Massif Central

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Massif Central: Great Hungarian Plain

Massif Central

(mäsēf` säNträl`) [Fr.,=central highlands], great mountainous plateau, c.33,000 sq mi (85,470 sq km), S central France, covering almost a sixth of the surface of the country. The chief water divide of France, it borders on the Paris basin in the north, the Rhône valley and basin in the east and south, and the Aquitanian basin in the west. The core of the Massif is the volcanic mass of the Auvergne Mts. that rises to the Massif's highest point, Puy de Sancy (6,187 ft/1,886 m). The Cévennes limit the Massif Central on the southeast and the Causses form its southwest border. The Massif Central is the most rugged and geologically diverse region within France. It is also France's most varied region climatically. All four chief rivers of France (the Seine, Loire, Rhône, and Garonne) receive tributaries from the Massif Central; the Loire, Dordogne, and Charente originate there. Sheep and goat grazing, dairying, cattle raising, and, in the fertile valleys, agriculture are the chief occupations of the region. Kaolin is mined. Hydroelectricity is produced along the western edge of the Massif Central. Clermont-Ferrand, Le Creusot, Limoges, Saint-Étienne, and Roanne are important industrial centers.

Massif Central


a mountain massif in the central and southern parts of France, with elevations up to 1,886 m (Puy de Sancy). The Massif Central is one of the largest ancient massifs of the Epihercynian platform. It exhibits numerous instances of folding, granite magmatism, and metamorphism.

The Auvergne Mountains, which constitute the northern half of the massif, are composed of schists that were folded in the late Precambrian and penetrated by granite intrusives; on the south, the Auvergne Mountains are bounded by the Ruthenia-Limousin zone of Paleozoic folding. The relatively younger Hercynian structure of the southeastern part of the massif includes Montagne Noire and the Cévennes.

The Massif Central was consolidated in the early Carboniferous and subsequently experienced prolonged denudation. In the Cenozoic the region was subjected to general uplifting and was split into numerous blocks; it was an area of extensive volcanic activity, especially in such sections as the Chaîne des Puys. The highest peaks were covered with glaciers in the Pleistocene.

In the northern and central regions, basalt plateaus with cones of extinct volcanoes alternate with tablelands and with the northsouth tectonic valleys of the rivers of the Loire basin; in the south are the karst plateaus of the Causses, and in the east and southeast is a series of mountains and tablelands (including the Cévennes) with steep, steplike slopes facing the Rhône Valley and the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The plateaus of Morvan, Limousin, and Millevaches are in the north and northwest.

The region has a temperate marine climate. The summers are cool, with a mean July temperature of 11°–16°C. In the winter, freezing weather and snow alternate with thaws; the mean January temperature is approximately 0°C. The windward slopes of the Massif Central generally receive between 1,200 and 1,500 mm of precipitation a year, although more falls in certain places; 500 to 700 mm falls annually in the basins. Many French rivers rise in the region, including the Loire and right tributaries of the Garonne and the Rhône.

Forests of pine and broad-leaved trees (oak, beech, and chestnut) are common up to elevations of 1,000 to 1,200 m. At higher elevations, up to 1,400 m, the forests are primarily of fir; the forests give way to shrubs and subalpine meadows. The forests, which have been severely depleted, cover ten to 15 percent of the area of the massif and alternate with plowland and meadows. Steppe-like meadows are found on the southern and southeastern slopes.

Natural resources of economic importance are uranium ore, which is extracted from the Plateau Limousin, the Monts du Forez, and the Morvan Mountains, and hard coal, which is mined in the Cévennes and the St. Etienne basin. Various building materials are also economically important. Mineral springs are found in the Massif Central in such locations as Vichy.


Massif Central

a mountainous plateau region of S central France, occupying about one sixth of the country: contains several extinct volcanic cones, notably Puy de D?me, 1465 m (4806 ft.). Highest point: Puy de Sancy, 1886 m (6188 ft.). Area: about 85 000 sq. km (33 000 sq. miles)
References in periodicals archive ?
With plenty of improvement expected, and Kevin Manning choosing to ride the selection rather than Bolger runner, Massif Central gets the vote to open his account.
France's Auvergne region, often referred to on maps as the Massif Central, lies almost in the dead center of the country, and it is in this rugged mountainous area that four of France's great rivers begin, the Loire, Cher, Dordogne, and the Lot.
Most of the novel is devoted to Pierre's exploits during the war, first in the Massif Central, and later in a communist Resistance network controlled by the British in the Southwest of France.
The range will be very wide both geographically, and in terms of building types and will include Hans Hollein's Vulcanology Museum in France's Massif Central, and Annette Gigon I Mike Guyer's Kalkriese Archaeological Museum Park in Germany, which evokes the battle of the Teutoburger Wald, where the German Arminius destroyed the legions of the Roman general Quintilius Varus in 9AD.
Travelling across central France toward Lyon, as you near Bromont-Lamothe, the spare hillside village Robert Bresson came from more than 70 years ago, you find yourself climbing up the spine of the country--the Massif Central.
today announced the leading bank in France's Massif Central region, CrE[umlaut]dit Agricole Centre France, reports positive results using its Dialogue enterprise software to streamline document creation processes and produce more effective communications for clients.
Contract notice: supply and delivery of road marking products for the interdepartmental direction des routes du massif central
Week two of the Tour concludes with another hilly leg-sapping test through the Massif Central.
But sprinters will have to move aside for the mountain goats today, when Britain's defending champion Chris Froome gets the chance to flex his muscles in the Massif Central.
Jessica was one of 24 pupils from Wolfreton School in Hull who were on a six-day trip to the Meymac activity resort in the Massif Central region.
LANCE Armstrong will return to the Tour de France to ride two stages in the Massif Central region next month.
They obviously haven't taken the January and February temperature in the French Alps or Massif Central.