A guide to the main rivers in France
To understand the rivers of France it is useful to first have a little knowledge of the geography of the country.
Essentially France is mountainous along its eastern border with (from north to south) the mountains of the Vosges, Jura and Alpes, with further mountains in south-central France (Massif central) and along the southern border with Spain (the Pyrenees)
The rivers largely reflect this geography, and flow from the mountains towards the sea - usually flowing north and west to the Atlantic.
The Rhone follows almost the whole length of eastern France from north to south. It passes by the major industrial centre of Lyon, eventually reaching the Mediterranean in western Provence - hence the 'Bouches-du-Rhone' (mouth of the Rhone) department. to the north there are major canals joining the Rhone to the German Rhine river.
the Seine passes from east to west in northern France and is the river that passes through Paris
Rivers of France
Major rivers of France (mountain ranges marked in red)
The Loire River passes east to west just south of Paris. The river is notably UNESCO listed in the Loire Valley, a popular region because of the large number of impressive Renaissance castles along the river.
The Allier river is a notable tributary of the Loire, and the Cher, Sarthe, Creuse, Vienne and Loir rivers also all join with the Loire further downstream. See also rivers of the western Loire.
The Garonne passes from west to east across south-western France, entering the Atlantic at Bordeaux and is the main exit for streams and rivers in the Pyrenees to the south. The Lot river is a major tributary.
The River Dordogne passes west to east across south-western France to the north of the Garonne, and also enters the Atlantic at Bordeaux