Tree hugging is the latest natural healing trend. Originating from Japan, it sings the virtues of forest baths. Head out to explore our forests, discover our protected scenic treasures and… Hug a tree!
Biological reserves made to protect
An Alpine flower show…
It’s time to take to the road to explore the Écrins valleys! The Deslioures biological reserve was one of France’s first “Natura 2000” sites and rightly so: it is a jewel of biodiversity. If there’s one trail you really must see it’s this one – the flower meadows that await you are truly worth a bit of effort! As you head towards Vallon du Fournel, you’ll come face to face with the Chardons Bleus (Alpine Sea Holly) biological reserve. The best season to visit is summer: the blooms offer a breathtaking show in July and August!
Tribute to veteran trees
The ancient forests of Ventoux are vital for preserving the area’s biodiversity and the Ventoux biological reserve is home to rare clusters of veteran trees playing a key role in the environment. You can reach this haven of greenery by taking the Natura 2000 “Mont-Ventoux” trail. Roam the 2 faces of Mont Ventoux, nicknamed the “Giant of Provence“, laden with beech trees and soaring to high mountain passes. Nestling in the heart of the Verdon Regional Nature Reserve, the Aiguines beech forest is a fine example of our preserved natural beauty. The forest spans 1,980 acres and stretches up to the summit of the Margès and all the way down into the gorge. Watch your step: it is teeming with rare insect, bird and plant species, such as the Briançon plum tree! Used for its wood in days gone by, felling was banned over a century ago and today, this ancient forest is home to many wise old trees that stand guard over visitors…
Appreciate the perfume of the pine forests
From Queyras to Mercantour, as far as the eye can see
The Queyras conifer forests harbour species rarely found in France, such as the Alpine Stone Pine and Mountain Pine. In autumn, the fiery red and copper leaves of the larches are just one very good reason to enjoy a stroll here. Pause awhile to absorb the energy offered by these ancient trees. The 250,000-acre Mercantour area is mostly inhabited by conifers too. Immerse yourself in the forests of the Southern Alps with a walk among balsam firs… Remarkably scenic, the various forest walks are signposted so you can enjoy discovering the high-altitude woodlands without having to worry about getting lost. From Vallée de la Roya to Vallée de la Bébéra and the lower valley of Vésubie, breathe in the fragrant scents of pines, firs and spruces…
In the shade of Luberon cedar trees
Opt for the Petit Luberon for your next green escapade. Rising to 727 metres, this remarkable natural area is the perfect place for a stroll in wild countryside home to richly-diverse natural habitats. Listed as a sensitive natural area, the Natura 2000 zone is home to the Ménerbes, Lacoste and Bonnieux cedar forests. You’ll definitely want to venture onto the site’s nature trails such as Sentier du Portalas, dotted with information panels and rising to a pass set over Portalas Arch. Alternatively, the Chemin des Cèdres is a short walk in the underwoods in the heart of the forest. Part of the trail bears the Tourism & Handicap label, meaning all nature lovers get a chance to discover these preserved treasures.
National forests showing the way
From the Sainte-Baume to the Baronnies Provençales: remarkable natural sites
Fancy a breath of fresh air? Head to the Forêt Domaniale de la Méouge. This remarkable national forest is criss-crossed with fabulous walks along the leafy trails of Chabre mountain. It’s easy to get to as well thanks to the tarmacked forest road. The panoramic view from the top of the gorge is simply sublime and the orientation table will help you pinpoint your exact location. Forêt de la Vallée du Buëch is renowned for its heart-warming sunshine, while Laragne-Chabre is a coveted free flight hotspot.
In the Var area, Parc de la Sainte-Baume is an exceptional forest, where pilgrims from the world over come to roam. Its Mediterranean beech forest and varied habitats – from woodland to rocks, wetlands and underwoods – make it a truly remarkable walking venue, in the company of towering trees and tortuous trunks…
Shades of purple, green and blue in the Esterel hills
Discover the delights of Estérel national forest and revel in the pleasures of a stroll between land and sea… Rich in protected biodiversity, including eucalyptus trees, these hills offer striking contrasts of bright purple rocks, dark green trees and radiant blue Mediterranean waters. This fairyland to the North of Saint-Raphaël and Fréjus is a perfect choice for nature lovers who don’t mind a few steep paths. Formerly famed for its extraordinary cork oaks, Estérel forest is now protected all the way down to the shore… It is crossed by no less than three GR long-distance trails you can explore on foot, by bike or on horseback. Inquisitive minds will appreciate the guided tours hosted by the National Forest Commission, teaching you everything you need to know about this unique hill chain.