Are you going on holiday to France? Perhaps you’d like to go hiking in France’s national parks? Here we give you facts & information about national & regional parks in France.
France has a total of six national parks constituting just less than 1% of the total surface area of mainland France. In comparison to other western European countries and considering its size as the third largest country in Europe, the national parks in France are all relatively small. The largest national park in France is less than 1000km². The creation of national parks as reserved and protected nature areas came relatively late in France; however today the government of France has issued strict directives pertaining to the maintenance of national parks in France. All hunting is banned in national parks allowing many endangered animals in France to flourish once again. Furthermore, all building and driving of motor vehicles in France’s national parks is prohibited and while camping is allowed, it is heavily regulated and only permitted in designated areas.
National Parks in France’s Mountains
Three of France’s national parks are located in the Alps which constitute one of Frances major mountain ranges. These national parks are Mercantour, Ecrins and Vanoise, all of which are popular with hikers and nature lovers especially during the summer months. France also has a national park in the Pyrenees mountain range located in the south west of France. This park stretches for 100 km along the border with Spain and is popular with rock climbing enthusiasts. The Cevennes national park is located in the centre of France between the Massif Central and Languedoc.
Marine National Park in France
France also has a marine national park on the Island of Port Cross located just off Cote d’Azur. This national park is a safe habitat for many of France’s marine wildlife species.
Regional Parks in France
There are approximately 36 regional parks scattered across France accounting for 7% of the surface area of France. Regional parks differ from national parks in that they are managed by private local groups and supposed to maintain local ecosystems while encouraging nature tourism. Most regional parks in France have been set up in areas that have diminishing populations and have been suffering economically. It is hoped that by providing activities such as camping, fishing and cycling that these regional parks can draw tourists and help boost the local economy. Corsica and the Massif Central are both home to regional parks in France