Parc National des Calanques

Top choice national park in Les Calanques

Image by Mykolastock Shutterstock

The calanques (coves) of the coast surrounding Marseille became France's 10th national park in 2012, preserving their astonishing beauty and harbouring an extraordinary wealth of flora and fauna: including 900 plant species, Bonelli’s eagle, Europe’s largest lizard (the 60cm eyed lizard) and its longest snake (the 2m Montpellier snake). All told the park measures around 515 sq km, 85km of which is terrestrial, while the remainder extends into the Mediterranean. Don't neglect the watery bits if you have the chance.

The park brings together imposing uplands (the Massif de Calanques, which reaches 565m at Mont Puget), coves plunging narrowly to almost-inaccessible fishing towns and swimming spots, and endless kilometres of fantastic, scenic hiking.