French Regional parks

Several of our independent and guided walking and trekking holidays in France take place in regional parks (Parc Naturel Regional). So where are these parks and what are their significance?

There are currently 46 regional parks across France, representing 13% of its total area, of which 40 are in mainland France. The parks cover 3900 parishes. Our walking holidays take place in the alpine regional parks of Queyras and Vercors, whilst our walking holidays in the Massif Central take place in the regional parks of Auvergne (which includes the Puy de Dome and Cantal) and Ardeche. We also have a guided holiday that is partly in the Haut Jura park and an independent walking tour that takes in part of the Vosges regional Park. There are plans for a new park in the Drome Provencial, in a territory collectively known as the Baronnies - Baronnies Regional Park.

The French regional parks have been created to protect and enhance inhabited rural areas. To be designated a regional park, the countryside, the wildlife habitats and the historic and cultural heritage must be of great value, but where the equilibrium between development and protection is fragile. The park must also contain a large number of elements that are of national and international interest. The natural heritage could include a range of landscapes and habitats including coastal zones, upland and alpine zones and wetland areas. The important historic and cultural heritage could come from villages, historic monuments, traditions, agricultural and artisanal activities, local produce etc. The regions are identified on the basis of a zone with a fairly homogenous identity and heritage. Our walking holidays seek to let you experience this local identity to the full.

A park is created around a sustainable project that all the various parties have agreed to. Their mission is based around five elements:

The protection and management of the natural and cultural heritage

The sustainable planning and development of the region

Social and economic development that respects and improves the quality of life

To welcome, educate and inform the public about the park and its environment.

The Park contributes towards a program of research.

Part of the sustainable development and promotion of the park is orientated towards tourism and activities both sporting and cultural. Many of the parks help to promote sites and trails, making them ideal locations for our French walking holidays.

National Parks such as the Vanoise National Park in the Alps differ from the regional parks in that they are generally uninhabited zones of exceptional natural and wildlife importance. They are designated by the government and have strict regulations that protect and conserve these zones.

Below is a map showing a location of the 46 regional parks in France. The proposed park in the Baronnies is not identified on the map.

map of French regional parks in France for walking holidays


volcanoes in Auvergne regional park France for walking holiday

Cantal in Auvergne regional park guided and independent walking holidays

Baronnies Provence in south France will be designated a regional park in 2010

Ardeche regional park, France guided walks

Haut Jura regional Park French guided walking

Queyras regional park

Take a look at our destinations in France

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