The raw 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 reflect the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage.
The Parc National des Écrins
Discover Diverse Landscapes
The second national park in France, 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 700 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 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 its unique character. Established in 1979, you can spot an abundance of very special fauna here, with its 58 species of mammals, including the seven wild hoofed animals of France and very rare Tengmalm’s owls from Siberia. There also is an array of very diverse flora: 2000 species of plants. This majestic, tranquil natural space is internationally known for the Vallée des Merveilles, which boasts more than 40,000 Bronze Age engravings.
The Parc National de Port-Cros et Porquerolles
Cavort Along the Coast
Established in 1963, the Parc National de Port-Cros is the oldest national park in France and Europe. Its core is formed by the island of the same name, the nearby Porquerolles, and their coastal fringe. Recently, the park’s scope has extended to the coastal communities of La Garde, Le Pradet, Hyères-les-Palmiers, La Croix-Valmer and Ramatuelle. With a rich and exceptional land and sea heritage that is perfect for natural recreation, the Parc National Port-Cros has a strong cultural identity. Here, fishermen and wine-growers continue their ancestral savoir-faire.
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 simulatenously terrestrial, marine and suburban. A 20-kilometre footpath linking Marseille to Cassis is the ideal way to explore 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.