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Navigating the Rivers of France

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Loire

The Loire is France’s longest river, with a length of 1,013 kilometers (629 miles). The valley surrounding the Loire is a famous vineyard area with many epic chateaus, making these banks an attractive spot. The Loire originates in the Cevennes mountains, which are in south-central France, near Mont Gerbier de Jonc. This river then flows north, passing through Nevers up through Orleans, where it turns west, flows through Nantes, and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its size, the Loire is hardly dammed, creating many opportunities for boating excursions that have beautiful cultural and natural sites.

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Seine

The Seine is the most famous French river, and the second longest. It is 776 kilometers (486 miles) long, and is known for flowing very slowly. It rises around Dijon, near the Swiss Alps, and flows through Paris and then empties into the English Channel when it reaches Le Havre. In Paris, 37 different bridges link the banks of the Seine, offering very picturesque urban scenery which many artists and filmmakers have used for years. Of course this river has also been exploited by millions of tourists, as many different cruises around Paris are offered on the Seine.

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Garonne

The Garonne River starts off in the Pyrenees mountains of northern Spain, on the slopes of Pic Aneto. It eventually reaches France as it flows northward, through the cities of Toulouse and Agen. It terminates at the Gironde estuary in Bourdeaux, and eventually pours its waters into the Atlantic Ocean. The Garonne’s total length is 575 kilometers (357 miles). It is famous for exhibiting tidal bores, where tides flow against the river current, which is an opportunity for water sports like surfing and jet skiing in certain sections.

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Rhone

The Rhone River starts off in Switzerland and flows into Geneva, then through the southeastern corner of France. It has a length of 813 kilometers (505 miles). In France, the river flows into Lyon and eventually into Arles, where it divides into the Great Rhone and Litte Rhone, which go into the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhone was a historically significant river which was used for navigating before any railroads or highways were installed; it dates back as a useful waterway to the times of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. There are some vineyards along its banks.

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