Choosing a regional natural park is opting for a different destination where heritage preservation is a major objective. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region today has eight beautiful regional natural parks spread across mountains, coastline and hinterland. Each offer a unique ecotourism experience.
Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles
Discover A Timeless Jewel
The Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles charms in every season. Strolling when spring’s warm weather arrives, zigzagging between the vines at the beginning of autumn until the first harvest, discovering olive picking in winter: so many different facets that characterise the Alpilles. Gastronomy and characterful houses are the highlights in this most-charming region; a territory which invites wandering between the olive trees and the vines, holidays in the most beautiful villages of France, and delicacies as you criss-cross the markets. Landscapes of white limestone hills, green valleys and wetlands, and a fiercely-preserved culture, the Alpilles is all about easy living in a Provence that is both traditional and modern.
Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales
Bask in Beautiful Biodiversity
Straddling the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions, the park extends over a massif between Drôme and Hautes-Alpes. A land of delightful scents and flavours, here you will find Provence at its most fragrant, blooming with aromatic and medicinal plants. A mix of Provence and the Alps, the area is imbued with men and women who know how to get the best from it. This exceptional place of preserved nature is recognised for its rich terroir, its unique landscapes, its built and agricultural heritage as well as for its remarkable biodiversity. Here, stargazers have an amazing vantage point for admiring the stars. Windows to the sky, the Baronnies are among the regions of France and Europe best protected from light pollution!
Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue
Escape to Rugged Expanses
Once you have crossed the Rhône and immersed yourself in the natural surroundings of marshes, ponds and lagoons, you have arrived in the Camargue. Here, the modern world is distant; what remains are great natural expanses where horses, bulls, pink flamingoes, herons, boars and tortoises live freely… The Camargue, indeed, invites many wildlife and plantlife discoveries, coupled with leisure activities: swimming, horse rides, guided tours and traditional festivities. You might not know it, but the Camargue is an “island”: a unique island, attached to the mainland by a few slender slivers of land.
Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon
Feast on Flavours
The Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon is characterised by the diversity of its landscapes, the quality of its built heritage, the excellence of its agriculture, and the upholding of a traditional, vibrant rural culture. Here, the garrigue neighbors alpine meadows, oak woods and cedar forests. Dizzying canyons, caves or rocky crags are appealing to hikers. While the nature is rich, mankind is also very much present, having shaped these landscapes through hard work. Perched dry-stone villages, ochre quarries, earthenware, terraced fields, all evidence of a savoir-faire which begs to be explored. As for gourmets, a few words will suffice to convince you: truffle, wine, olive oil, candied fruits. The Luberon is a destination of thousands trips and thousands of flavours.
Parc naturel régional du Queyras
Marvel in the Mountains
The Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras opens its arms wide to everyone who dreams of nature, outdoor sports, authenticity and tranquillity. The Queyras, accessible by a single road in the winter or by two iconic passes, Col d’Izoard and Col Agnel, in summer, is home to an exceptional natural and cultural heritage. Chamois, marmots, golden eagles and iconic black grouse live here, sheltered from the urban world. Open to the west and bordering Italy, the park is made up of mountains, peaking at more than 3000 metres. Larches are ablaze in reds, oranges, and yellows in autumn and blanketed in snow in winter. Wood is, incidentally, an important economic resource for the region, used both in construction and for manufacturing furnitures and toys. Its remarkable architecture, differing from one valley to the next with notably the log cabins (fustes) of Molines in Saint-Véran and the farmhouses with arcades in Arvieux, make this a unique destination. Bewitching, the Queyras is one of the few forgotten paradises of the Alps.
Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur
Frolic in the Foothills
On the foothills of the mountains, between the Côte d’Azur and the high mountains, is a rich and varied area: the Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur. From the huge, moon-like karstic plateaux upon which herds of sheep graze to villages perched on rocky promontories and forest valleys where water has carved narrow passages, the Préalpes d’Azur offer many points of view of the Alps to the Mediterranean. This territory is laden with unsuspected treasures: exceptional biodiversity, a preserved pastoral activity, many caves and hundreds of kilometres of underground galleries, a cultural heritage marked by the Middle Ages and the opportunity to take part in many outdoor sports. A rich region with a fragile balance, the Préalpes d’Azur should be explored responsibly.
Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon
Explore the Gorges
The Verdon is without doubt the regional natural park of le Sud that offers the greatest diversity of landscapes and activities. The gorges, both high and low, are sublime and absolute musts for visitors, but the area offers many other attractions. The Valensole plateau with its great lavender and grain fields is an astonishing agricultural reserve. Along its steep roads, the Verdon is laden with many treasures: perched villages, huge lagoon-blue lakes like the Lac de Sainte-Croix, in the hills of the Haut-Var. Goat cheese, honey and truffles that pop up in early winter reflect the special taste of this terroir. You’ll appreciate the warm welcome by the inhabitants and the sun, which celebrates visitors in winter as in summer.
Parc Naturel Régional de la Sainte-Baume
Take a Pilgrimage
Located at the gateway of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Toulon, the Parc Naturel Régional de la Sainte-Baume is distinguished by the ideal climatic and ecological conditions that come from the Mediterranean and the Alps. Many hiking trails lead to Saint Mary Magdalene’s iconic Troglodyte church and the hilltops, offering breathtaking panoramic views over the Med and Provencal inland country all the way to the Alps and Ventoux. A prominent place of pilgrimage, spirituality and Christianity, the Sainte-Baume hills are an invitation to unwind and recharge your batteries in both summer and winter, and coveted by nature and history lovers alike.
Parc Naturel Régional du Mont-Ventoux
A natural giant standing guard over Provence
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s last-born regional nature reserve, nicknamed the “Giant of Provence” and easy to spot from afar thanks to its bare, limestone summit, is simply mesmerizing. A UNESCO biosphere, it offers outdoor sports and leisure fans an extraordinary playground. Thousands of cyclists defy its challenging slopes every year, determined to conquer its mythical crest. After crossing five levels of vegetation ranging from Mediterranean to Alpine, the arrival is truly magical, unveiling a lunar landscape carved by the Mistral wind and fabulous views spanning such awe-inspiring sights such as the Luberon, Sainte-Victoire mountain and, in fine weather, the Southern Mediterranean and Northern Alps.