Hiking and Biking and Camping in France

Chamonix Rhône-Alpes

The Parcs Nationaux or National Parks in France are a system of six parks throughout metropolitan France and three in the overseas departments which are maintained by the government agency, Parcs Nationaux de France.

Over 2 percent of the total area of France is under some substantive level of nature protection and the national parks draw over 7 million visitors every year.

Parcs Nationaux de France

Above: Chamonix below Mount Blanc in the Rhône-Alpes region

France has nearly 180,000 km (111,000 miles) of hiking and walking routes which are numbered and clearly designated by different colors. The GR or grande randonnée are long-distance trails marked with red and white lines.
grande randonnée hiking sign
The circular GR trails have have the same starting and stopping points and are indicated with red and yellow. The PR or promenade et randonnée are shorter walking path trails and have a single yellow line.

The Parcs Naturel Régional or PNRs were created by a decree in 1967 and the territory covered by each PNR is decided by the French Prime Minister taken from a report from the Minister for the Environment. It is re-examined every 10 years to maintain its renewable status.   Map

La Fédération des Parcs naturels régionaux de France

Certain areas such as the Pyrénées mountains, portions of the Loire Valley, Corsica, and Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the twenty-eight total in France.



Hiking in France

Bicycling in France

Camping in France

There are nearly eleven-thousand official campsites spread around France's diverse countryside. The Fédération Française de Camping et Caravaning, based at 78, rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris (01 42 72 84 08) is responsible for evaluating French campsites and publishes a comprehensive list which is updated every year. The new grade of Camping de Qualité has been introduced to denote a campsite with extremely high standards of privacy, cleanliness and service.

Campsites are graded from 1 to 4 stars. 3 and 4 star sites are usually spacious with plenty of amenities and electricity connections for a percentage of tents and caravans. With a 4 star campsite there may be hot showers, electrical hookups, a pool (perhaps even heated), shops, laundry, sports facilities, and possibly a restaurant. 1 and 2 star sites always have toilets, a public phone, and running water, but 1 star sites may only have cold water. Sometimes, it is also possible to rent caravans and chalets on French campsites.


Some campsites only accept visitors with a camping carnét (photo identification card). Carriers are available from the AA, RAC, and other clubs listed below. French campsites book-up very quickly during the peak tourism months of July and August, so it is advisable to reserve your site in advance. If you arrive late in the day with no reservation, you are more likely to get a site if you have no vehicle. Campsite offices tend to be open before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

For more information:
Association Touring Provence Mediterranee
CampingFrance
Fédération Française de Camping et Caravaning
MisterCamp