Exploring the coastal national parks: a week or more in Wow mode!

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s three coastal national parks all have plenty of surprises in store for nature lovers. Combining beaches, coves, gorgeous sea beds, limestone rocks, deltas, lagoons and arid garrigue, their rich biodiversity and varied biotopes are definitely worth taking your time over. Welcome to a wow ecotourism experience!

Get up to speed with Camargue culture

On the wild side

Welcome to the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, a gorgeous regional nature reserve home to infinite natural treasures. Start your stay with a visit to a local ranch (manade) before saddling up and riding off into the sunset – on a Camargue horse of course! Everything in this area of the Rhône Delta is geared towards the environment and its preservation. After your ride, a relaxing night in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer will get you in gear for the following day’s tour of Camargue’s fascinating wetlands, lagoons and marshes: the Marais du Vigueirat nature reserve is a conservation benchmark and absolute must-do.

Herons taking flight at sunset and high-stepping pink flamingos are a common sight here, so have your camera ready. Wind up your Camargue trip at the Musée de la Camargue to get a handle on this unique place and its deeply-entrenched – and sometimes surprising – traditions.

The Calanques fjords from top to bottom

Land and sea adventure

Europe’s first land and sea suburban national park was born in 2012! Dive into the heart of the stunning Calanques National Park on the 20 km footpath linking Marseille and Cassis. First stop: Château d’If. Brought to fame by Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel “The Count of Monte Cristo“, this fortress erected by François 1 is a resolute must-see. After your tour, get ready to open the doors to an enchanting world welcoming visitors from all over the globe outside the summer season, to better preserve its beauty…

The signposted footpaths running along the coast are lined with impressive limestone cliffs, intimate coves, verdant pine woods and sweet-scented Provencal garrigue. Slip on your mask and flippers to admire the sparkling sea beds in sporty mode. Alternatively, do it the easy way and hop onto a boat to savour in style. Last but by no means least, make sure you always select service providers who respect the park’s strict environmental regulations.

Plunging into the heart of Port-Cros

Paradise islands

The last stop on your Golden Triangle of Mediterranean coastal parks is the Port-Cros and Porquerolles National Park in the Var area, formed in 1963. This combined terrestrial and marine park consists of 4,200 acres of land (you’ll love hiking in the forests on Port-Cros island for example) and 7,200 acres of sea. Home to Roman remains, ancient wrecks and military forts, these fascinating islands are also hubs of winemaking and artisan fishing. The Port-Pothuau**** campsite in Hyères-les-Palmiers is strongly committed to the environment and offers guests a warm and friendly welcome.

During your stay, don’t forget to visit the neighbouring towns of La Croix-Valmer, Le Pradet, Ramatuelle and La Garde, now attached to the national park. Take time to visit the Jardin des Méditerranées at Domaine du Rayol and hop on a boat to Giens peninsula – the promise of wonderful memories to take back home…