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If you are going to France and just sampling cheeses and tasting wines, then you are missing out on the real treasure of the country. France is beyond just art and architecture, palaces and theatres. It’s time to wander into the wilderness of these elite and surreal national parks in France. Spot the Ibex and the Pyrenean brown bear, trek to the heights of lofty mountain peaks, and wade into refreshing streams while you’re here. The woody trails of France are calling you!

The Most Beautiful National Parks In France

Here are the ten best national parks located within France and a few miles away. Take your pick and backpack now!

1. Vanoise National Park

Vanoise National Park

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Located between the valleys of Tarentaise and Maurienne, Vanoise is the first French national park. It is also one of the most popular national parks in France. It was created out of a concern towards the disappearing Ibex whose number came down to 40 in 1963 but has now been restored to more than 2000. The park extends on to the Italian side of the border where it is called the Gran Paradiso National Park. The presence of Vanoise Massif makes it a paradise for hikes as well as for guided walks. One can also enjoy mountain biking and paragliding here.

Best time to visit: Year-round
Distance from Geneva: 172 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest airport – Lyon Saint-Exupéry and Geneva
  • By railway – Geneva railway station to Chambery-Challes-E
  • By road – Cabs on hire

Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read: With This New Hiking Trail In France, Here’s Yet Another Summer Adventure Lined Up For You!

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2. Port-Cros National Park

Port-Cros National Park

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This is the only Mediterranean marine park in France. It is established on the island of Port-Cros to the east of Toulon. To get there one can take the ferry which has a regular service from Saint-Pierre Marina. The Port-Cros offers two picturesque trails, the botanical and the underwater trail. Here one can explore the beautiful landscapes, the sandy beaches, the lush forests, shipwrecks, and the historic heritage of the Roman ruins. One of the noticeable forts that lure tourists here is the Moulin Fort. Another attraction is snorkeling that one can enjoy along the La Palud submarine trail.

Best time to visit: May to August
Distance from Hyères: 22.2 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Toulon–Hyères Airport
  • By Ferry – Transport Littoral Varois runs ferries from Hyères to Port-Cros

Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read: 11 National Parks In Australia For A Utopian Experience Into The Wild

3. Pyrénées National Park

Pyrénées National Park

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The Pyrénées National Park is along the border of France and Spain, extending to the south-west of Hautes-Pyrénées and to the south-east of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Other than sights of distinguished flora and fauna, this national park offers activities like hiking, skiing, and mountain climbing owing to its mountainous landscape. There are endless scenic walking, hiking, and cycling trails, out of the Cirque de Troumouse is the most exciting cycling climb. Another attraction of the Pyrénées is the little train which travels from the peak of La Sagette to Artouste Lake. And if you are lucky you might even spot the Pyrenean brown bear!

Best time to visit: Year-round
Distance from Pau: 48km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Pau Pyrénées Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station – The Lourdes train station and the Toulouse train station
  • By Road – Bla Bla Car

Timings: Monday-Friday 9 AM – 5 PM (Saturday-Sunday closed)

Suggested Read: Honeymoon In France: 10 Gorgeous Places That’ll Make You Wish Time Stood Still, Forever!

4. Cévennes National Park

Cévennes National Park

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Want to hike along the same trail as Robert Louis Stevenson in ‘Travels with a Donkey’? That definitely is the best-known hike in Cévennes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern France. The Cévennes National Park is a hiker’s heaven with around 5000 km of marked trails. For adventure seekers, the park offers activities like canoeing, kayaking, climbing, archery, and fishing, while in winters one can enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledging. Alongside the scenic beauty that this park offers, there are spectacular rock formations at the Chaos de Nimes-le-Vieux. On the way, one can also visit the dainty villages of La-Garde-Guerin and Le Pont-de-Montvert. The forests are covered in oaks, chestnuts, beeches, Scots pines, and birches. Birdwatchers can usually spot golden eagles, peregrine falcons, hen harriers, Montague’s harriers, and eagle owls in the park

Best time to visit: June-September
Distance from Montpellier: 165 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport
  • By Road – Bus from Montpellier station to Le Rey Camping

Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read: 11 Hostels In France That Are Perfect For A Backpacking Experience

5. Écrins National Park

Ecrins National Park new

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This second largest national park of France is a site of excursions, welcoming tourists and inviting educational initiatives. Located in south-eastern France, it was created in 1973 as a result of the efforts of mountaineers, naturalists, and forest workers. The remoteness of the park makes it a peaceful and tranquil locale. The sanctuary is adorned with rugged mountainous terrain, magnificent glaciers, lofty peaks like La Meije, scenic valleys, alpine pastures, and dense woodlands making it one of the best national parks in France. It is a sojourn of hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, and river runners in the summers, and during the winters, the popular activities it offers are snowshoeing, hut-to-hut ski touring, and mountaineering.

