Occitanie is home to 8 regional nature parks, 2 national parks (Pyrenees National Park, Cévennes National Park) and 1 marine park (Gulf of Lion marine park). These protected sites cover over a third of the region.
Aubrac is like being drenched in light, touching the sky and swimming through the grass. Aubrac Regional Nature Park unfurls its endless pastures around Laguiole, Nasbinals, Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac and Aubrac itself. Forget about the red carpet; this is a green carpet leafy with forests of beech and fir trees, glittering lakes, shepherd's huts and Aubrac's very own cattle.
Wild flowers flourish in spring. Pilgrims hit the Chemin du Puy in summer. Stags rut in autumn. Winter is crisp and magical.
In Aubrac: try aligot (cheesy mash), buy a Laguiole knife, find out how AOC Laguiole cheese is made, watch Aubrac cattle move to and from their summer pastures, go snowshoeing in winter.
Experience a slice of paradise beneath the clearest night sky in France! Let's visit Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park This UNESCO World Geopark is packed with incredible history. Caves and chasms have been carved out by water. Above ground is a whole host of cliffs, limestone plateaus sculpted by the Lot and Célé Valleys, grass mowed by flocks of sheep and peppered with beautiful houses.
From prehistoric caves and cazelles (shepherd's huts) to megaliths and the medieval towns of Rocamadour and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, every step is magical. How about a cruise on the Lot to experience one of France's most beautiful rivers?
Its sheer size (91,500ha) makes Cévennes National Park the biggest of France's 7 national parks.
The Cévennes valleys, granite peaks of Mont Lozère, Bougès, Aigoual and Lingas, sprawling karst Causses plateaus and more: the myriad landscapes in the Cévennes are well worth the protection granted by their National Park status. It was founded in 1970 and is home to 11,000 species (including 2250 flowers) and fantastic wildlife including endangered birds of prey.
The National Park's educational trails and museums shed new light on your walks and bring you fabulous scenery.
In Aveyron, the Grands Causses Regional Nature Park covers the Millau area, Causse du Larzac, Causse Noir, Dourbie Gorges, Roquefort area, Tarn Gorges and Tarn Valley, Rougier de Camarès nature reserve, Causse de Séverac and Lévézou Lake.
The Causses are vast limestone plateaus that create spectacular contrasts with the gorges carved by the rivers below. You'll meet flocks of ewes whose milk is used to make Roquefort. The Larzac plateau is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage for its agropastoralism (part of the Causses et Cévennes).
In the Grands Causses: visit the templar towns of Larzac, try Roquefort cheese and Millau cherries, canoe through the Dourbie Gorges, gaze at the vultures in the Jonte Gorges, swim in the Lévézou lakes.
The rolling Haut-Languedoc regional nature park straddles the Hérault and Tarn. It stands on the Massif Central's foothills and gazes out to the Mediterranean in the distance. Soak up nature in all its glory in this leafy land.
Experience 7 landscapes peppered with traditional Occitan villages: the Caroux-Espinouse mountain range with its heaths and gorges, Black Mountains and their dense forests, the lake plateau, Lacaune Mountains and the Sidobre's granite blocks.
In Haut-Languedoc: watch the bighorn sheep in the Caroux mountains, gaze at the Sidobre's giant rocks, ride on the Passa Païs bike path, climb up Pic de Nore, visit the pretty villages in the Orb Gorges etc.
The park covers 45,000ha of forests, pastures, peaks, glaciers, lakes, streams, cirques and valleys bursting with nature. The trees here are hundreds of years old whilst the local wildlife quietly thrives: ptarmigans, desmans, marmots, bearded vultures, wood grouse, Pyrenean chamois, griffon vultures, golden eagles and more.
Please abide by the rules displayed at the entrance to help protect the site. To really get to grips with the Pyrenees National Park, join the rangers for get-togethers and hikes in summer.
Deep in the Pyrenees and due south of Toulouse, Ariège Pyrenees Regional Nature Park blossoms around Foix and Saint-Girons. It has countless staggering vistas of the peaks that pop up between Ariège, Spain and Andorra. It has also joined the nature parks across the border to form the Pyrenees Three Nations Park making it one of the biggest protected cross-border areas in Europe!
The natural heritage, prehistory and pastoral legacy in Ariège Pyrenees Regional Nature Park will blow you away. Niaux and Mas d’Azil Caves, Ars waterfall, Goutets shepherd's hamlet, bustling outdoor markets in summer and winter are just a few of the local highlights. Not forgetting its 1800 species of flowers!
Let's head to the Catalan peaks on the border between Spain and Andorra. The Catalan Pyrenees Regional Nature Park stands at an altitude between 300 and 3000m to bring you the Capcir, Cerdanya and Conflent's breath-taking landscapes.
The record sunshine warms up the mountain climate. The Park is home to 240 protected species and staggering history with churches, abbeys and citadels fortified by Vauban including Mont Louis and Villefranche-de-Conflent.
This nature park deep in the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales is surrounded by Perpignan, Narbonne and Carcassonne. The land is rural, beautiful, packed with biodiversity and a stone's throw from the sea.
This park is on the cusp of the Iberian and Eurasian Plates and its outstanding complex geology has produced landscapes bursting with personality: the Mediterranean Hautes Corbières, hillside vineyards, gorges, cliffs, ridges, the leafy Pyrenean foothills and more.
It's home to famous vineyards (i.e. around Maury, Agly Valley), a wide variety of flora and fauna, an outstanding cave network and more.
The Corbières-Fenouillèdes Nature Park has lots of history behind it and is home to the Cathar Country's most iconic châteaux: Puilaurens, Peyrepertuse, Quéribus, Termes and Aguilar.
The Gulf of Lion Marine Park is the 3rd biggest marine nature park in France and lies off the coast of Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales. It runs along the coast from Leucate to Cerbère on the Spanish border. The Marine Park encloses the Cerbères-Banyuls marine nature reserve (12,000 species of animal and 500 species of plant) that you can visit on the Banyuls underwater trail.
Dive into the park with the fantastic guides among the many scuba diving professionals in the Marine Park area. If you'd rather stay dry then set sail on a fishing boat from Port-Vendres and drink in the Côte Vermeille. A dolphin may even sidle up alongside...
This is one of the last major protected nature sites of this size on the edge of the Mediterranean. Narbonnaise Regional Nature Park stretches along the beaches to La Clape mountain range and Leucate plateau up to the Fontfroide and Corbières Maritimes peaks. Its lagoon belt is a treasure trove of gems for you to uncover. Drink in the aromas and colours of the garrigues, pine and holly oak forests, vineyards, reed beds and salt marshes during your break.
Narbonnaise Nature Park brings you a relaxing way to explore the area (footpaths, nature and heritage tours, eco-friendly accommodation, birdwatching and more). Hikers of all abilities can explore the area and villages on 200km of footpaths with 30 loops and 2 GR hiking trails.
Explore the wineries on the La Clape mountain range, cross the Peyriac-de-Mer lagoon on the decked path, gaze at the sea from the top of the Leucate cliffs, visit Fontfroide Abbey and more.