France has no less than 11 national parks on its territory, but do you know what they contain? No, they are not just stretches of forest but acutally are a real gold mine for outdoor activities and discovering the local heritage!
Wells of wealth
First of all, what is a national park? Parks recognized nationally for being exceptional territories, in terms of their terrestrial and/or maritime heritage. These areas are subject to very specific management laws to preserve resources and wealth.
As mentioned before, there are 11 parks in total in France, including 3 overseas (French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Reunion Island). To show you all the wealth contained in the national parks, we decided to make you discover the Cévennes National Park, in the south of France.
The Cévennes National Park
First of all, it is the 2nd largest national park in the country after the one in French Guiana, bringing together 120 municipalities over 93.5 hectares of territory. The park is divided between the Occitanie and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions, in the departments of Ardèche, Gard and Lozère. It was created in 1970, designated as a biosphere reserve in 1985 and has 70% of its territory recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is known for its biodiversity, the park having recorded the presence of 2,410 animal species, and mainly because it welcomes many endangered birds of prey such as the famous golden eagle or the peregrine falcon. You will find many special hikes to be able to observe them.
You can't talk about a national park without bragging about its hikes. It's obviously a privileged field for conquering the mountains. Whether on foot, by mountain bikes or even on horseback, you have hundreds of proposals for hiking.
We have found you via the website dedicated to the Great Hikes (GR in French), which are official and marked trails (in red and yellow), this map showing all the routes of these last ones in France. You just have to zoom in on the Cévennes National Park and you will have access to the ones in the park. Not present on this map but also marked out in the parks (in yellow this time), you have walks of about a day (less than 25 km or 8h walking). These walks are generally shorter and easier than those present in the Great Hikes itineraries.
What else besides hiking?
Yes, parks are great for hiking, but not exclusively! Whether it's with your family or on your own, it's a gold mine for outdoor activities in general. Canoeing, mountain biking, archery, rock climbing, you won't get bored going through the park. There are offers for all ages and, above all, all year round. In addition to the activities, you will also have the opportunity to take part in many animations and events such as safaris, photo festivals, sports events or local festivals.
A protected site is also a source of culture and heritage. While travelling through the park's territory you will be able to discover many monuments and museums. You can visit the many castles and caves scattered throughout the park, the silk museum of St Hippolyte-du-Fort or the Gallo-Roman mausoleum of Lanuéjols.
The park is full of activities and, of course, we haven't told you about everything, too much information all of a sudden it never brings anything. On the other hand, if you are interested in going on a little trip in the park, we recommend you take a look at this map. It regroups a large part of the activities, animations, accommodations, etc. grouped on the territory of the park, and it’s updated quite regularly!
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