Alps, French

   Forming an arc of 1,200 kilometers from the Gulf of Genoa to the Danube River at Vienna, the Alps are the highest and most densely settled mountain chain of Europe. Structurally, the alpine mountain system is divided into the western and Eastern Alps. The western Alps, where the French Alps are located, average about 1,000 meters higher and are more rugged and narrower than the Eastern Alps. Among the principal ranges are the Alps Grees in France, with the Jura Mountains as a northeastern outlier of this French chain. The Rhône River also passes through the French Alps.
   The highest peak of the Alps, Mont Blanc (15,771 feet [4,807 m]) is on the French-Italian border, largely situated in the Haute-Savoie Department of France. Geologically, it is known as a massif. Chambéry, an important tourist and winter sport center, is located at the base. There are large glaciers nearby, the most notable being the Mer de Glace on the northern slope.
   part of the alpine region in France is formed also by the Cottian Alps, along the French-Italian border, located primarily in southeastern France, but partly in northwestern Italy. Among its highest peaks is Aiguille de Chambeyron (12,602 feet [3,841 m]) in France. Prior to World War II, the French side of the Cottian Alps was heavily fortified. After the war, the Mont Cenis plateau and the Mont Tabor-Charberton area of this range was ceded by Italy to France.
   In the south of France is the Alps maritime area, with Nice as the largest city. This range extends to the Mediterranean Sea and is lower than the French alpine region to the north.
   In the Dauphiné region, Les Écrins (13,462 feet [4,103 m]) and Mont Pelvoux (12,970 feet [3,953 m]) are the two highest peaks of the French Alps in this area.
   winter sports, especially skiing, are important activities in the French Alps, and it is there that the first Winter Olympics were held at Chamonix/Mont Blanc in 1924. They also were held in the region, at Grenoble, in 1968, and at Albertville, in 1992.
   The Alps receive high precipitation at the north side (about 3,000 mm/120 inches) annually, sustaining the forests and the rivers of the region. Elevation and exposure to maritime air masses and to the sun's rays are the prime variables influencing vegetation. oak, hornbeam, pine, beech, fir, spruce, mountain maple, and larch are the most prevalent arbors. other flora are rhododendron, edelweiss, rock flora, sedges, rowan, creeping pine, and dwarf shrubs. Fauna includes ibex, chamois, woodchuck, snow grouse, snow mouse, and alpine daw.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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