaries incorporate the Tarn, the Aveyron, and the Dordogne.

The Rhône is the largest and also most facility of French rivers. Climbing in Switzerland, the gathers its major tributary, the Saône, in ~ Lyon and flows southward with France because that 521 kilometers (324 miles) the its total length of 813 kilometers (505 miles), emptying right into the Mediterranean. Lastly, there is the Rhine, i m sorry is considered much more a European river than specifically a French one. It flows along the eastern border for about 190 kilometers (118 miles), fed by Alpine streams. The Moselle and also the Meuse, which drain the Paris Basin, space both tributaries the the Rhine that sign up with it in neighboring countries. There also are some smaller rivers in the northeast; the ideal known of these is the Somme, i m sorry flows into the English Channel.


Scientists named the Jurassic duration (which emerged 145 come 208 million years ago) for France's Jura Mountains, since fossils discovered there date earlier to this era.


France's plains are mostly located in the Paris container to the north and also in a series of lowland areas in the west. The Paris basin is the cradle that France, occupying one-third that the nation's territory. It is centered among France's four significant massifs: the Ardennes, the Vosges, the Massif Central, and also the Armorican Massif. In ~ the facility of the container lies Paris itself. Southwest of the Paris Basin, along the valley of the Loire River, lie the levels of Anjou and, to your south, Poitou. Still farther southern are the lowlands the Aquitaine, consisting of the containers of the Garonne and the Adour Rivers and the level of Landes, which borders the bay of Biscay. The marshes of the Camargue region, ~ above the Mediterranean coast in between the 2 mouths that the Rhône River, are known for unusual fauna, consisting of the pink flamingo. Castle cover 787 square kilometers (304 square miles).

There space hills in numerous parts the France. Especially listed for your hilly terrain are the northwest region of reduced Normandy and Brittany, the Champagne region northeast of the Paris Basin, which is one of France's most well known wine-growing areas, and the southern an ar of Provence.


France has three significant mountain systems: the Pyrenees, the Alps, and the Jura Mountains.

The Pyrenees expand for over 450 kilometers (280 miles), from the Atlantic s to the Mediterranean Sea and along the southwestern coastline of France, rising above 3,048 meters (10,000 feet). The French Alps, in the southeastern component of the country, occupy 38,849 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) and also include Europe's greatest peak, Mont Blanc, and its biggest expanses of glacier and also permanent snowcaps. Prolonging as far north as Lake Geneva and as far westward as the Rhône River, they form a natural obstacle with Italy and Switzerland in the southeast. Among their assorted sections room the maritime Alps, the Provence Alps, and also the Dauphiné Alps. The limestone ridges that the Jura climb to 1,524 meters (5,000 feet), creating France's east border v Switzerland phibìc of Lake Geneva. Castle cover one area of some 12,950 square kilometers (5,000 square miles), v hills in the south and high plateaus in the north, and also extend right into Switzerland in the northeast. Their highest possible peak is mount Neige, at 1,723 meter (5,653 feet).


The plateaus that the four Hercynian Massifs form a "V" form that covers much of central France. In ~ its midpoint is the Massif Central, i m sorry covers approximately one-sixth the the country's total area and also rises to end 1,524 meter (5,000 feet). This granite plateau separates northern and southern France. The Ardennes Plateau in the northeast occupies 1,554 square kilometers (500 square miles). Open valleys lie in between its ridges, traversed by the Meuse and Sambre Rivers. South-east of the Ardennes, the Vosges Massif rises come rounded granite summits which exceed 1,219 meters (4,000 feet). The highest possible points in the Vosges, referred to as ballons, are located near the Alps; the most elevated is the Ballon de Guebwiller, in ~ 1,423 meter (4,669 feet). The Armorican Massif consist of 64,750 square kilometers (25,000 square miles), advertise out into the Atlantic Ocean and also the English Channel in 2 rocky promontories: Brittany and the Côtentin Peninsula. Its hills seldom exceed 365 meters (1,200 feet).

13 artificial FEATURES

significant reservoirs are discovered in the Massif main (Sarrans and also Bort-les-Orgues) and also in the Alps (Serre-Ponçon). Plenty of of France's cities and towns are associated by a system of canals, consisting of the Canal du Midi, which links Toulouse in the southwest v the Languedoc coast, the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, and also the Nantes-Brest Canal in Brittany. Canals additionally link the Loire and Seine Rivers.

See more: What Is The Specific Heat Capacity Of The Unknown Substance?


Cobb, Richard. Paris and Elsewhere . London: man Murray, 1998.

Edmondson, John. France. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1997.

Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence . London: Hamish Hamilton, 1989.

Michelin France: Landscape, Architecture, Tradition. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

net Sites

Ambafrance profile. http://www.ambafrance-il.org/nonflash/english/geography.htm (accessed march 21, 2003).