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Most of France is drained by five major river systems. Perhaps the most famous French river is the Seine, which rises in Burgundy, flows through Paris, and empties into the English Channel at Le Havre. With its major tributaries, especially the Marne, Oise, and Eure rivers, it drains most of the Paris Basin and upper Normandy and is an important waterway to and from Paris.

The Loire River, which has the largest drainage basin of any river entirely in France, rises in the Massif Central. Such tributaries as the Cher, Vienne, and Sarthe rivers enter the Loire before it flows into the Atlantic below Nantes.

The Rhine River, which rises in the Swiss Alps and enters the North Sea in The Netherlands, forms the boundary between France and Germany. Most of Alsace and Lorraine is drained by the Rhine or its major tributaries, the Moselle and Meuse.

The Rhone, another stream with its headwaters in Switzerland, is the major river of southeastern France. Joined by such tributaries as the Saone and Isere rivers, the Rhone drains southern Burgundy, the French Jura, and much of the French Alps before entering the Mediterranean through a delta just west of Marseilles .

The fifth major French river, the Garonne, drains the southwestern regions. Rising in the Pyrenees and flowing northward, it receives tributaries from both the Massif Central the Lot and Dordogne rivers and the Pyrenees the Ariege River. The Garonne drains much of the Aquitaine Basin before entering the Atlantic north of Bordeaux through a wide estuary known as the Gironde.

<To go and view the full description of the rivers, click on their names>