France was entirely wooded before the Neolithic Period, when deciduous forests, principally beeches and oaks, covered the country except for temperate mountain forests composed of firs and piceas, and Mediterranean forests of pines and oaks in the southeast. Because of centuries of intensive agricultural and pastoral activity, the forests have been largely destroyed. Extensive forests now exist only in the mountains, on soils that are unsuitable for agriculture, and in protected forest preserves.
The original fauna, comprised mostly of deer, roebucks, and wild boars, has been virtually eliminated. Since the end of the 19th century, however, programs to protect the natural environment have been implemented, particularly in the national and regional parks. Conifers have been planted in reforestation programs in all parts of the country, and forests now cover 25% of France's land area.
|Flora & Fauna Links
L'Association des Parcs et Jardins de Bretagne
The APJB was started in September 1988 as a result of the September 1987 hurricane, in order to repair damage caused by the storm. Once mobilized following the emergency response, the Association has continued its mission to protect, restore, and develop its system of 260+ parks and gardens throughout the four departments of Brittany.
L'Association des Parcs et Jardins de Picardie
Organized in 1994, the Association is a collective of 75 parks and gardens in the three departments of Aisne, Oise, and Somme. The site's search engine allows one to find locations matching specific criteria, such as botanical, flower, rose, topiary, and vegetable gardens – as well as landscaped, wooded, or romantic settings.
L'Association des Parcs et Jardins en Région Centre
Created in 1990, the APJRC's objective is to protect, improve, and promote the parks and gardens of the Centre-Val de Loire region. Nearly 130 proprietors or directors curate the public and private parks in the association, many of which are open to the public, in their efforts to preserve the historical, cultural, and botanical heritage of this picturesque region.
Comité des Parcs et Jardins de France
Headquartered in Paris, the CPJF is a collective of 6 national and 36 regional or departmental associations in all 21 provinces, whose mission is to preserve, develop, and promote France's rich heritage of parks and gardens to a world audience.
Le Figaro sponsors the French version of this horticultural site. By clicking on the link to "Fêtes des Plantes", one can view a listing of all the arboricultural festivals, floral celebrations and other related special events throughout France.
Find a Garden
This massive database offers a handy search form, allowing one to locate gardens and parks throughout France (and several other countries). Search by name, style of garden, historical period when it was created, department or region. Results provide complete descriptions, location, visiting hours, photos, and more. (in French only)
National Bureau of Forests
The ONF (Office National des Forêts) offers nature lovers a wonderful resource on exploring the public forests of France, with ample information on the flora and fauna of each.
|National and Botanical Parks
Cévennes National Park
Designated a National Park in 1970, Cévennes is recognized by the World Biosphere Reserve as a model park, for its conservation of biodiversity and landscape. Approximately 2,250 species of flora may be found here, including 33 species protected by French law.
Parc Ornithologique de Marquenterre
Nature lovers will enjoy this extraordinary bird reserve, a major stopover for many European migratory birds, located between the Authie and Somme estuaries. The preserve includes dunes, forest and marshland accessible via (discreet) paths that extend through most of the area.
Parcs Nationaux de France
The nine national parks (6 on the mainland and 3 in overseas territories) include Vanoise (1963), Port-Cros (1963), Pyrénées (1967), Cévennes (1970), Écrins (1973), Mercantour (1979), Guadeloupe (1989), Réunion Island (2007), and French Guiana (2007).
Covering 27 acres (11 hectares), this new botanical theme park in Anjou (western Loire) opened at the beginning of May 2010. All aspects of plant life historical, geographical, economic, symbolic, scientific, and aesthetic #151; are here.
|Zoos & Wildlife Reserves
Parc de Bagatelle
Situated on the Atlantic coast (highway A16, exit 25) and open from April through September, Bagatelle is actually a combination of zoo (featuring 200 wild animals), amusement park with 44 attractions (including aquatic scooters and 4WD vehicles for all ages), and a circus.
Parc Zoologique d'Amnéville
A completely non-subsidized, privately owned park featuring a prestigious collection of wild animals. Witness a fabulous aquatic ballet in Penguinland, or gaze in wonder at the huge beasts of the African plain. Address: 1, rue du Tigre, Centre Thermal et Touristique, 57360 Amnéville (Lorraine); Phone: 03.8.70.25.60
Parc Zoologique de Lille
In the heart of metropolitan Lille, this zoological park offers a haven to 400 animals of 100 different species (including several which are endangered), and serves as a host for scientific research.
Over 800 animals roam this immense protected area in the Ardeche region, including zebras, mandrills, black bears, polar bears, bison, hippopotami, lions... Part of the safari proceeds by car, then continues on foot through a glass tunnel to view tigers and wolves up close. New feature: penguin and sea lion basin.
Zoo de Vincennes – Parc Zoologique de Paris
Created in 1934 by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris), the zoo comprises five distinct geographical zones and sixteen natural habitats, harboring a thousand animals and 180 different species in optimal conditions. The park was closed for renovations in 2008 and has since reopened better than ever.
|Nominate A Site Submit An Article!
French Flora & Fauna
Do you know about a great flora & fauna site we should list here? If so, please submit it!
Are you an author, educator, student or traveler who would like to write an article for the enjoyment of our francophile community? Please download our author's guidelines (48K PDF). Thank you!