France is home to nine National Parks, two of which are located in Provence. Recognized by the French State for their exceptional biodiversity, landscapes and cultural heritage, they are governed by special regulations aimed at preserving their unique riches. Each park is divided into two areas: the park itself, subject to strict conservation rules and the park catchment area, which unites the surrounding towns around a sustainable development project.
Port-Cros National Park
Port-Cros National Park is Europe’s first combined land and sea national park, spanning 1,730 acres of land and 3,200 acres of sea. The islands of Port-Cros and Porquerolles feature strikingly-contrasted landscapes, with steep cliffs and narrow valleys lined with evergreen oaks. Budding botanists will be enthralled to come across sea lavender, needle-leaved broom, flowering cistus and tree heath. The islands are a paradise for bird lovers too, with no less than 175 bird species recorded on Port-Cros. If you enjoy snorkelling, the sea beds overflow with exotic fish, moray eels, conger eels and octopuses. A wonderful world to contemplate – and respect.
Calanques National Park
The Parc National des Calanques is the first European National Park spanning land, sea and suburban areas and the first metropolitan national park created since 1979. France’s 10th National Park is committed to enabling the public to admire, work and live sustainably, in harmony with nature and in respect of the local cultural identity. Its three-prong mission revolves around sustainable conservation and enhancement of the local natural and cultural heritage:
- Reconcile environmental conservation and human activities due to the proximity of Marseille, France’s 2nd-largest city
- Welcome and inform the public and enhance awareness
- Fight against land and sea pollution