The most beautiful national parks in France.
Are you going to France and don’t know which places to visit besides the well-known Paris and Provence? We can help you! If you want to find yourself among an extraordinary nature, to admire magnificent scenery and enjoy fresh and clean air, then the choice falls on the national parks and nature reserves of France. And it is not surprising at all, since they account for about 10% of the country and form one of the largest ecological zones. In this article we will talk about the most famous of them, why they are worth visiting and what you can see and learn there. There are nine in total, but the most beautiful and largest are Vanuaz, Camargue, Cevennes, Scandola and Ekren. Now we will introduce each of them in more detail.
The Vanoise National Park. Vanoise is located in the Alps south of Mont Blanc, right on the border with Italy and was founded way back in 1963. It is the first and main national park in France.
In the park you can find stone goats, which were the reason for the founding of the park, along with chamois. Also here you will find edelweiss, the most beautiful mountain flower in the world.
The nature and air of the park is hard to describe in words, this is not only snow-capped peaks and endless forests, but also beautiful waterfalls and landscapes of amazing beauty.
There are several ski resorts located around the park, which allows you to have fun and enjoy your time.
The park offers different types of accommodation with different prices, the details can be found on the park’s official website. Also, you can stay in hotels that are located nearby. The average cost of accommodation per night will be about $100.
Camargue Reserve . This reserve protects some of the most amazing places in France, in particular sea lagoons, river channels, lakes, marshes, and landscape forests. More than 30 different species of animals can be found here. Boars, hedgehogs, hares and rabbits, squirrels, weasels, ferrets and beavers are the most numerous in the park.
But the main treasure and pride of the reserve is the bird world, which has more than 300 species. This is the only place in all Europe where pink flamingos nest.
The coordinates of the reserve are 43°33′00″ N. 4°34′00″ E. It is located west of Provence. The park has a small settlement of 50 people, the locals are engaged in agriculture, fishing and tourism. It is possible to book a river cruise through the reserve. Its price starts at $900. The reserve’s official website provides more details about the rules of stay and the beauty of the local world.
Sevenna National Park . This national park is located in the Rhône River basin. The park’s coordinates are 44°24′ N. 4°01′ E. The French know how to protect nature, the park was founded with the goal – to limit the negative impact of tourism. This does not mean that entry is forbidden, it means that much effort has been invested in order to organize tourism of high quality and with certain rules for visiting. You can learn about them on the official website of the national park.
By the way, there are signs and placards everywhere in the park, which describe the rules and prohibitions. Failure to comply with them leads to a fine of about 1,500 euros.
The main motto of the park and what the management and the local population are asking for is to enjoy the nature of the park, breathe fully, but do not destroy the park, because it was created for you and to preserve the beauty of our planet. It is an amazing combination of natural and man-made, this is how humans should treat nature, to complement it, not destroy it.
Skandola National Park . It is located on the island of Corsica, which gives it a special charm. Also, it is part of the World Heritage of UNESCO. To get on its territory, you need a special pass, which can be made through the official website of the park. Otherwise, you can admire its beauty from the water.
Accordingly, the fauna is mainly represented by marine mammals, in particular seals and sea turtles. Another pride are the rare birds, about 10 species, namely ospreys, harriers, bluebirds, swifts, gulls, sea eagles and cormorants.
Tours to Corsica and related islands are not budget-friendly, costing about $1500.
Echren National Park . The park is located in the French Alps. It has about 100 peaks and 40 glaciers.
Majestic glaciers are undoubtedly the pride of the park, followed by plains and lakes, where you can meet the most famous local residents, such as chamois, alpine marmot and golden eagle.
In this park you can stay in the shelters, of which there are about 30 and enjoy hiking. The length of the trails is about 750 kilometers. On the official website of the park you can read all the details and book your visit.
Near all the parks there are tourist complexes and hotels where you can easily stay. For example, the cost of accommodation near the Vanoise National Park is about $100 per day.
All these national parks are designed and created in order to preserve, protect and increase the rare animals, birds and plants. Having been there, you will not only get a lot of positive emotions, but also improve your health, join the wildlife and get a unique opportunity to taste the real life of the rarest animals of our world.
The 13 most beautiful national parks in France that are worth visiting
France is surrounded by mountains, seas and the ocean, some regions have perpetual summer, while others have breezes and rain even in summer. Natural attractions of this country are well-known and popular. Mountain peaks and volcanoes, waterfalls and caves, rugged coastlines, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries attract as many tourists as history and culture. It is impossible to see all the natural wonders of France, but these 10 should be visited by everyone.
1. Ocres de Roussillon in Provence
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In the south of France, in Provence, there is the valley of the Luberon, in the center of which lies the town of Roussillon with houses of red, yellow, pink and orange. It is surrounded on all sides by red cliffs, which emerged in the 18th century, when there was the largest canyon for mining ochre in Europe. In the 20th century, the quarry became an ochre reserve (Sentier des Ocres),
A 40-minute hiking route through the Martian-inspired landscapes. It is advisable to visit the canyon in the morning or at sunset, when the ochre shines in hundreds of shades. You can get to the quarry by bus from Avignon or Aix-en-Provence, or by car on the A7, D900 or N100.
2. The Baye du Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy
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The bay of Mont Saint-Michel is considered to be the most beautiful in France and the island in the middle of the bay with the medieval abbey of the same name is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Twice a day in a flat bay there are the strongest tides in Europe. At low tide tourists walk to the island, see the abbey and watch as the water floods over 15 kilometers of the bay at breakneck speed. Mont Saint-Michel can be reached by car on the A11, A13 and A84, or by train or bus, which run regularly from Paris and Rennes.
