The mineral and wild character of the Écrins, the peace of the Mercantour and the mesmerizing charm of Port-Cros and the Calanques. The four national parks in the Région Sud, known internationally as exceptional territories because of their abundant biodiversity, reflect the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage.
The Parc National des Écrins
Discover Diverse Landscapes
Created in 1973, the Parc National des Écrins, located between Gap, Grenoble and Briançon, is a jewel of nature in the raw. With 150 summits more than 3,000 metres high and its thousands of hectares of glaciers, it majestically asserts its incredibly diverse character. Pine forests, screes, snowfields, vertiginous rock walls, meadows and mountain pastures stretch over 750 kilometres of trails where no fewer than 2,500 plant species bloom. It is also a great playground for the very varied fauna it houses, including the iconic chamois and mountain goats. Finally, the Parc National des Écrins is a popular meeting point for hikers and mountaineers from around the world.
The Parc National du Mercantour
Soar Above the Sea
Linking the Southern Alps and the Côte d’Azur, the Parc national du Mercantour, backing onto the Italian border, provides a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the sea. Le Gélas, its highest peak at an altitude of 3143 metres, is only 50 kilometres from the Mediterranean. This unique sea-meets-mountain location gives the Parc National du Mercantour, established in 1979, its unique character. You can spot here an abundance of very specific fauna and flora, at the crossroads of climates : glacial relics like the rock ptarmigan and Mediterranean symbols like the olive tree or lavender fields on the same territory. With more than 11,000 species, the Parc National du Mercantour is a biodiversity hotspot. This majestic, tranquil natural space is internationally known for the Vallée des Merveilles and the Vallée de Fontanalba, which boast more than 40,000 Bronze Age engravings.
The Parc National de Port-Cros et Porquerolles
Cavort Along the Coast
Port-Cros, Porquerolles, Le Levant… The evocatively-named Golden Islands are an invitation on a voyage to exotic climes. With its secret coves, vast beaches of silver sand, dense forests and underwater meadows teeming with life, Port-Cros National Park, created in 1963, is heralded by divers the world over as a Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot. History lovers can enjoy exploring Greek and Roman remains here from ancient forts to mysterious shipwrecks, or following in the footsteps of Ulysses, Barbarossa, Vauban and, more recently, the 1945 Liberation troops. Port-Cros National Park boasts a strong cultural identity too, with many artisan fishermen and wine growers flying the flag of time-honoured traditions.
The Parc National des Calanques
Explore an Epic Coastline
Known around the world for its magnetic beauty and biodiversity, the Parc national des Calanques, the newest national park in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – founded in 2012, is the first European National Park which is urban. Both terrestrial and marine, you can access it either by boat or by walking since more than 140 km of trails allow you to visit this enchanting landscape of limestone cliffs, coves, archipelagoes, garrigues and pinewoods. Bastides and cabins (cabanons) peppered along the route complete this heavenly decor which has inspired literature, painting and cinema for decades.