What Are the Physical Features of France?

Dennis Jarvis/CC-BY-SA 2.0

France is a country covered largely in plains and accented by occasional rolling hills and expansive mountains along its borders. The second-largest country in Europe, France is mountainous in its northern coast as well as along the English Channel. In eastern and southern France, the country borders the Alps, where the country’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, summits at 15,770 feet.

Heavy forests and the Vosges mountains make up the geography of the Rhine River valley in northeast France, and the Jura mountain range separates France from its eastern border with Switzerland. The southeast is home to an expansive canyon, the Gorges du Verdon, that is 2,000 feet deep and 11 miles long. The Pyrenees is a jagged mountain range that stretches along the entire southern border that the country shares with Spain and Andorra. From the north, the Massif Central, a volcanic plateau, stretches to the southern coast and is divided by steep valleys and canyons. France’s largest island, Corsica, is located off the southeast coast of Nice, while several other scattered islands dot the coast along the Mediterranean sea. Several large rivers are responsible for draining the country, including the longest, the Loire at 630 miles, as well as the Lot, Rhone Seine, Garonne and Rhine rivers.