Marseille’s Calanques Become France’s Latest National Park
France now officially counts a new national park, the first one in six years, and it is located right in the heart of Provence. On Wednesday 18th of April, after years of debate, French Prime Minister, François Fillon, signed the decree authorizing the creation of France's 10th national park, the Parc National des Calanques.
Stretching between Marseille and Cassis, the park covers 8,500 hectares of land and 43,500 ha. at sea, and is the only National Park in Europe to be at the same time continental, marine and periurban. It is home to around 30 long creeks lined by high white cliffs, 90 archaeological sites, among them the famous Cosquer Cave, and to nearly 140 protected species of fauna and flora, including the country's last surviving pair of Bonelli's eagles.
Each year, the park attracts about 2 million visitors and the goal of the new status is to protect the beauty of the site for future generations and to encourage sustainable development. The "Calanques" will remain free of charge and "non-invasive activities" like hiking, biking and horseback riding will still be allowed.
However new restrictions will be set. On land for instance, visitor centres will be built at the main entry points to give information, hikers will have to follow marked paths and climbers will have to avoid sensitive zones. Meanwhile along the coast, fishing and deep-sea fishing will be forbidden in some areas, jet-skis will be banned and loud- speakers won't be allowed in the creek areas.
There is litlle doubt that this new park will bring even more tourists to our region which also counts three other "Parcs Nationaux": the Port-Cros National Park, in the east of Toulon, the Écrins National Park, in the north of Gap, and the Mercantour National Park in the north of Nice.