The basin of the Rhne, with an area (in France) of about 35,000 sq.
Alone among French rivers, the Rhne, itself Alpine in character in its upper course, is partly fed by Alpine rivers (the Arve, the Isre and the Durance) which have their floodsin spring at the melting of the snow, and are maintained by glacierwater in summer.
The Rhne, the source of which is in Mont St Gothard, in Switzerland, enters France by the narrow defile of LEcluse, and has a somewhat meandering course, first flowing south, then north-west, and then west as far as Lyons, whence it runs straight south till it reaches the Mediterranean, into which it discharges itself by two principal branches, which form the delta or island of the Camargue.
The local climates of France may be grouped under the following seven designations: (I) Sequan climate, characterizing the Seine basin and northern France, with a mean temperature of 500 F., the winters being cold, the summers mild; (2) Breton climate, with a mean temperature of 51-8 F., the winters being mild, the summers temperate, it is characterized by, west and south-west winds and frequent fine rains; (3) Girondin climate (characterizing Bordeaux, Agen, Pau, &c.), having a mean of 53.6 F., with mild winters and hot summers, the prevailing wind is from the north-west, the average rainfall about 28 in.; (4) Auvergne climate, comprising the Cvennes, central plateau, Clermont, Lirnoges anti Rodez, mean temperature 51.8 F., with cold winters and hot summers; (5) Vosges climate (comprehending Epinal, Mzires and Nancy), having a mean of 48.2 F., with long and severe winters and hot and rainy summers; (6) Rhne climate (experienced by Lyons, Chalon, Macon, Grenoble) mean temperature 5I~8 F., with cold and wet winters and hot summers, the prevailing winds are north and south; (7) Mediterranean climate, ruling at Valence, NImes, Nice and Marseilles, mean temperature, 57.5 F., with mild winters and hot and almost rainless summers.
The chestnut covers considerable areas in Prigord, Limousin and Beam; resinotis trees (firs, pines, larches, &c.) form fine forests in the Vosges and The indigenous fauna include the bear, now very rare but still found in the Alps and Pyrenees, the wolf, harbouring chiefly in the Cvennes and Vosges, but in continually decreasing areas; the fox, marten, badger, weasel, otter, the beaver in the extreme south of the Rhne valley, and in the Alps the marmot; the red deer and roe deer are preserved in many of the forests, and the wild boar is found in several districts; the chamois and wild goat survive in the Pyrenees and Alps.
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