Small by comparability to the 61 Nationwide Parks within the U.S., France has solely eight within the nation. Nonetheless, the landscapes and terrains are fairly various, from the snow-covered Alps, to blue water coves surrounded by petrified stone cliffs close to Marseilles, to an island park on the Mediterranean Sea, to a densely populated forest.
Right here’s an in depth record of the parks and the vary of actions they provide.
Calanques Nationwide Park
A current addition to the nationwide park system of France is Calanques National Park which is 201 sq. miles and extends from simply outdoors of the town of Marseilles to the stunning port village of Cassis in southern France. It’s the one nationwide park in Europe that encompasses land, sea, and concrete areas.
The visually gorgeous calanques, or coves, have azure waters contrasted by tall, limestone cliffs. There are dozens of mountain climbing trails within the park. One of the vital fashionable is the Cassis Calanques path which begins at Port Milou, winding via the spectacular calanques and ending at Port Pin, the place you may chill out on the pleasant seashore and take a swim within the heat Mediterranean. In case you have the stamina, you may proceed mountain climbing up a steep incline to the lookout level of Calanque d’En Vau, one of the vital breathtaking websites within the park. All the hike takes 2.5 to three hours to finish.
Professional Tip: There are small boat cruises that tour the calanques, leaving from the Cassis harbor.
Forêts Nationwide Park
The most recent nationwide park of France, nevertheless, is Parc National de Forêts, which opened in 2019. Situated in northeastern France, the park covers an space of 220 sq. miles. The park is a thick forest of timber relationship way back to the French Revolution. The park has a inhabitants of animals and birds reminiscent of wild boar deer, black storks, and wild cats.
There are over 1,200 miles of mountain climbing trails and 435 miles of rivers for water actions reminiscent of canoeing and kayaking. There are additionally a variety of meals stands with native produce all through the park.
Additionally within the park is the Auberive Abbey, an historic Cistercian abbey on the sting of the River Aube, based in 1135 by St. Bernard, the Abbot of Clairvaux. Apart from the 18th-century convent buildings and the Cistercian chancel within the church, the abbey is now a cultural and humanities middle with modern artwork exhibitions. The 16-acre grounds have pear timber, apple orchards, and a rose backyard.
Professional Tip: Parc Nationwide des Forêts is the closest nationwide park to Paris, roughly 3 hours by automobile.
Écrins Nationwide Park
On the other spectrum of the Calanques Nationwide Park is Écrins National Park, which has excessive mountains measuring as much as 13,500 ft within the Alps space in southeastern France, close to the town of Grenoble.
The park is an alpine wonderland of glacier fields and valleys, crisp mountain air, woodlands and forests, pastures, and pristine lakes. It’s wealthy with an in depth record of fauna and flora, and hares, marmots, foxes, chamois, and golden eagles are noticed continuously.
Snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing are among the winter actions out there within the attractive snow-covered mountains. In summer season, you may mountain bike your method via the small village cities, hike the various trails, rock climb, and in case you are adventurous, you may paraglide. If you’re as much as the problem, hike the GR54/Tour des Ecrins, a round, 112-mile trek, one of the vital arduous in Europe, and takes 7 to 12 days to finish.
Cévennes Nationwide Park
Situated within the lesser-traveled space of Cevennes close to the Ardeche and Aveyron areas in mid-France, Cévennes National Park is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The huge park covers over 360 miles and extends over 55 counties. The wild terrain has rivers, streams, and torrents, and a giant variation of wildlife. There are quaint nation roads lined with pine, beech, chestnut tree, and oak groves.
There’s additionally historic and cultural websites reminiscent of Cévennes Valley Museum and Cévennes Museum, devoted to native arts and crafts, and the La Roque Silk Manufacturing facility.
A must-do is to pattern the regional meals merchandise reminiscent of a particular uncooked goat’s milk cheese, honey, and Bajana, an genuine chestnut soup.
Pyrénées Nationwide Park
Partly positioned on the border of Spain, the Pyrénées National Park, probably the most visited in France, is highlighted by the virtually 10,000-foot-high Pyrénées mountains, giant tracts of forest, excessive altitude, placid lakes, mountain torrents, and waterfalls. There’s additionally the prodigious quantity of over 45,000 wildlife species together with an animal inhabitants of animals and birds reminiscent of the virtually extinct Pyrenean bears, genettes, lynxes, bearded vultures, peregrine falcons, and golden eagles.
Fishing within the lakes and streams and mountain climbing via the mountains are simply two of the excellent actions.
Different sights embrace the UNESCO Heritage web site Cirque de Gavarnie, a valley fashioned by glacial erosion close to the border of Spain with the Gavarnie Falls, a 1,400-foot-long waterfall, and Pont d’Espagne, an historic stone bridge that connects France to Spain.
One of the best ways to method the myriad of accessible sights and actions is to go to the varied park customer places of work in Saint-Lary, Luz-Saint-Sauveur, Gavarnie, Cauterets, and Arrens-Marsous.
Mercantour Nationwide Park
Mercantour National Park is unfold throughout two provinces, Alpes-Maritimes and the Alpes de Haute Provence and 265 sq. miles, within the south of France, lower than an hour away from Good, on the French Riviera. The park additionally borders Italy.
The park is full of hundreds of plant species, together with 40 native to the park, and the Lac d’Allos, the largest excessive mountain lake in Europe.
Sospel is a medieval village nestled within the park at an altitude of 1,150 ft and has an historic toll bridge from the thirteenth century, one of many final nonetheless standing in Europe.
Different worthwhile sights within the park embrace Lake Allos, the biggest mountain lake in Europe; the Valley of Wonders, which has an astounding 40,000 cave etchings; and Saorge, a village on the sting of Italy, with medieval architectural treasures.
Outside actions within the park embrace white water rafting and tubing, mountain climbing, chamois (a goat/antelope species) watching, and donkey trekking.
Port-Cros Nationwide Park
The one nationwide park in France positioned on an island, Port-Cros National Park, established in 1963, is on the Mediterranean Sea close to Toulouse, in southwestern France. Smaller than the opposite huge parks, the protected island is about on 6.5 sq. miles of land and 11 sq. miles of shoreline.
The island’s historical past goes again to Roman instances, and the stays embrace 30 shipwrecks, 20 forts, aqueducts, and farm ruins.
Strolling and mountain climbing on three trails is the principle exercise on the island, and there’s additionally snorkeling within the underwater Palud path, plus glass-bottom boat excursions.
Professional Tip: There are often scheduled day by day ferries that depart from Saint-Pierre Marina in Hyères.
Vanoise Nationwide Park
Vanoise National Park is located within the Savoie area, in a valley of the French Alps. The unimaginable mountain vary has roughly 100 peaks which can be near 10,000 ft excessive.
The park is a haven for avid hen watchers with greater than 100 species within the protected areas, together with Eurasian eagle owls, golden eagles, black woodpeckers, black grouses, wallcreepers, and bearded vultures.
Chamois and alpine ibexes (a species of untamed goats) are frequent, and different animals noticed within the park are Eurasian lynx, marmots, mountain hares, ermine, and badgers.
In summer season, strolling, mountain climbing, biking, paragliding, horseback using, and biking are fashionable actions, and in winter, there’s snowboarding, ice skating, and tobogganing.
Bordering the park are quaint, tiny cities reminiscent of Champagny-le-Haut, Friburge, Bramans, and Seez, and the world class ski resorts, Val d’Isere,Tignes, and Les Trois Vallees.