Best time to visit: June – September
Distance from Marseille: 190 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Marseille Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station -L’Argentière-les-Ecrins
  • By Road – Ligness Express and Ouibus


  • From 1st September to 30th June: 9 AM – 4 PM ( Closed on weekends and Wednesday)
  • From 1st July to 31st August: 10 AM – 6 PM


Suggested Read: 10 Best Beaches In France Epitomizing An Idyllic European Vacay

6. Mercantour National Park

Mercantour National Park

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Mercantour National Park, with its pool of biodiversity, is a haven for any nature lover. The park flaunts the rare Edelweiss blooming in the spring and the Martagon Lily amidst the Mediterranean olive trees, firs, spruces, Swiss pines, and larches. Mercantour is home to a species of about 50 Italian wolves. While one can easily spot a chamois or two, only the lucky ones will be able to catch glimpses of the ibex, ermine, and mouflon. Other than the hiking and biking in the densely forested valleys, one can enjoy rafting and kayaking in the Ubaye river. Other water sports to enjoy here are canyoning, windsurfing, and sailing. Don’t miss out on paragliding that will give you a 360° view of the park!

Best time to visit: Year-round
Distance from Nice: 55.2 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station – Roya Valley is accessible from Nice by train
  • By Road – Daily buses from Nice to Mercantour available


Suggested Read: 12 Museums In France Where You Get To Be A Part Of Its Glorious History

7. Guiana Amazonian Park

Guiana Amazonian Park

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Do you know France’s biggest national park is in South America? Located in French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America, it shares its border with the Brazilian Tumucumaque National Park and together they form the world’s biggest rainforest protected area. One can reach this land of lofty kapok trees by flight or pirogue. Another attraction here is the Mont Galbao which rises up to 700m in height. A sight to be not missed is the cascades of the Gobaya Soula. Other than this, there are safe signposted trails for hikers.

Best time to visit: August – December
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Saül Airport
  • By Ferry – crossing from Suriname at St Laurent du Maroni

Timings: Monday – Friday 7:30 AM – 5 PM (Weekends closed)

Suggested Read: 27 Incredibly Charming Places To Visit In France

8. Réunion National Park

Réunion National Park

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Looking for national parks in Paris, France? Though there aren’t any parks right inside Paris, you can now book a flight to the Réunion island nearby. Established in 2007 and a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site since 2010, this national park is located on the island of Réunion. It is home to the world’s two known volcanic mountains – the Piton des Neiges (which is now extinct), and the Piton de la Fournaise (amongst the most active). Réunion is home to rare endangered species like the Mascarene Petrel, the Réunion Cuckooshrike, Barau’s Petrel, and the Réunion Marsh Harrier. It’s an island of marvels with towering peaks and stunning cirques of Cilaos, Mafate, and Salazie. This park offers pretty trails and country walks to hikers so that they can enjoy its natural treasures in the best way possible.

Best time to visit: April – October
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Flights available from Paris, Lyon and Marseille and Toulouse

Timings: Monday-Saturday 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM (closed on Sundays)

Suggested Read: The 15 Most Picturesque French Villages You Should Visit Atleast Once In Your Life

9. Guadeloupe National Park

Guadeloupe National Park

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The Guadeloupe National Park is a prominent part of the France national parks map. It’s a marine protected area located in the Leeward islands of the eastern Caribbean region. The park has some pretty attractions like La Grande Soufrière, an active stratovolcano, and the cascading waterfalls of the Carbet. It is a haven for all hiking lovers who can go on exploring the pristine countryside. Another attraction here is the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve which is home to some amazing coastal fauna and is abundant in tropical fish.

Best time to visit: December – May
Distance from Pointe-à-Pitre: 22.4 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport
  • By Road – Rental Cars

Timings: Monday – Friday: 8 AM – 4 PM (weekends closed)

Suggested Read: 10 Best Ski Resorts In France

10. Calanques National Park

Calanques National Park

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Abundant in cultural heritage, rich biodiversity, and blissful landscapes, this park was established in 2012 and is located in southern France. Calanques encompasses in itself the terrestrial, the marine, and is the only national park to include urban spaces as well. The nature trails adorned with secret coves make it a treasure chest for hikers. Swimming, hiking, climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, and paddleboarding are amongst the few activities one can enjoy there. Don’t miss out on the prehistoric cave drawings that you won’t find anywhere else! Other than preserving natural and cultural sights, the park is working towards raising awareness among the public regarding water and land pollution.

Best time to visit: May – June
Distance from Marseille: 15.3 km
How to reach:

  • Nearest Airport – Marseille Provence Airport
  • Nearest Subway Station – Sainte-Marguerite Dromel

Timings: Open 24 hours

Further Read: 10 Extraordinary Things To Do During Your Summer Holidays In Europe

Now that you have a complete traveler’s guide to the national parks in France, backpack already! There is a refreshing treasure trove lying out there, just waiting for you to discover it! Indulge in thrilling adventures, go birdwatching, spot the rarest of wildlife, eat with the locals in dainty villages, and breathe the clean, crisp air of France. Enticed yet? Book your trip to France with TravelTriangle right away!

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Frequently Asked Questions About National Parks In France

Which is the largest forest in France?

The Landes forest is the largest forest in France.

Does France have a rainforest?

Yes, The Pond of the Monks, Les Rochers Uchon, and Selva de Barocaggio-Marghese.

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Category: Europe, France

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