Flora of France
France’s generally mild climate, abundant rainfall, variety of elevations, and long growing season provide a habitat for many species of plants and animals.
Centuries of human settlement have profoundly altered the land and greatly reduced the number and diversity of native species. Conservation efforts in recent decades have helped protect significant undeveloped areas that remain.
Plants of France
The natural vegetation of France is closely related to climatic conditions. In the mountains, the highest elevations near the snow line consist of expanses of bare rock with only a few varieties of moss and lichen growing in sheltered areas.
Further down the mountainside, but still above the forest line, alpine pastures provide good grazing for sheep and cattle during the summer months. Below the tree line, the highest forests are made up of coniferous species such as pine, larch, fir, and spruce.
Beneath the coniferous forest is a deciduous forest of oak, beech and chestnut trees. Only small remnants remain of the great forest that once covered the plains and lower mountain slopes of France. Most of France’s lowlands are now agricultural land, with forests restricted to areas with poorer soils.
However, the lowlands of France are not devoid of trees; stately tree lines line many roads and canals, and in the hedgerow country of Normandy and Brittany practically every little plot of land is surrounded by an embankment planted with bushes or trees.
Spreads of an evergreen shrub, called maquis, are prevalent along much of the Mediterranean coast, where summers are generally long, hot, and dry. The Mediterranean region once supported open forests of oaks and grasses.
This native vegetation was destroyed by centuries of overgrazing, burning, and logging. Many areas have been reduced to vacant land. The most common trees found in the Mediterranean region are the olive tree, the cork oak and the Aleppo pine.
fauna of France
While some species became inevitably extinct in the wild, such as bears and wolves, others, such as wild boar, chamois, marten and red squirrel, peregrine falcon and hen harrier, have survived and henceforth are protected, but not threatened.
In areas spared from the ravages of industrial-scale agriculture, insect and plant life remain rich and abundant.
And while it is true that the diversity of wildlife is not all that it used to be in many parts of France, there are other areas, especially in the hills of the southern half of France, where wildlife thrives as it always has.
Indeed, some species that were about to disappear have reappeared or have been reintroduced with varying degrees of success: griffon vultures in the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, bears in the Pyrenees, wolves in the Alps and possibly in the Massif Central, lynxes in the Jura, marmots in the Massif Central…
We present some of the most common wild animals in France:
The lynx is a kind of wild cat in the wildlife of France, which is extremely difficult to spot, and you can consider yourself very lucky if you ever get a chance to see these rare wild cats in France.
Bobcats were one of many species that were hunted in the early 1900’s and therefore there are not many of them in number now. Bobcats live predominantly in the bushy areas of forests in mountainous regions and prefer to live very quiet and isolated lives, only coming out of hiding to hunt prey.
An animal that is not as rare as the lynx and an animal that really has a good chance of being seen is the Chamois, a species of goat antelope that lives mostly in rugged mountainous regions and can be found at altitudes above 3,600 meters. meters.
As these animals are often preyed upon by carnivorous species, such as the lynx, the golden eagle, or sometimes even hunted by humans, they can run at a fast speed of up to 50 km/h and can also jump quite high, reaching a height of 2 meters vertically and 6 kilometers horizontally.
Like goats, these animals’ diet consists primarily of grass, and in the summer months, herbs and shrubs are added to their food list.
Wolves are another species of animals that were mostly hunted in the early 20th century. Later, they became part of the wildlife of France again from the Italian Alps, and are now mainly found in the French Alps, due to the fact that there is a lot of prey available and that they can live in peaceful coexistence with the other wildlife. region of.
Found primarily in packs of 6 to 12 people, wolves mark their territories with urine and are usually not too difficult to spot if you’re traveling with a guide who knows the surroundings well.
Being a carnivorous animal, the diet of wolves is made up of herbivorous animals such as chamois, hares, beavers, deer and sometimes bison.
The wild boar is an adorable species of pig, which also commonly resides in the French Alps, but at lower altitudes, around 2,000 meters above ground level.
People fear that these boars live in residential areas, as they are extremely intelligent and perceptive, sometimes eating or roaming all over the crops. Since these animals are found in abundance in the forests of France, chances are you will be able to see at least a couple of them on your visit to France.
Wild boars, like pigs, are very affectionate and social animals, they live in large groups, except for the males who prefer to live in isolation and only interact during the mating season. Wild boars are omnivorous animals and feed on bushes, bushes, lizards, small worms and other easily accessible flora and fauna.
You will absolutely fall in love with these adorable big squirrels, which can be seen in many wildlife sanctuaries in France. They mostly live and burrow, rarely coming out except twice a day when they need to feed.
