Four climactic types prevail in
France. A true temperate maritime climate is found in the west, near the coasts,
and is exemplified at BREST, where winters are mild (7 deg C/45 deg F in January),
summers are cool (16 deg C/61 deg F in July), and rainfall is frequent (800 mm/32 in)
during 180 days of the year. A mid-latitude continental climate prevails in the
interior of the country, with hotter summers
(average July temperature of 18 deg C/64 deg F in PARIS) and more rigorous winters
(average January temperature of 2 deg C/36 deg F in Paris), and rain falls on fewer
days of the year.
A mountain climate prevails at high
elevations, where temperatures are influenced mainly by altitude, and winters are
generally bitterly cold and prolonged. Precipitation increases with elevation and
occurs in the form of snow in winter, many villages in the high valleys receiving more
than 50 days of snow each year. Briancon, in the Alps, has a mean temperature of -2
deg C (28 deg F) in January, and 17 deg C (63 deg F) in July; annual precipitation
averages 587 mm (23 in). A Mediterranean type of climate is found in a zone about 20
to 60 km (12 to 35 mi) wide along the Mediterranean coast. It is characterized by hot,
dry summers, mild and humid winters, and a small number of rainy days during the year.
In MARSEILLE, 550 mm (22 in) of rain falls during 60 days of the year, and the sun
shines for more than 3,000 hours each year. The average temperature is 7 deg C (45 deg
F) in January and 23 deg C (73 deg F) in July.
Daniel Noin; Reviewed by Anne Depigny and Agnes Jolivet.
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #6, ©1993.