Far from the madding crowd, an increasing number of international tourists are seeking an authentic, responsible holiday, bringing them closer to nature.
They are looking for alternate means of transport, and are happy to take their time to discover the diversity of France’s regions and to meet and mingle with the locals.
- Diversity of France’s countryside, adding to the quality and importance of ecotourism circuits;
- 80% of France remains rural: a veritable natural asset;
- Numerous forms of tourism are centred on “soft” itineraries (cycling, hiking or on horseback), privileging accommodation in close proximity with the nature and local populations.
- More than 10,000 km of cycleways and green-ways (up to 21,000 km of itineraries by 2020).
- 65,000 km of long-distance hiking trails and 115,000 km of walking and hiking tracks.
- 2,500 establishments and associations catering for equestrian tourism and 350 centres officially recognised by the French Equestrian Federation.
10 NATIONAL PARKS
Recognised on an international level as territories of exception, France’s national parks embody excellence in the preservation of biodiversity. They offer a combination of outstanding land and sea areas and constitute spaces that bring together exceptional natural, cultural and landscape heritage.
The Mercantour national park owes the diversity of its landscapes and the richness of its natural and cultural heritage to its unique geographic location, at the crossroads of the Ligurian influences: alpine, Mediterranean and Provencal. The territory of the national park, which runs from its landlocked valleys to the metropolis of Nice, boasts nearly 8,200 living species.
National parks (la Vanoise, Port-Cros, the Pyrénées, the Cévennes, the Ecrins, the Mercantour, Guadeloupe, Reunion Island, Guyana and the Calanques) cover varied land and sea areas and represent almost 9.5% of French territory (60,728 km2). Every year, they attract more than 8.5 million visitors.
“LOIRE À VÉLO”: A 800KM FREEWHEELING CRUISE
“Loire à Vélo” is a unique, already much- travelled itinerary. Highly accessible and easy to ride, it alternates between quiet roads, green ways, no-thoroughfare lanes, cycle tracks and paths that overall include 300 stopping places for cycle tourists.
Loire à Vélo takes the rider through the Loire Valley (included on the World Heritage Listing as a living cultural landscape), a harmonious alliance between mankind and nature. The châteaux, towns and villages, the river and its culture, wine-growing and gastronomy all fit perfectly into this magnificent landscape.
BIVOUACKING IN CYCLING SHELTERS
On the “Loire à Vélo” cycling trail, 12 campsites offer cyclists the chance to stay over for a night in an amazing hut on stilts with breakfast included!
This simple and cheap form of accommodation, made of sustainable materials (wood and canvas), provides the basic needs of travelling cyclists with a comfortable sleeping space.