They are very social animals, and they relate to each other by making sounds like a whistle. When the weather gets too cold, they fill their bodies with lots of food and create layers of fat that will carry them through their hibernation mode in the winter period.
Due to their small size, they spend most of their time hidden, so as not to fall prey to larger animals. The groundhog’s diet includes berries, mosses, roots, flowers, and vegetables.
These vicious birds are some of the most dangerous animals in France. Their extremely fast speed, sharp claws, and powerful paws make it very easy for them to snatch prey off the ground, such as rabbits, hares, squirrels, and marmots.
With the ability to fly at 250 km/h, this makes Golden Eagles one of the fastest moving animals on Earth and makes them a real danger to their prey. A curious fact about golden eagles is that they have a partner for life, and like humans, these bonds are established through a courtship ritual.
The courtship ritual involves male and female eagles picking up and dropping small stones and twigs from a height and picking them up out of the air to impress each other.
One of the most seen animals in the fauna of France is the roe deer. The roe deer is a very harmless animal and is generally found on its own business, feeding on grass and other weeds. They are not very social animals and are usually found alone, unless they have found a partner.
Among roe deer, it is usually the female that goes and initiates contact with the male, and once the female has laid her eyes on the male, it is common for the female to lure the male back into her territory. A staple diet of the roe deer consists of fruit, grass, and other herbs and berries found in the forest.
There are many foxes in France, but it is rare to see them in the forest, as they are very isolated animals that hide very well. They live in forests, and can also be found in almost any wildlife park in France.
They are quite agile and can travel up to 70 km/h, and unlike wolves or wild cats, they prefer to hunt their prey alone. Foxes have a life expectancy of two years, and the majority of their diet includes poultry, small animals such as birds and rodents, eggs, and even insects.
In recent years, due to the fact that foxes invade the homes of local people and take away their chickens and other poultry, it is not uncommon for foxes to be hunted and killed by local people.
Not to be confused with the very similar-looking American mink, the European mink is one of the most endangered animals in France. It is not easy to see a mink during the day as they are nocturnal animals and only come out at night to eat.
They are not social animals and do not live in groups, and perhaps the only time two European minks will come together is when they mate. A female mink gives birth to 2-5 young and cares for them for a year after their birth. The life expectancy of the European mink is about 6 years and its diet consists of birds, fish, insects, frogs and other small mammals.
The mouflon is another animal species in danger of extinction in France. They are a species of sheep and are mainly found in the forest. A handsome brown coat and ridged horns make this glorious beast easy to identify even with the naked eye.
Due to their appearance, they are often hunted and are slowly becoming extinct. For this reason, the mouflon needs to be in constant movement and cannot live in the same place for a long time.
Like any other sheep, the mouflon also grows annual rings on its horns to help determine its age. The sheep’s diet consists mainly of herbs, grass and shrubs.
The genet, called genette in French, is a small carnivorous mammal found mainly in southwestern France, south of the Loire and west of the Rhône. A nocturnal species, it is not an animal that has much contact with humans.
Beavers are found in many French rivers, notably the Loire and Rhône and some of their tributaries, such as the Indre, Cher, Allier, Isère, Doubs and Moselle.
The so-called “fouines” are quite common in most of the rural areas of France; they often live near or in houses and are sometimes considered a nuisance, as they seem to enjoy eating electrical wires and insulation from the loft.
The polecat, or in French « putois », is not common, but can be found in almost all of France, although not so much in the Alps. This relative of the otter and the domestic ferret is a nocturnal animal that prefers humid areas; lives essentially on frogs and small mammals.
Known in French as ” belettes,” they are particularly common in the northwestern regions of France, particularly Brittany, Normandy, and the Loire Valley; however, they can be observed throughout France.
The wallcreeper is native to southern Europe and Asia, but has been known to travel to England and the Netherlands. During the non-breeding season, they like to move to lower altitudes and are commonly seen at Les Baux in Provence.
The black-necked grebe is a gregarious animal, it likes to hang out in groups. However, they do not like to fly very much and reserve all their flights for migration, when they do their best and sometimes fly up to 6,000 km to reach places that other species cannot reach. You can find them in the Camargue.
This is probably one of the most emblematic birds of Provence, found in the Carmargue region. They lay a single white egg in a pile of mud and get their pink color from the organisms they eat, so it usually appears within a few years of adult life.
The heron is a long-legged bird that favors the coast. They have long necks and like to eat fish and small birds and amphibians. They are found in the Camargue region.
The Egyptian vulture is also found in Les Alpilles, near Saint-Rémy. As you would expect from a vulture, they eat the decaying flesh of other animals and also throw pebbles at other birds’ eggs to break them open for eating.
This bird has a wide range of habitats and a range towards India and Africa. In France, it is found in La Crau. They like to do stunts when they fly.
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