Every year they receive 9 million visitors and represent almost 10% of mainland France. With unspoiled nature and entertainment activities that respect the environment, national parks embody much of France’s identity. From the Pyrenees to the Alps, to Guyana and Guadeloupe, discover these 11 landmarks, some of the most beautiful in the world.
In France, there are 11 national parks, real “monuments” of nature, which are home to exciting wildlife. They are recognized worldwide as exceptional territories and unite different areas of land and sea.
They are united by the same goal: to limit the pressure on the natural environment, to encourage environmentally friendly behavior and to preserve the biodiversity and beauty of the park. National parks are governed by a charter, a real sustainable development project.
Because the free spaces are open to all, they are the perfect places to do your favorite activities in a protected, exciting environment: hiking, swimming, diving, paragliding and winter sports … no restrictions for adventure!
© Jrme / Adobe Stock – Vanoise Park was first established in 1963
11 national parks, 3 of which belong to the French overseas territories
- Vanoise National Park
Established in 1963, it is the oldest of France’s national parks. Located in Savoy, Vanoise boasts mountain peaks over 3,000 meters high and valleys that open onto wide passes. Its geological richness and wildlife are amazing. It is twinned with the Gran Paradiso National Park, with which it has a 14-kilometer border.
- Port Cross National Park
Also established in 1963, Port Cross is the oldest land and sea park in Europe. The islands of Porquerolle and Port Cross near Yer are two of his hearts. It is based on an exceptional historical heritage consisting of Roman remains, wreckage and about 20 military forts. Enjoy admiring its diverse species of underwater and birds.
- Pyrenees National Park
The third national park, which was established in 1967, acts as a climatic barrier between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean and stretches for more than 100 km along the Franco-Spanish border. It is distinguished by the fact that it is very green, with an abundance of lakes and waterfalls. You may encounter the Iberian ermine, a native species that disappeared a century before being re-introduced to France in 2014.
© IMAREVA / Adobe Stock – Orphan (3441 m) reflects on Lake Lawson in Acrens National Park (Hautes-Alpes)
Seven National Park
It is the largest French national park after the Amazon Park in Guyana – and in mainland France, it is the only mid-mountain national park and the only one inhabited all year round. In 1985, UNESCO designated it a biosphere reserve, and in 2011 the “agro-pastoral cultural landscapes of Kaus and Seven” were included in the World Heritage List. Here you can enjoy the starry sky and especially the beautiful night landscapes.
Ecrins National Park
Between the northern and southern Alps, Ecrine was recognized by the Council of Europe as a European park of high mountains: it has 150 peaks over 3,000 m high and about 10,000 hectares of glaciers! Its spaces of alpine pastures and valleys with strong identities (Valgaudemar, Briançon, Champsaur) soften the wild beauty of the massif, where hiking is especially popular.
Mercantour National Park
This park has an exceptional geographical position, on the border of France and Italy. From the Alps to the Mediterranean coast, there are peaks, mountain lakes, canyons and gorges, as well as hills planted with olive trees. A mosaic of diverse natural environments, it forms the Alpi Marittime Natural Park – Europe’s first park – with its Italian twin.
© bennymarty / Adobe Stock – In the heart of Guadeloupe National Park Carbet Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Lesser Antilles
Guadeloupe National Park(French only)
Guadeloupe National Park, founded on February 20, 1989, became the first park created abroad to protect the Basse Terre forest. At the heart of the Caribbean, it consists of rich and diverse ecosystems, ranging from seabeds and coral reefs to the summit of Soufriere Volcano and ending with rainforests. It is ideal for swimming, hiking and picnics.
Amazon Park of Guyana
This array of rainforests, which occupies 40% of the territory of French Guiana and borders the Brazilian National Park Tumukumak, is actually the largest national park in the European Union! It preserves one of the areas with the highest biodiversity on the planet and protects the cultural heritage of the Indians, Bushings and Creoles living in the area.
Reunion National Park
Established in 2007 to protect and strengthen the Upper Ocean, the national park on this French island in the Indian Ocean boasts 110 habitat types, ranging from the coast to dry or humid rainforests. The breathtaking scenery and the great biodiversity that make it up have offered it a great landmark: the Python de la Furnace, the craters and ramparts of the island have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2010.
© rochagneux / Adobe Stock – Between Port Miu and An-Wa Port Pin Port is part of the Kalanka National Park
Calanquez National Park
The 10th French national park, to be established in 2012, Kalanke is a place of honor in the heart of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence – and is the only national park in Europe, located on land, sea and suburbs. It combines extensive coastlines carved by streams, and one of the richest underwater canyons in the Mediterranean in terms of biodiversity. Its landscapes are a symbol of Mediterranean Provence.
National Forest Park
Located between Champagne and Burgundy, it is the newest national park in the French Crown, established on November 7, 2019. It is dedicated to the strengthening of the lowland deciduous forest, a representative of the limestone plateaus of northeastern France. 80% of the forests included in this park were already at the time of the French Revolution. Thanks to its huge water tower, the National Forest Park also plays an important role in preserving our most valuable commodity.