Provence & Côte d'Azur: The Calanques become France's tenth national park
A piece of heaven on the Riviera
Marseille’s Calanques have finally received the recognition they deserve as a place of “outstanding natural beauty”. France now has its tenth national park, the first in six years, in the form of the crystal clear waters and looming white limestone cliffs of the Calanques region, nestled between Cassis and Marseille.
The Calanques stretch for over 20 kilometres along the coast between Marseille and Cassis and as well as being France’s tenth national park, the area is only the third national park in the world that exists on the fringes of a major city, after Sydney and Cape Town.
Dolphins and turtles are frequently seen in the beautiful region and anti-fishing laws have been set in place in up to ten per cent of the sea area. Following the announcement yesterday, Prime Minister François Fillon said that he would like at least 20 per cent of France’s coastlines, rivers and lakes to be protected by similar schemes by 2020.
The area is as rich in plant life and it is in wildlife, counting around 140 protected types of flora and fauna amongst the many plant species.
Home to an exceptional biodiversity, including France’s last remaining pair of Bonelli eagles, the new title of “national park” rewards decades of effort to protect the 30 peaceful inlets and their inhabitants.
The Calanques also house cave paintings to rival some of the oldest in Europe with work stretching back almost 30,000 years in a number of caves in the protected site.
For the moment, the relatively unknown area remains tranquil and rural, but tourism is expected to boom in the region as the Calanques receive more and more publicity.