France may be divided into two regions by an imaginary line joining Biarritz in the Southwest and Luxembourg in the Northeast. Broad plains, low hills, and low plateaus predominate north and west of this line, and elevated plateaus and high mountains, including Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe (except for the Caucasus Mountains), are found south and east of the line. Linking the two types of terrain are several wide valleys and gaps, including the Saone valley, the upper Rhone valley, the combined Rhone-Saone corridor south of Lyon among others. The two principal mountain chains in France are the Pyrenees, which form the border with Spain (several summits exceed 3,000 m), and the Alps with elevations higher than 3,500 m, which form most of the border with Switzerland and Italy.The Jura, a mountain range on the Swiss border, are lower and less rugged components of the Alpine chain.
Four climatic types prevail in France. A true temperate maritime climate is found in the west, near the coasts : Brest, 7°C in January, 16°C in July, and frequent rainfall (800 mm) during 180 days of the year. A mid-latitude continental climate prevails in the interior of the country, with more rigorous winters and hotter summers (Paris: 2°C in January, 18°C in July) and rain falls on fewer days of the year. A mountain climate prevails at high elevations, where winters are generally bitterly cold and prolonged. Many villages in the high valleys receive more than 50 days of snow each year. A Mediterranean type of climate is found in a zone about 20 to 60 km wide along the Mediterranean coast. It is characterised by hot, dry summers, mild and humid winters, and a small number of rainy days during the year. In Marseille, 550 mm 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°C in January and 23°C in July.
Within France, the population distribution is uneven and closely reflects levels of economic development. Regions without industry or with poor soils are only sparsely populated. On the other hand, the regions with the largest populations are the great centers of economic activity: (1) the industrial north, (2) Lyon, where industry is important, (3) along the Cote d'Azur, which depends on tourism; and especially Paris (4), where diverse economic activities are concentrated. In the early 1990s, more than three-quarters of the country's population lived in cities. Metropolitan Paris is the home of one-sixth of France's population. Other French cities are small by comparison, the largest being the metropolitan areas of Lyon (1.2 Million) and Marseille (1.1 Million); next in size is Lille, which has a metropolitan area of 1,020,000. Total population is 58,317,450 (World Factbook, July 1996 est.).
Stations from the IDMP Network measure both daylight and solar radiation.

IDMP Network/Nantes

Lat.: 47°09' N
Long.: 1°20' W
Height above sea level: 30 m

Michel Perraudeau
CSTB, 11 rue H. Picherit
Nantes F 44300
Tel : +33 2 40 37 20 00
Fax : +33 2 40 37 20 40

IDMP Network/Vaulx-en-Velin / Lyon

Lat.: 45°47' N
Long.: 4°59' E
Height above sea level: 170 m

Dominique Dumortier
LASH-ENTPE, rue M. Audin
Vaulx-en-Velin Cedex F 69518
Tel : +33 4 72 04 70 87
Fax : +33 4 72 04 70 41

Clock Time: GMT+1. Summer time shift (GMT+2), from last Sunday in March,
to Saturday before last Sunday in October.

  1. Normes X35.103.

  2. "Ergonomical principles applicable to the lighting of workspaces for visual comfort", "Principes d'ergonomie visuelle applicables à l'éclairage des lieux de travail".

  3. Code du travail : décrets 83.721 et 83.722.

  4. Code de la construction : article R111.10.

  5. Code de l'urbanisme : articles R111.16 et R111.18.
  1. "Durée et fraction d'insolation en France, période 1951-1970 avec longues séries de mesures", Garnier M., Monographie n°105 de la Météorologie Nationale, 1978. ("Sunshine duration and relative sunshine duration in France, from 1951-1970").

  2. "Atlas Energétique du rayonnement solaire pour la France", Tricaud J.F., Pyc Edition, 1979. ("Solar Radiation Atlas for France").

  3. "Le gisement solaire en France : recueil de données statistiques, 1971-1980", Météorologie Nationale, 1984. ("The solar resource in France, Statistical data, 1971-1980").

  4. "Le gisement solaire en France : recueil de données quotidiennes, 1971-1980", Météorologie Nationale, 1984. ("The solar resource in France, Daily data, 1971-1980").

  5. "Atlas climatique de la construction", Chemery L., Duchene-Marullaz P. - CSTB, 1987. ("Building construction climatic atlas").

  6. "Tables de fréquences applicables aux problèmes d'éclairage et de thermique", Fournol A. - Cahiers du CSTB - Livraison n°74, 1950. ("Frequency tables usable for lighting and thermal design").

  7. "Disponibilité de la lumière du jour en France - Etablissement de données d'éclairement", Perraudeau M. - Rapport du CSTB Nantes n°91-6-R, 1991. ("Daylight availability in France-How to build illuminance data").
Comité National Français de l'éclairage
52 Boulevard Malesherbes
75008 Paris
Tel: +33 1 43 87 21 21
Fax: +33 1 43 87 16 98
CIE on the Internet.


More information is available at Amadeus or the Electric Library

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