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Geography of France
RegionWestern Europe
Coordinates48°51′N 2°21′E / 48.850°N 2.350°E / 48.850; 2.350
AreaRanked 42nd
 • Total551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi)
 • Land99.48%
 • Water0.52%
Coastline3,427 km (2,129 mi)
Borders4,176 km (2,595 mi)
Highest pointMont Blanc 4,808 m (15,774 ft)
Lowest pointÉtang de Lavalduc −10 m (−33 ft)
Longest riverLoire 1,012 km (629 mi)
Largest lakeLac du Bourget 44.5 km2 (17.2 sq mi)
ClimateOceanic climate, Mediterranean climate (south), mountain climate (Alps and Pyrenees)
TerrainPlains and hills (north and west), mountainous (south)
Natural resourcesCoal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish, gold
Natural hazardsFlooding, avalanches, midwinter windstorms, drought, forest fires (south)
Environmental issuesWater pollution, air pollution, agricultural runoff, acid rain
Exclusive economic zoneIn Europe: 334,604 km2 (129,191 sq mi)
All overseas territories: 11,691,000 km2 (4,514,000 sq mi)
A topographic map of the Republic, excluding all the overseas departments and territories
Simplified physical map

The geography of France consists of a terrain that is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south (including the Massif Central and the Pyrenees) and the east (the highest points being in the Alps). Metropolitan France has a total size of 551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi) (Europe only). It is the third largest country in Europe by area (after Russia and Ukraine) and the largest in Western Europe.

Physical geography of Metropolitan France

Köppen climate classification map of Metropolitan France
Land use in Metropolitan France, with urban areas shown in red, 2006.
Natural resources of France. Metals are in blue (Al — aluminium ore, Fe — iron ore, W — tungsten, Au — gold, U — uranium). Fossil fuels are in red (C — coal, L — lignite, P — petroleum, G — natural gas). Non-metallic minerals are in green (F — fluorite, K — potash, T — talc).


Main article: Climate of France

The French metropolitan territory is relatively large, so the climate is not uniform, giving rise to the following climate nuances:

Climate change in France includes above average heating.[1]

Elevation extremes

Land use

Irrigated land: 26,420 km2 (2007)

Total renewable water resources: 211 km3 (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 31.62 km3/yr (19%/71%/10%) (512.1 m3/yr per capita) (2009)

Natural resources

Coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish, gold, clay, petroleum, silver

Natural hazards

Flooding, Hailstorms, avalanches, midwinter windstorms, drought, forest fires in the south near the Mediterranean


The region that now comprises France consisted of open grassland during the Pleistocene Ice Age. France gradually became forested as the glaciers retreated starting in 10,000 BC, but clearing of these primeval forests began in Neolithic times. These forests were still fairly extensive until the medieval era.

In prehistoric times, France was home to large predatory animals such as wolves and brown bears, as well as herbivores such as elk. The larger fauna have disappeared outside the Pyrenees Mountains where bears live as a protected species. Smaller animals include martens, wild pigs, foxes, weasels, bats, rodents, rabbits, and assorted birds.

By the 15th century, France had largely been denuded of its forests and was forced to rely on Scandinavia and their North American colonies for lumber. Significant remaining forested areas are in the Gascony region and north in the Alsace-Ardennes area. The Ardennes Forest was the scene of extensive fighting in both world wars.

The north central part of this region is dominated by the Paris Basin, which consists of a layered sequence of sedimentary rocks. Fertile soils over much of the area make good agricultural land. The Normandy coast to the northwest is characterized by high, chalk cliffs, while the Brittany coast (the peninsula to the west) is highly indented where deep valleys were drowned by the sea, and the Biscay coast to the southwest is marked by flat, sandy beaches.

A recent global remote sensing analysis suggested that there were 1,433 km2 of tidal flats in France, making it the 23rd ranked country in terms of tidal flat area.[2]

Political geography

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Internal divisions

Regions and departments of Metropolitan France in 2016.

Main article: Administrative divisions of France

France has several levels of internal divisions. The first-level administrative division of Integral France is regions. Besides this the French Republic has sovereignty over several other territories, with various administrative levels.


Extreme points

This is a list of the extreme points of France; the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.

France (mainland Europe)

France (metropolitan)

France (including départements d'outre mer)

France (all territory of the French Republic)

Temperature extremes

These are the extreme temperatures in France.

Climate data for France
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) −41.0
Source: [4]

See also



  1. ^ "Climate change in France". Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  2. ^ Murray, N.J.; Phinn, S.R.; DeWitt, M.; Ferrari, R.; Johnston, R.; Lyons, M.B.; Clinton, N.; Thau, D.; Fuller, R.A. (2019). "The global distribution and trajectory of tidal flats". Nature. 565 (7738): 222–225. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0805-8. PMID 30568300. S2CID 56481043.
  3. ^ "Les collectivités locales en chiffres 2021" (PDF) (in French). Ministère de la Cohésion des territoires et des Relations avec les collectivités territoriales. August 2021. p. 18.
  4. ^ "METEO FRANCE - le site institutionnel de Météo-France".