France Birding Tours
The French Republic (“France” hereafter) is a western European country and shares its land borders with seven other countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra, and Spain, plus the principality of Monaco. The United Kingdom is located to the north of France, across the English Channel. France is the third-largest country in Europe, behind Russia and Ukraine, and is the largest country in Western Europe. The capital of France, Paris, is a world renowned, ancient and historic city, full of culture, top cuisine (and drink!), history, and instantaneously recognizable landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. France’s population stands at 64.9 million people with around 12.6 million people living in the Paris metropolitan area.
Throughout the middle ages France had numerous conflicts with England, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire but largely triumphed and grew in prosperity throughout this period. During the 16th century the battle between the Catholic and Protestant faiths in France led to the country weakening and this was further compounded by multiple wars throughout the 17th century. In 1789 the French Revolution saw the fall of the monarchy and in the 19th century Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte took control of much of Europe. In the 20th century France saw victory in World War One but was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War Two before being liberated in 1944.
The landscape of France is varied but dominated by four main rivers: the Seine, Loire, Garonne, and the Rhóne and their catchment areas forms 62% of France’s land area. The Rhóne also divides the Alps and Massif Central mountain ranges and is a key waterway for migrating birds moving up from its mouth in the Mediterranean. Most of France’s land is made up of forests and low-lying countryside (with plenty of stately chateaus) but its south and eastern borders are dominated by two huge mountain ranges: The Alps and the Pyrenees. The Alps contains Mont Blanc which stands at 15,774 feet (4,808 meters), making it the tallest mountain in Western Europe. France’s climate is varied, with the majority of the country influenced by Atlantic Ocean weather systems. The mountain areas are typical tundra landscapes and the extreme south features a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters.