Discover 11 French National Parks
© G.Deschamps / CRT Occitanie – The Cévennes National Park is located in the Occitanie and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions.
They receive 9 million visitors annually and cover 10% of France’s territory. National Parks not only ensure nature conservation and are places of eco-friendly recreation, but they also embody part of the French identity. Explore 11 iconic places, considered some of the most beautiful in the world: from the Pyrenees to the Alps, including French Guiana and Guadeloupe!
France has 11 national parks, true “monuments of nature” with unique flora and fauna. They are known all over the world as areas of exceptional diversity of marine and terrestrial species.
All national parks share a common goal: to limit the impact on the natural environment, to promote an ecologically friendly attitude toward the surrounding world, and to preserve the biological diversity of their park. Each national park has its own “map” – a long-term development project.
These are publicly accessible free spaces where you can enjoy beautiful views in a safe environment and engage in your favorite outdoor activities: walking, swimming, diving, skydiving, winter sports. Let’s go on adventures!
11 national parks, 3 of which are located in overseas France
Founded in 1963, this is the oldest national park. The Vanoise National Park, located in Savoie, includes mountains over 3,000 meters high and valleys spread over wide passes. There is an abundance of geological landscapes and a great variety of flora and fauna. The Vanoise National Park is adjacent to the Italian Gran Paradiso National Park, with a total boundary of 14 km.
The National Park of Por-Cro, established in 1963, is the oldest land and sea park in Europe. It is based on the islands of Porquerolles and Por Cros of the Yerne group of islands. The park owns an outstanding historical heritage, including ruins from the Roman Empire, the remains of wrecked ships and two dozen military fortifications. Here you can also admire a very diverse fauna, which consists mainly of underwater species and birds.
© IMAREVA / Adobe Stock – Mount Sirac (3,441 m) is reflected in the waters of Lake Lauzon in the Ecrén National Park (Upper Alps).
It is the largest French national park after the Guiana Amazon Park. It is the only metropolitan national park in the middle mountains and the only park with a permanent population at its center. In 1985 the park was named a “Biosphere Reserve” by the World Organization of UNESCO and in 2011 the “Spits and Cevennes, a Mediterranean agro-pastoral cultural landscape” was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Here you can admire the starry sky and the night scenery, which is particularly good!
Eckrén National Park, between the Northern and Southern Alps, has been named by the Council of Europe “Europe’s Highland Park”: it has 150 peaks over 3,000 meters high and 10,000 hectares of glaciers! Its vast alpine meadows and valleys, which have their own names (Valgodemar, Briansonnet, Chansor…) soften the harsh beauty of the mountains and give a rich experience during the walk.
The park has an excellent geographical location: on the border between France and Italy. The Alps on the Mediterranean coast have it all: peaks, mountain lakes, canyons, gorges and hills covered in olive groves. Thanks to the colorful mosaic of different environments, this park, along with its Italian counterpart, the Maritime Alps Nature Park, is considered the main European park.
© bennymarty / Adobe Stock – The Carbet Falls, located in the heart of Guadeloupe National Park, is considered one of the most spectacular water cascades in the Lesser Antilles.
Guadeloupe National Park, founded February 20, 1989, is the first park established in the French overseas territories. It was created to protect a forested area near the town of Bas-Terre. Located in the heart of the Caribbean islands, the park has a rich and diverse ecosystem, from seabed dwellers and coral reefs to the top of the Soufrière volcano, including rainforests. It is an ideal place for swimming, walking and picnicking.
: Occupying 40% of Guiana and bordering Brazil’s Tumucumaca National Park, this massif of rainforest is the largest national park in France and the European Union! Under the park’s protection is that part of the planet with one of the highest degrees of biodiversity, as well as the cultural heritage of the American Indian, Bushinenge and Creole civilizations that live in the area.
The purpose of the park, established in 2007, was to protect the interior mountainous areas of the island, which are called Les Aots, and to emphasize their importance. There are 110 natural zones on the mainland of the island, from the coast to dry or tropical rainforests. Thanks to its breathtaking scenery and immense biodiversity, the island has received a high award: in 2010, the volcanoes, craters and ramparts of Réunion Island were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
© rochagneux / Adobe Stock – Port Pin Cove, located between Port Myou and An-Vo, is part of the Calanques National Park (French: Calanques – small bays).
Calanques National Park (External link) The tenth French national park, the Calanques National Park is located in the heart of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence. It was founded in 2012 and is the only national park in Europe that is both inland, marine, and suburban. The park’s biodiversity is made up of coastal mountain ranges riddled with picturesque coves and one of the richest underwater canyons in the Mediterranean Sea. The local landscapes have become symbols of Mediterranean Provence.
This is the latest national park to be created on the border of Champagne and Burgundy on November 7, 2019! Its purpose is to enhance the value of the lowland deciduous forests typical of the calcareous plateaus of northeastern France. 80% of the forests that make up this park have existed since the French Revolution. Another task of the National Park of Forests, which is also a huge water source, is to protect water resources whose value is so great!
© Endémikimages / Adobe Stock – The Mafat volcanic crater in the Parc National de la Réunion can only be reached on foot or by helicopter!
France’s 10 most beautiful national parks
From beautiful beaches in the south to the indomitable Alps and incredible countryside; France has an incredible number of natural attractions that are sure to amaze and entice visitors to this wonderful country, and that’s even without mentioning its stunning overseas territories!
With fantastic cities like Paris , Lyon and Bordeaux that are sure to be worth a visit, there is plenty to see in France and one can spend months sightseeing.
One of the most popular countries in the world for tourists, France, will constantly delight and delight visitors who are sure to appreciate its historical sites, world-famous cuisine and vibrant cultural heritage.
To help you on your trip, I present you 10 of the most beautiful national parks in France that you will definitely enjoy.
10. Parc national des Cévennes
Parc national des Cévennes in France
Parc national des Cévennes
The Parc national des Cévennes with its wide variety of landscapes is ideal for a delightful hike as the rich scenes of nature slowly merge and change before your eyes. The array of mountains and plateaus in the park have valleys and hills that descend from their peaks and are a pleasure to look at from above. Forests and meadows provide a beautiful contrast to the barren rock of the cliffs and plateaus, and many peaceful rivers and streams loop between the hills.
Fauna and flora fill you in every nook and cranny of the park, and wildflowers only add to the scenic beauty of this charming national park in the south of France.
9. Parc national de Port-Cros
Parc national de Port Cros
Port Cros National Park in France
This beautiful national park is located in the Mediterranean Sea on the island of Port Cros, which gave its name to the park. Three nearby small islands are also within its boundaries and their calm turquoise waters welcome you in their warm embrace. The beige cliffs and sandy beaches that fringe the islands’ shores stand out beautifully between the green fauna and blue waters that surround them.
The seawaters around the national park are protected, as are the fragile ecosystems of the islands themselves, and tourism is strictly controlled to ensure that the environment remains in pristine condition.
Arriving here by boat is an unforgettable experience as the idyllic islands appear in the distance in front of you, slowly growing in size until they are finally right in front of you in all their beauty.
8. Parc National des Pyrenees
Parc National des Pyrenees
Parc National des Pyrenees
Simple and spectacular. This incredible national park has many beautiful views and panoramas waiting for you to see them.
Located on the border between France and Spain, the park is named after the mountain range that towers over its territory, and you can certainly enjoy an amazing array of scenery. Your spirit will soar, free and unencumbered by worldly cares, and you can let it go to enjoy the unforgettable scenery around you. The mountains, picturesque and perfect in their beauty, rise impressively above you, with their snow-capped peaks towering over the horizon. Here you can explore many beautiful trails and mountaineering trails, as well as skiing in the higher echelons of the mountains.
7. Guiana Amazon National Park (Le Parc amazonien de Guyane)
Guiana Amazon National Park (Le Parc amazonien de Guyane)
The Guiana Amazon National Park. Gobay Sula Falls.
This vast national park, created to protect the Amazon rainforest in French Guiana, is one of the largest in the world, so there’s plenty to see and do.
The park’s undeveloped, unspoiled and therefore unspoiled, wild and free territory will not leave anyone indifferent. The dense rainforest is home to many animals and birds, not to mention the fauna that are abundant here absolutely everywhere. From the thicket, Mount Galbao rises sharply to the sky, and rivers flow between the endless trees. Canoeing on the water is an unforgettable experience, and one of the most popular places to visit is the spectacular Gobay Sula Falls. And that’s all under sixty-foot trees that, at times, hide the sky from you.
6. Parc national de la Vanoise
Parc national de la Vanoise. The first national park in France.
The Parc national de la Vanoise
The largest national park on the French mainland is a real wonder to visit because of its incredible scenery. Located in the French Alps, it is the heart of incredibly beautiful mountains that are the main attraction, and tourists, climbers and skiers will never want to leave its strikingly beautiful surroundings.
La Vanoise presents a typical image of the French Alps with commanding mountains, wide valleys and magnificent lakes that create perfect scenes. The panoramas and views are limitless, and among the clouds, the world below seems toyed with.
Grand Cass is the highest peak in the park, and the surrounding massif is fascinating.
5. Kalancha National Park
Parc Calanques National Park (Parc Calanques) in Marseille. France Parc Calanques National Park
This coastal park, located between Marseille and Cassis, offers a scenic, albeit slightly intimidating cliff walk that everyone will definitely enjoy. Following a sometimes treacherous path, you make your way among the rock-strewn terrain, where the cliff drops off to one side of you. The sparkling turquoise waters below only add to the already stunning scenery. The rugged white cliffs and craggy cliffs are covered with delightful tufts of greenery, and the vibrant colors make this part of the world delightful to explore.
Swimming along the mountain range of Kalanka, which gave the national park its name, is spectacular, and dolphins and turtles can be found in the sheltered waters.
4. Écrins National Park
Écrins National Park in France Écrins National Park
This huge national park is incredibly large with over a hundred mountain peaks and sixty lakes that reflect the mountains above them so beautifully. These upland realms, which are part of the Dauphin Alps, are centered around the Ekren Massif and form the bulk of the incredible scenery, and climbers and tourists will adore all that can be seen there.
The forested valleys and green mountain slopes eventually give way to rocky slopes in the snow. Breathtakingly beautiful, there are more than 700 kilometers of trails for visitors, and it’s also a great place for skiers, as there are a number of ski resorts that are always welcome to the most discerning winter recreationists.
3. Mercantour National Park
Mercantour National Park in France The Mercantour National Park
Seven hilly valleys, rustic villages, mountain peaks and more; Mercantour National Park certainly has a lot going for it. Fauna and flora abound, and marmots, ibex and chamois can be found among all the nature on display as you stroll the park’s many trails and paths.
Adventurous lovers can dare to hang-glide by throwing themselves off one of the steep cliffs in the park. History buffs, on the other hand, will want to head to the Vallee des Merveilles, where there are more than 36,000 cave paintings to admire endlessly. In addition to these sights, the Sea Alps provide an ever-changing and beautiful backdrop for the valleys and lakes embedded between them. Among all the natural wonders presented, the Gordolask Valley and the river flowing through it are particularly beautiful.
2. Le Parc national de la Guadeloupe
Le Parc national de la Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Le Parc national de la Guadeloupe
This point of biodiversity is interesting to visit because of all the amazing things to see and do here. Although it is certainly a trip far beyond mainland France! This national park, located in the Caribbean, is worth a visit if you have the chance, as the rainforests and spectacular mountain ranges are home to many mammals, birds and insects. A beautiful sight to behold, there are several mesmerizing waterfalls to discover among the dense and soaring undergrowth. For example, on the slopes of La Soufrière volcano are the Carbet Falls, a series of waterfalls that tumble into the vast depths of pristine tropical foliage that surrounds them on either side. The hike here is spectacular, and the sounds of the rainforest will echo in your ears long after you leave this earthly paradise.
1. Parc national de La Réunion
The Parc national de La Réunion on the island of the same name. Parc national de La Réunion
This idyllic island is an absolute dream and lucky tourists will never want to leave it, such is its natural beauty. This national park, located in the Indian Ocean, in the French overseas territory of La Réunion, has a volcanic landscape that is home to many ecosystems. Consequently, it is a biodiversity hotspot and popular with hikers and climbers because of the extensive trails and routes through the mountainous region.
Nature lovers will love this special place with its rainforests, magnificent waterfalls and rich variety of fauna and flora. The two volcanoes that make up the towering Piton de Nege and the imperious Piton de la Fournese are just two of the hundreds from which visitors can admire the spectacular scenery around them. It’s an incredible place.