The current ten French National Parks cover 54 409km² of unspoiled nature. On ground or at sea, these places are protecting the environment, biodiversity but also the local culture. In addition to this parks, you will also find regional protected areas, the Parcs Naturels Régionaux. This parks covers 15% of the french territory and are absolutely beautiful to.

I wish to present you a sum up of this wonderful places and I hope, giving you the envy to visit them.

  • Creation : 23 March 1973
  • Area : 92 000ha
  • Environment : Mountains
  • Wildlife : Wolf, Mountain Goats, Marmot, Vulture, Eagle ...
  • Bivouac : Allowes from 7pm to 9am if you are 1h far from the limits of the park
  • Main hikes : GR54, Tour Muzelle-Lauvitel, Tour du Vieux Chaillol, a lot of small hike and a paradise for Mountaineering
  • Link :

Amazing jewel of the Alps, the Ecrins Nat. Park hosts some of the most beautiful landscapes of France. Nature is rich as the human culture. The choice among hiking paths, mountaineering routes or any other outdoor sport are almost infinite.

I strongly advice you to discover the GR54 hiking path which make you discovering most of the landscapes and places of the park along its 10 days of wild trekking.

  • Creation : 18 August 1979
  • Area : 68 000ha
  • Environment : Mountain
  • Wildlife : Wolf, Mountain Goats, Marmot, birdlife,...
  • Bivouac : Allowed from 7pm to 9am if you are a 1h far from the park boundaries
  • Main hikes : GR5, Grande Traversée du Mercantour, Vallée de Merveilles
  • Link :

Mercantour is the kingdom of the Wolves in France. It is also well know for its prehistoric engraving in “La Vallée des Merveilles”. At the Italian border, the park offers a lot of hiking paths. The biodiversity is rich with 58 species of mammals and 2000 species of plant. Mercantour is a beautiful place to discover.

  • Creation : 6 July 1963
  • Area : 53 300ha
  • Environment : Mountains
  • Wildlife : Mountain Goats, marmot, birdlife, ...
  • Bivouac : forbidden in the park except close to the refuges of la Dent Parrachée, du Carro, de la Glière, du Col du Palet, de la Valette, des Lacs Merlets, de l'Arpont, du Fond des Fours
  • Main hiking path : GR®5, Via Alpina, Tour de la Grande Casse, Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise
  • Link :

If you want to see wildlife you must go to la Vanoise. The Via Alpina and the GR5 offers very beautiful path to long hike. If you wish to day hike you will also find plenty of possibilities. This park is a heaven to walk and all the refuge it owns will allow you to hike lightly.

  • Creation : 2 September 1970
  • Area : 93 500ha
  • Environment : Mediterranean pastoralism
  • Wildlife : Otter, beavern, stag, eagle, ...
  • Bivouac : Allowed from 7pm to 9am an hour far from the park's boundaries
  • Main hikes : Chemin de Stevenson, le Chemin Urbain V, Chemin de Guilhem,...
  • Link :

Biggest park of metropolitan France, Cévennes offers beautiful landscapes. The well-known “Chemin e Stevenson” will bring you toward forests, plains and lonely tableland.

The Pyrenean mountain range and its 450km offers a wonderful playground if you like hiking and trekking. The most courageous will leave for 40 days from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea along the GR10 or the Pyrenean High Route. The National Park is located at the heart of the range, this is a perfect place to watch wildlife.

  • Creation : 18 Avril 2012
  • Area : 43500ha
  • Environment : Sea and littoral
  • Wildlife : Seabirds, Aquatic wildlife as dolphins, whales,...
  • Bivouac : Forbidden
  • Main hikes : GR51
  • Link :

The Calanques National Park is an awesome place close to Marseille. It takes 30min to reach it by bus from the city center and here you are on absolutely magnificent coves with unreal blue water. There are many hikes to do there. If you like climbing it will be paradise for you as there are many many routes accessible almost all year.

  • Creation : 14 Décembre 1963
  • Area : 2950ha seaside + 1671ha on ground
  • Environment : Sea and Littoral
  • Wildlife : Dolphin, Whales, Sperm-whales, ...
  • Bivouac : Forbidden
  • Main activities : hiking, diving, snorkeling
  • Link :

A foot on water, the other one on ground, the National Park of Port-Cros is sitting on the south of France sunlight. You can discover this park on foot or on water the both offering wonderful beauty.

  • Creation : 5 March 2007
  • Area : 105 447ha
  • Environment : Plains, Mountains, Volcanism
  • Wildlife : Mainly local birds
  • Bivouac : Tolerated
  • Main hikes : GR-R1, GR-R2, GR-R3, Climbinf of the Piton des Neiges, Hiking in the Piton de la Fournaire caldera, a LOT of short hikes.
  • Link :

Réunion Island is an amazing playground ! Just speaking about hiking, there are kilometers and kilometers of path, enough to hike during a lifespan. The GR-R2 hiking path is one of the most beautiful because it crosses most of the Reunion’s landscapes and climates. The visit of Mafate “Circus” is amazing. You can also easily climb on top of the Indian Ocean with the ascension on the Piton des Neiges and its 3070m. In addition to hiking, you can practice almost all the outdoor sports there and La Réunion has also a very rich culture. If you don’t know this island you really should visit it you will be enchanted.

  • Creation : 27 February 2007
  • Area : 2 millions d'ha !
  • Environment : Tropical forest
  • Wildlife : Jaguar, Giant otter, snakes...
  • Bivouac : Forbidden
  • Link :

With its 2 millions hectares of area, the Amazonian Park of French Guyana is the biggest park in France. Proctecting a huge area with an amazing biodiversity, the park is only accessible by plan or by boat. One of the main mission of this place is to fight against illegal gold extraction. The park is also protecting human cultures as the Teko, the Wayapi or the Apalaï.

