Travel Guide France
France is famous for its culture, history and gastronomy, but also for its beautiful countryside and many nature reserves. From majestic mountains and crystal clear lakes to picturesque coastlines and idyllic villages and towns, France offers something for every taste. Discover with us the unique destinations, spectacular natural beauty and adventurous conservation projects that make France one of the most fascinating destinations in Europe.
Our trips to France:
Volunteer Abroad: Przewalski Horses Conservation
Highlights in France
Geography of France
France is located in the west of Europe, southeast of the United Kingdom, between Belgium and the English Channel in the north, the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border in the south. France borders Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg to the east. The rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean surround the French coast to the west. The overseas territories of this intercontinental state are located in South America, the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and Antarctica.
The surface area of France and its European islands is 547,030 km². The surface area of water in France is about 1,400 km². This makes France the largest country in Western Europe in terms of surface area. The coastline of France is 3,427 km long.
The landscape of France is mainly characterised by flat plains or gentle hills in the north and west. The rest of the country is primarily mountainous. Particularly noteworthy are the Pyrenees in the southwest, the Massif Central and the Alps in the southeast. At 4,810 m, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in France. Inland there are many rivers, including the Loire, Seine and Rhône, which flow through impressive valleys. The Loire is the longest river in France, with a total length of 1,020 km. The Seine is the main shipping route, and the main tributaries are the Aube, the Marne, the Oise and the Yonne. There are few lakes in France. Near Arcachon is the Dune de Pyla, the highest dune in Europe at 115 m. The fertile plains of Normandy, the Loire Valley and Provence are important agricultural areas and provide much of the country’s food. France’s most famous cities include the capital, Paris, on the Seine River in the north, surrounded by rolling hills, and the port city of Marseille in the south, on one of the deepest bays in the Mediterranean. All in all, France has a wide variety of landscapes that offer an incomparable experience in every season and region.
Geomorphology and Geology of France
France is geologically and geomorphologically diverse. In the west, the Armorican massif dominates, with granite and schist formations and numerous rivers carving deep into the landscape. To the north and northeast, the landscape is dominated by the chalk cliffs of Normandy and the Ardennes. To the east are the foothills of the Rhine Rift Valley and the Vosges, considered the oldest mountain formation in France. The Massif Central is mainly made up of volcanic rock, including the famous Puy de Dôme. In the south and southwest, the Pyrenees extend along the border with Spain, while the Alps form the border with Italy in the east. France’s geomorphology and geology offer various landscapes and natural spaces, ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and skiing.
Travel Tips and Trivia for France
Climate in France
France’s climate ranges from Atlantic maritime to continental in the centre and east, Mediterranean on the Mediterranean coast and Alpine in the mountains. For the most part, however, France has a temperate climate. Most of the French overseas territories have tropical to subtropical climates.
In general, winters in France are mild but with high rainfall. Summers are also moderately warm. The warmest month is July (20 °C), while January is the coldest, with an average temperature of 5.5 °C. Hot, sunny summers and mild winters are typical of Provence in southern France.
Heavy autumn storms can occur in the Mediterranean region from August to November. In winter, there is a risk of avalanches in the Alps.
Flora and Fauna of France
Vegetation of France
French flora ranges from olive and orange trees to alpine mosses and lichens. In the Mediterranean climate zone, Aleppo pines, holm oaks, cork oaks, cypresses and plane trees are the most common. Hard-leaved plants adapted to the dry conditions thrive in some of the now woodless areas of the Mediterranean coast. Olives, almonds and vines are grown mainly in France, especially in the south. Pine trees are most common on the French Atlantic coast. At higher altitudes in France, spruce and fir are more common. Deciduous forests are typical in the Ardennes and the Vosges, with beech, oak, ash, maple and birch being the most common species.
Wildlife of France
Because of the many cultivated landscapes, the diversity of wildlife in France is very limited. Eagles, vultures, marmots and chamois live in the mountains. In the Pyrenees, there are isolated brown bears and lynxes. The rivers and streams are home to beavers and otters, which have been reintroduced in some areas. In addition to the Egyptian vulture, five species of eagles (golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, booted eagle and short-toed eagle) are a unique feature of the French avifauna. France’s many coppice forests are home to species such as the hare, pheasant and partridge. The high forests are home to red deer, roe deer, wild boar and red fox. Reptiles such as geckos, lizards, snakes, and marsh and sea turtles are abundant in the southern parts of the country. Fish species such as cod, herring, mackerel, flatfish, sardines and tuna live in the coastal waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Social Geography of France
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