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Garonne(gärôn`), river, 402 mi (647 km) long, rising in the central Pyrenees just inside Spain, and flowing generally NE to Toulouse, in SW France, where it swings northwest to join the Dordogne River and forms the Gironde estuary. The Garonne receives nearly all of the smaller rivers of SW France but is navigable only in its lower course; Bordeaux is the head of oceangoing navigation. The river suffers from irregular flow, fluctuating channels, and steep gradients. The famed Bordeaux vineyards overlook the lower river. The Garonne Lateral Canal, 120 mi (193 km) long, parallels the river from Castets to Toulouse.
a river in France and Spain (sources in Spain).
The Garonne is 647 km long and its basin has an area of 56,000 sq km. It originates in the central Pyrenees from several sources at a height of 1,800-2,300 m, and after emerging from the mountains it flows along the Garonne lowland. Its width at the city of Bordeaux is about 500 m. It empties into the Bay of Biscay. In the Pyrenees the Garonne flows in a narrow and deep valley at a steep angle, and further down it is a typical plains river with a well-developed valley. Its principal tributaries are the Save, the Gers, the Baise, the Ariège (from the Pyrenees), the Tarn, the Lot, and the Dordogne (from the Massif Central) At its juncture with the Dordogne River the Garonne forms the Gironde Estuary. The Garonne is fed chiefly by melted mountain snow and rain. Its discharge changes abruptly from season to season. The maximum discharge is from March to June, when high waters and floods—sometimes catastrophic ones—are frequent; the second maximum is in the fall. The average annual discharge at the mouth is about 680 cu m per sec (a maximum of 8,000 cu m per sec). The Garonne is part of a navigable waterway system (which includes the Garonne Canal and the Southern Canal) connecting the Bay of Biscay with the Mediterranean Sea. Maritime vessels navigate the Garonne as far as Bordeaux. The basin of the Garonne contains reservoirs and hydroelectric plants, and the river is also used for irrigation. Some large cities situated on the Garonne are Bordeaux, Agen, and Toulouse.