  • Creation : 20 February 1989
  • Area : 3300ha seaside et 18800 ha on ground
  • Environment : marine and tropical forest
  • Wildlife : mongoose, dolphins, sperm-whale, turtles,...
  • Bivouac : Allow an hour far from the park boudaries
  • Main hikes : GR G1, Climbing of the Soufrière Volcano, ...
  • Link :

The National Park of Guadeloupe is a marine park and a ground one. It has a strong endemic population on both sides. Hiking in this park will make you discovering volcanism but also tropical forest.

  • Creation : 16 october 1970
  • Area : 206 208ha
  • Environement : Tableland, forest, pastoralism
  • Wildlife : Mountain goats, wolf, stag,...
  • Bivouac : Allowed from 5pm to 9pm
  • Main hikes : Grande Traversée du Vercors (été ou hiver)
  • Link :

The Hauts Plateaux du Vercors are an exceptional place. I had the chance to discover them on the occasion of my Traversée du Vercors. The isolation and the beauty of the landscapes accompany the walker. Water is a rare commodity that needs to be learned to manage and save. Place of French  resistance during WWII you will find some traces of this sad past. The small towns of Corrençon-en-Vercors and Villard de Lans are quite nice in any case and represent a good base camp if you want to hike in summer and winter.

  • Creation : 31 January 1977
  • Area : 61474ha
  • Environment : Mountains
  • Wildlife : Mountain goat, ibex, wolf, Marmot, raptors...
  • Bivouac : allowed from sunset to dawn
  • Main hike : Tour du Queyras GR58
  • Link :

The Queyras is a beautiful park on the Italian border. Its location makes it less popular than others and that’s good! Few people are met on the paths and one can enjoy the surrounding nature. The GR58 will take you around the massif and you will discover the main landscapes that can be found there.

  • Creation : 12 May 1972
  • Area : 375 000ha
  • Environment : Mountains and littoral
  • Wildlife: Ibex, wild pig, Donkey, fox,...
  • Bivouac : Allow from sunset to sunrise expect along the GR20 (allowed close to some refuges - not free)
  • Main hikes : GR20, Mare a mare, Mare è Monti,...
  • Link :

The Island of beauty is aptly named! The mountains feet in the water, an exceptional place for hiking. The legendary GR20 is the most worthy representative, but in high season it’s a bit of a highway. There are, of course, many other paths to explore in order to discover this beautiful country with rich culture and heritage.

  • Creation : 16 October 1970
  • Area : 290 000ha
  • Environment : Plains, Forests, lakes
  • Wildlife : Cervidae, Fox, Wild boar, Hermine, Otter, ...
  • Bivouac : allowed (to be confirmed)
  • Main hikes : GR13, GRP
  • Link :

The Morvan is an area rich but fragile. This granite massif is covered with groves, forests but also with a vast aquatic system. Hiking can discover this beautiful region through the crossing of the Morvan (GR13) from Vézelay to Autun. A region to discover just 2h30 from Paris.

  • Creation : 3 March 1997
  • Area : 188 000ha
  • Environment: Pastoral, Agricultural, Foresters, Canyon
  • Wildlife : Chamois, Vulture, Deer, Wild boar
  • Bivouac : Wild camping prohibited in the Canyons - no details on the bivouac (inquire with the park house)
  • Main hikes : Sentier de l'Imbut, GR4
  • Link :

The Verdon is well known for its canyon. High place for kayaking and climbing, summer attendance is sometimes difficult to reconcile with the preservation of the environment. Still, these canyons, the highest in Europe, are beautiful and are worth visiting. But the Verdon is also the Plateau du Valensole, the Artuby, the hills of Haut Var, … as many diverse landscapes to discover and explore on foot.

  • Creation : 28 March 2012
  • Area : 88 900ha
  • Environment : Buttress of the Alps, Provençal
  • Wildlife : Chamois, Marmot, ...
  • Bivouac : Bivouac tolerated from sunset to sunrise (with agreement of the landlord)
  • Main hikes : GR4, GR51, GR510
  • Link :

Halfway between sea and mountains, the Regional Natural Park of the Alps is located in the foothills of the Alps. We will find in the landscapes and wildlife, mountain and Mediterranean influences. The flora is of an extreme diversity so that one finds on this territory a third of the French flora. You will be able to discover the Park thanks to beautiful GR like the GR4. Speleology enthusiasts will not be left out because the Prealps hide 140km of accessible underground galleries.

  • Creation : 30 September 1969
  • Area : 125 000ha
  • Environment:Littoral, Islands, plains
  • Wildlife : a lot of birds
  • Bivouac : Forbidden almost everywhere
  • Main hikes : Tour des Monts d'Arrée, Sentier des Douaniers
  • Link :

Second Natural Park to have been created in France, the Regional Natural Park of Armorique offers a surprising diversity of landscapes. Indeed the park covers the islands of the Iroise Sea (Ouessant, Molène, …), the Crozon Peninsula and the Arrée Mountains. You will discover coastal environments typical of Bretagne but also the remains of an old mountain chain so the summit culminates at 385m nowadays with Roc’h Ruz. The “Customs Route” – le Chemin des Douaniers (GR34) will take you to the nearest coastal strip. For my part I have a particular affection for the surroundings of Camaret and its superb cliffs.

For more informations, you will find below the link to the excellent website of the French National Parks. There you can have more details about the places, the missions of the parks, … :

The National Parks are environmental and cutural jewels to protect. Please be extremly careful to take care of these places. Here, some basic rules to apply in most of them :

Map of the French National Parks and a selection of  Regional Parks