France is a country with a rich history and culture, home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. To mountaineers, it is the birthplace of the modern sport of mountain climbing; the place where a scientist by the name of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure took one look at the country’s highest peak and decided he would be the one to reach its summit. Or to ensure that someone did.
So, what is the tallest mountain in France? We’ll answer this and more as we explore the highest mountains in France.
1. Mont Blanc: The Biggest Mountain in France
Height: 15,773 feet | Range: Graian Alps
One of the world’s most iconic peaks, Mont Blanc is both the tallest mountain in France and in Western Europe.
Located in the Graian Alps, it gives its name to the Mont Blanc Massif, the peaks of which were described as “palaces of nature” by geologist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure. In 1760, in a move that would have him credited as the father of alpinism, de Saussure offered a reward to the first person to climb the 15,773-foot mountain, a feat only achieved in 1785. Today, some 20,000 people attempt the climb every year.
France’s highest peak is shared with Italy and, while France is usually cited as the location of its summit, this has been a point of contention since the 18th century.
2. Mont Blanc de Courmayeur
Height: 15,577 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Despite its undeniably impressive height of 15,577 feet, there are several reasons why Mont Blanc de Courmayeur almost doesn’t make this list at all. Firstly, some consider its summit to be in Italy. Secondly, with the peak’s prominence of just 60 feet, it is technically not a mountain in its own right. Under the parameters set out by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, it should be a subpeak of Mont Blanc. However, the federation decided to include it as a mountain due to its striking appearance and contribution to climbing. Going by this standard, it is the second tallest mountain in France.
3. Mont Maudit
Height: 14,649 feet | Range: Graian Alps
We remain in the Mont Blanc massif on the border of France and Italy for the third biggest mountain in France, Mont Maudit. The name means “Cursed Mountain”, and indeed the whole range was once known as cursed.
4. Dôme du Goûter
Height: 14,121 feet | Range: Graian Alps
About a mile northwest of Mont Blanc’s peak, Dôme du Goûter is the fourth highest point in France.
5. Mont Blanc du Tacul
Height: 13,937 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Located in between Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc du Tacul rises to 13,937 feet, making it France’s fifth highest peak.
6. Grandes Jorasses
Height: 13,806 feet | Range: Graian Alps
The sixth highest mountain in France has several peaks, the highest of which is Pointe Walker at 13,806 feet. If going by peaks then Pointe Whymper at 13,727 feet would be the seventh highest. The mountain straddles the Haute-Savoie in France and the Aosta Valley in Italy. Its north face, which is in France, is one of the trilogy of great north faces of the Alps. Together with those of the Eiger and the Matterhorn, this is an acknowledgement of the extreme difficulty, danger, and height of climbing these vertical faces.
7. Aiguille Verte
Height: 13,524 feet | Range: Graian Alps
The mountain of Aiguille Verte or “Green Needle” is part of the Mont Blanc massif and, at 13,524 feet high, is the seventh tallest mountain in France.
8. Aiguilles du Diable
Height: 13,497 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Aiguilles du Diable is another of the highest mountains in France with several peaks listed on the official list. The highest of these is L’Isolee at 13,497 feet above sea level.
9. Barre des Écrins
Height: 13,458 feet | Range: Dauphiné Alps
Prior to 1860, Barre des Écrins was France’s highest peak. However, with the annexation of Savoy bringing the Mont Blanc massif into the running, it is now the joint ninth highest point in France, rising up to around 13,458 feet. Located within the Écrins National Park, the mountain is part of the Massif des Écrins in the mountain range of the Dauphiné Alps.
The physical features of Barre des Écrins are a starkly two-sided affair, with the south side being rocky and the north icy. The mountain is surrounded by four glaciers.
9. Grande Rocheuse
Height: 13,458 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Rising to the same height as Barre des Écrins, Grande Rocheuse is joint ninth on this list of the highest mountains in France.
Other Examples of France’s Highest Peaks
Several other impressive mountains in France rise over 12,000 feet above sea level, including the following:
Height: 12,648 feet | Range: Graian Alps
In 1963, Vanoise National Park opened in the region of Savoie as the first national park in France with Grande Casse at its heart. The highest peak of the Vanoise Massif, which is part of the Graian Alps, it rises to a height of 12,648 feet and is connected to another mountain, Grande Motte, by a high ridge.
Height: 12,398 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Translated as “rotten mountain”, Mont Pourri is the second highest mountain in the Vanoise Massif. It reaches a height of 12,398 feet.
Height: 12,129 feet | Range: Graian Alps
Dent Parrachée has an elevation of 12,129 feet above sea level. Like Mont Pourri and Grande Casse, it is part of the Vanoise Massif in the Graian Alps.
The Highest Mountains in France
Despite being mostly made up of lowlands and plains, the highest mountains in France more than make up for in number what they lack in spread. Indeed, France has several mountains exceeding 12,000 feet. As we’ve seen, determining the order of France’s highest peaks is something of an uphill struggle, with different concepts of what counts as a separate mountain and even the country they’re in. Hopefully we’ve stuck the landing.