The chalk cliffs of Etretat in Normandy
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The 200 kilometers of Atlantic coastline in the Normandy region of northern France is called the Alabaster Coast (Côté d’Albâtre) because of the white color of the coastal cliffs. The most beautiful rocky arches with cozy bays and huge cliffs are around the town of Etretat. In the 19th century Etretat was a very popular place among the Impressionist painters, its cliffs can be found in dozens of paintings by Claude Monet. Now the most popular rocks and cliffs are pedestrian paths with signposts. The best way to get to Etretta is by bus from Le Havre or Paris. Driving from Le Havre is along the D940, from Rouen along the A151 and A29, and from Paris along the A14 and A29.
4. The Dune du Pilat in Aquitaine
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The Dune du Pilat, located in Arcachon Bay in southwestern France, Aquitaine, is considered the largest sand dune in Europe. Its height is 108 meters, width – about 500 meters, and its length – more than 3 kilometers. On one side of the dune is surrounded by pine forest, while on the other side it is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. At the foot of the Pila, in the waters of Arcachon Bay there are dozens of oyster farms, so in restaurants near the dunes you can try great oysters and seafood at low prices. You can climb the crest of the dune using wooden stairs. The nearest large city is Bordeaux, from where there are buses and trains to the dune. The best time to visit the dune is before 11am, before the tourist buses arrive.
5. Gorge du Verdon in Provence
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The Verdon Gorge is the deepest in Europe. It is located in the Alpine foothills of the Provence region, about 50 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast. The Grand Canyon du Verdon is the most beautiful part of the gorge and lies between the villages of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Its depth is almost 700 meters, its length is 19 kilometers, and the distance between the banks is 1500 meters. The turquoise color of the Verdon river water seems especially bright against the background of light stone rocks. Through the Grand Canyon pass roads D71, D90 and D23, and there are more than ten hiking trails of varying difficulty and length. From Nice, the nearest large city, there is a bus to Verdon Canyon.
6. Parc de Camargue in Provence
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The Camargue is a nature park in the south of France, on the Mediterranean coast, near the city of Arles. The Camargue has a unique landscape: salt marshes, sea lagoons, reedy marshes and sandy islands, where pink flamingos, black bulls and wild white horses live, which are not found anywhere else in Europe. Horses and bulls can be found throughout the park, but pink flamingos live only on the territory of the Pont de Gau ornithological park. In addition to flamingos live there 260 other species of birds. Getting to the Camargue and moving around it is most convenient by car, but the park there are also several hiking trails. In summer, the Camargue is accessible by boat and mini-train from Saintes-Maries de la mer and buses from Arles and Montpellier.
7. Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne
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The Volcans Park in the Auvergne region, in the heart of southern France, is the largest nature reserve in the country. The park is home to 80 extinct volcanoes of various shapes, the tallest of which form the Chaîne des Puys mountain range: Puy-de-Dôme (1,465 m),
Puy de Sancy (1,886 m) and Puy Mary (1,783 m). These volcanoes, popular with tourists, are accessible by car on the A72, A71 and A89, or by shuttle from the train station of Clermont-Ferrand. Up to the empty craters of the volcanoes can be climbed on foot or on horseback. Between the main volcanoes and on the territory of the reserve there are biking and hiking trails.
8. Calanques de Piana in Corsica
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The Calanques de Piana are located in the Sacndola National Park Reserve in the Gulf of Porto on the island of Corsica and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The calanques are rock formations of pink granite that have taken bizarre shapes due to erosion. They form silent coves and caves in the rocks and rise as sharp peaks over 300 meters high. Pine and chestnut forests grow on their slopes, and the Mediterranean Sea washes around their foot. There are two ways to see these cliffs – to take a boat trip from Porto,
The boat trip along the most beautiful places or take one of the walking routes from Porto via Cargèse.
9. Mer de Glace in Chamonix in the Alps
Photo: @claudiu_sfetcu / Instagram.com
This glacier originates at Mount Mont Blanc in the Western Alps, on the border of France and Italy, and descends gently into the Chamonix valley. The glacier is constantly moving, for the year advancing on 90-120 meters. Its length – 13 kilometers, the area – 40 square kilometers, and it is the largest glacier in France. Already in the 19th century, tourists came to see him, and today everyone can see the glacier, not only from the railroad, which runs above it, but also from the inside. Inside the glacier is 200 meters thick cut a long tunnel, consisting of dozens of passages and caves with colorful lighting. There is also a mineral museum, lookout points, and hiking trails descending into the valley next to the glacier. The Montenvers station at the foot of the mountain can be reached by train, bus, or car, but only the old red train from 1908 runs up to the mouth of the glacier.
10. Grotte de l’Aven Armand in Occitania
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The Aven Arman Grotto is located on the Causse Méjan limestone plateau in the Occitania region of southwestern France. The grotto is famous for its largest stalagmites in the world – the height of some of them reaches 15-20 meters, and the highest – 30 meters. In total, there are more than 400 stalagmites in Aven Armand. Visitors can easily reach the stalagmites by taking a special funicular 50 meters down a tunnel into a brightly lit cave that is 110 meters long, 60 meters wide and 45 meters high. There are free tours of the grotto every hour, and the main stalagmites are illuminated in different colors. You can get to the grotto by bus from the town of Rodez,