France, the second largest country in Europe, is partially covered central, north and west by a relatively flat plain that's punctuated by some time-worn low rolling hills and mountains.
Rugged cliffs front its coastline along the English Channel. There, to the northwest of Caen, the Cotentin Peninsula
shields the Channel Islands,
while a bit further to the west, the Brittany Peninsula
juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Assorted coastal islands
dot the western coastline south of Brest, where white-sandy beaches stretch along the Atlantic Ocean to the border with Spain.
A few scattered islands are found along the pebbled beaches of the Mediterranean coast. Corsica,
a mountainous island and the country's largest island, is located 160 km (99 miles
) southeast of Nice.
Mountains dominate eastern, south central and southern France, including the snowcapped Alps
that stretch along its border with Italy, then on into Switzerland and across southern Europe. The country's highest point, and the second highest point in Europe is located here; Mont Blanc at 15,770 ft. (4,807m)
Further to the north the limestone peaks of the Jura range front the country's eastern border with Switzerland. The heavily forested Vosges Mountains in the far-northeast stretch along the Rhine River valley.
In the far-southeast, directly to the west of Nice and dissected by the Verdon River, stands the Gorges du Verdon.
This spectacular and massive canyon is up to 700 meters deep in places, and about 11 miles long.
Volcanic in origin, the Massif Central is a mountainous plateau divided by steep canyons and valleys. These mountains (or Massifs
) stretch south toward the Mediterranean Sea. The Pyrenees, a jagged mountain range, covers the entire southern borders with Andorra and Spain.
The country is drained by dozens and dozens of rivers. The longest river in France is the Loire
at 630 miles (1,020 km) in length. Other significant rivers include the Garonne, Lot, Rhine, Rhone Seine,
each with many smaller tributaries.
For a colorful and most interesting view of the topography of France, view this map.