France’s green spaces provide the chance to see magnificent wildlife, explore mountain villages or just have a great hike or bike ride
The first (1963) and largest of France’s mainland national parks, the Vanoise is in the French Alps, becoming the Gran Paradiso national park once it’s over the Italian border. Hundreds of trails crisscross the mountainsides where semi-tame marmots come up for a sniff of your picnic and where edelweiss pokes out among the bluey trumpets of gentiana acaulis on the slopes. Lynx, wolves, chamois and ibex descend once the ice has melted in the spring. Surrounded by prestigious ski-resorts, Courchevel and Val-d’Isère the park offers a grand spectacle of glaciers and mountain lakes, perfect for mountain biking and trekking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Stay Le Roc de la Pêche, a chalet-style wood-and-stone building with a hammam and spa; €62pp, €28-a-bed in a dorm