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Natural Parks in France

View of a National Park © Paul Billiet

In France there are 5 national parks and 30 regional parks. The national parks, with the exception of the Cevennes, are not permanently inhabited. They are controlled by the state. The national parks have a central zone which has total protection from human activities. Walking and some fishing is permitted but there are no cars and no hunting. Around the central zone is a buffer zone where human activities such as farming are allowed but under strict control.

Map of Park © Paul Billiet

The regional parks in France are all inhabited and they are controlled locally. They must protect nature but they must also let human actives continue. This is not always easy as many of them are in beautiful parts of France where there is a lot of tourism. In general, the regional parks have been very successful and 16 more are being planned.

National Park

Date when it was set up

Area /ha

Vanoise 1965 125000
Pyrénees Occidental 1967 48000
Ecrins 1973 270000
Cévennes 1970 150000
Port-Cros 1963 1800

Port-Cros is the only marine national park. It is an island in the Mediterranean.

How does France compare with other parts of the world?

France has about 4,5% of its territory as protected nature reserves or parks.

Europe as whole has about 7%, whilst North America has 9% and the ex Soviet Union 1%

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© Paul Billiet, Shirley Burchill, Alan Damon and Deborah James 2014