Number of national parks in France 1963-2020

As of 2020, there were eleven national parks in France. The first National Park, officially founded on July 6, 1963, was the Vanoise National Park in the French Alps, while the largest national park in France was the Guyana National Park. In 2019, the central zone of the national park stretched over 53,000 hectares.

The National Park, a long legislative process

The inauguration of the first French national park is somewhat late compared to the United States. Indeed, the country promulgated Yellowstone as a national park in 1873, which in 2019 welcomed over 4 million visitors. Nevertheless, in France, the notion of a national park first emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. It was initially in its former colonies that France wanted to legislate the protection of certain natural areas: first in Algeria, then in Tunisia and Madagascar. On the metropolitan soil, while many ideas grew in the first half of the century, it was only in 1960 that actual legislation was implemented to protect these natural sanctuaries. This law and its application allowed the creation of seven national parks: the Vanoise National Park in 1963, then Port-Cros a couple of months later, the Pyrenees in 1967, the Cévennes in 1970, the Ecrins in 1973, the Mercantour in 1979, and Guadeloupe in 1989.
In 2006, a modernization of the initial law aimed to redefine the goals of the national parks, so they could be more in line with the timeless aspirations of France and the concerns of the local populations. Three national parks have since been created: La Réunion in 2007, the Calanques in 2012, and the Parc national des forêts in 2019.

Hiking, a tool to encourage the discovery of French nature

French national parks have ten main missions. These center around heritage protection, the sustainable development of regions, and offering the public a quality welcome to raise awareness of nature conservation issues.
French people, sensitive to environmental issues, have widely adopted the practice of hiking during their holidays. Indeed, for the 2020 summer vacations, 64 percent of French people declared wanting to hike or walk. Very popular in France, the Grande Randonnée (GR) trails allow people to discover the country's natural wealth through hiking. In 2020, the population's favorite GR was the GR21, along the Normandy coast.

Number of national parks in France from 1963 to 2020

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Release date

November 2020



Survey time period

1963 to 2020

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Statistics on "Hiking in France"

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