France is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, known for its stunning cities, charming villages, and breathtaking nature. France is home to some of the tallest peaks on the continent, stunning valleys, and mesmerizing forests.
More than 30% of France is covered with forest, and this guide will walk you through all the best ones! From a stunning deciduous forest an hour outside Paris to one of the largest man-made forests in the world, here are all the most beautiful forests in France!
Mercantour National Park is a national park in southeastern France. It is situated in Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence regions, and it’s home to some of the country’s most beautiful forests.
The NP was created in the late 1970s, and since then it has one because of one of the most popular attractions in the country, with an average of 800,000 visitors annually. It’s also rated as one of the best NPs in Europe, so it’s definitely worth making the trip to it.
This NP spans an area of about 680 square kilometers, and it consists of seven valleys and an uninhabited central zone. Mercantour National Park also encompasses a peripheral zone with 28 villages, most of which are home to some spectacular architectural attractions.
The fascinating protected area is also home to the Mont Bego mountain, which boasts a summit at an impressive altitude of 2,872 meters. In addition to excellent hiking opportunities, the mountain also boasts some 37,000 petroglyphs that are estimated to date back to the Bronze Age. Visitors can also observe more than 2,000 species of plants and flowers throughout the forest, as well as a variety of animal species prancing around the area.
Tip: Grab a great forest caption for Instagram to give your images that extra push.
La Perche is a nature park in the Normandy region, just some 140 kilometers outside of Paris. It’s one of the best secret spots to escape the city crowds for anyone who wants to spend some time in the stunning rolling meadows of France.
The park is known for its gorgeous natural landscape that alternates between endless forests, meadows, and farmland. This is also one of the most popular parks in France for horseback riding since it is in the horse breeding country. The natural park boasts riding centers and horses, making it the ideal destination in the French countryside for all equestrians.
The best forests in this park are the Reno-Valdieu and Belleme forests, which are absolutely perfect for some casual hiking, mushroom picking, and just enjoying spectacular untouched nature.
Vanoise National Park is France’s first national park, established way back in 1963. It is in the Savoie region, and it’s home to the Vanoise Massif, which features more than 100 peaks that rise above 3,000 meters. The highest peak in the French part of the NP is Mont Pourri, at an impressive height of 3,779 meters.
The NP is particularly popular during winter, thanks to the many tall peaks that are pretty much a paradise for avid skiers. In between those towering mountains lie countless forests that are home to incredibly diverse flora and fauna.
Conifer trees are dominant in the forest, and the subspecies that visitors can expect to see here include firs, mountain pines, larches, Scots pines, and many others. Travelers can also discover many species of birds and mammals, including ibex, golden eagles, chamois, and more!
Luberon Regional Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with stunning diverse landscapes. The park’s highest peak is Mourre Negre, and it is possible to ascend it via multiple hiking trails that go through the forest. The Luberon massif is famous for tall summits, exciting hiking, and climbing opportunities, but also for the Aigue Brun river that divides the massif in half.
About half of the Luberon reserve is covered with forest, and each forest has its own ecosystem. Evergreen oaks, pines, and garrigue thrive at the lower altitudes that were once home to countless agricultural plots, while the higher altitudes mostly feature conifer trees. You can even discover cedars from Algeria in this region – they were planted in the 19th century on the Petit Luberon massif.
Fontainebleau Forest is a deciduous forest less than an hour’s drive away from Paris. This is one of the largest forests in France, spanning an area of 250 square kilometers. It’s designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and it is protected by several environmental and legal measures as one of the most important natural habitats in the country.
It’s worth noting that this enchanting forest is home to some 7,000 species of animals, 5,000 of which are insect species. It’s also a great place for birdwatching, walking, and the perfect natural area for those who just want to discover the peculiar geology of France. Fontainebleau is known for being home to some very weird rock formations that look like elephants, crocodiles, and even tortoises.
Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park is a protected area in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region that boasts wetlands, pine forest, and a beautiful oceanic coastline. This environment was mostly unpopulated throughout history due to the inland sea that left an infertile depression after receding. The public and the French government put in a lot of work to drain and reforest the area, in order to preserve this natural environment.
In other words, the Landes forest is a man-made forest and the largest of its kind in Western Europe. It boasts several river sources, as well as multiple tiny villages, and even a few towns. The sky-high trees absolutely dominate the skyline, while the thick woods provide a home to countless bird species that can be observed during any season.
With thousands of kilometers of hiking trails, cycle paths, and coastal trails, the Landes forest has the most potential for repeat visits. It’s impossible to explore more than a tiny fraction of the area on your first visit, and considering just how stunning this place is, we’re pretty sure you’ll plan your next trip while you’re still on your first walk in the Landes!
Cirque de Gavarnie is a cirque in the Pyrenees mountain range. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most incredible natural landscapes in entire France. The massive cirque has even been compared to the “Colosseum of nature” thanks to its impressive size and unique shape that makes it resemble an amphitheater.
This spectacular natural attraction is home to Europe’s second-highest waterfall, mesmerizing pine forests, and some of the most impressive natural attractions in France. With unique mountain passes and clefts between the cirque’s impressively tall peaks, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best natural sites worth visiting in this fascinating country.
Ecrins National Park is a national park in southeastern France known for its sky-high mountains, glacier valleys, and larch forest trees. The main goal of this national park is protection and preservation of the diverse flora and fauna, but also of the architectural heritage
The Ecrins Forest is home to numerous hiking trails which range in difficulty from super easy to extremely challenging. You get to choose between quick loops trails and exhausting multi-day hikes, and no matter which hikes you opt for, it’s certain that you will get to enjoy some spectacular scenery and breathtaking views.
Biodiversity, mesmerizing waterfalls, and the French Alps are just the highlights of this breathtakingly beautiful national park.
Pyrenees National Park is situated on the border between France and Spain, and it is one of the most-visited national parks in entire Europe. It’s located along the Pyrenees mountain range, and its main purpose is to protect the many valleys and caves in this area, as well as all the different animal species that have made it their habitat.
This national park boasts more than 70 different mammal species, which includes several threatened species. There are more than 124 plant species in this national park as well, 25 of which are endemic to this particular mountain range.
Pyrenees National Park is very popular for its towering mountains that offer excellent hiking and climbing. In fact, the highest peak in France is situated in this NP – it is Clot de la Hount at an impressive altitude of 3,289 meters. We’re obviously not counting Mont Blanc, since its ownership has long been disputed between Italy and France.
It’s also home to the Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests, which boast a milder climate than the rest of the national park, especially those that lie at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains. The higher elevations of the mountains are also forested, predominantly with silver fir, mountain pine trees, and European birch.
Forest of Compiègne is a large forest in the Picardy region of France, and perhaps the most historically important forest in Europe. It’s best-known as the site where the Armistice between Germany and the Allies was signed back in 1918, officially marking the end of World War I.
In addition to its historic significance, the beautiful forest is also known for its stunning landscape and many walking trails, which make the two-hour trip from Paris more than worth it.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.