France’s 6 most awe-inspiring natural wonders!

France is full of striking landscapes and natural wonders that are perfect for those who want to venture outdoors. From the dazzling aquamarine Gorges of Verdon to the mystical pink salt marsh of Camargue, we bring you 6 of the most lauded natural attractions in France. Don't fret if you don’t see your favourite. Indeed, there are too many of these sights to list!

Gorge du Verdon

Europe’s deepest gorge, the Verdon Gorge derives its name after the colour of the water: vert meaning green in French. When the region was underwater 250 million years ago, seashells, coral, and the seafloor built up and were compressed to form limestone rock. Overtime, plate movements caused the seafloor to rise and the limestone peaks were formed. When the Ice Age came along, glaciers wore away further at the limestone and created the valleys, rivers and rock formations of the Verdon Gorge.

Why should you visit?
You can go on a hiking trail in and around the gorge, on an exciting road trip round the edge of the gorge or simply admire nature at its best. Why not also enjoy the experience of paddling up the bottom end of the gorge in a canoe, a kayak or a pedal boat?
Location : Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Cliffs of Étretat

The cliffs of Étretat are numerous sea cliffs and rock formations in Normandy. The cliffs mostly contain chalk and limestone as well as flint and were formed primarily by erosion from wind, rain and ocean waves - coastal erosion is still significant due to the soft chalk. They are at least 70m high along with a 50m high needle-like structure, named the ‘Aiguille’ as well as three large natural arches and a beach area.

Why should you visit?
The cliffs and the rock formations steal the show in Étretat, thanks to their stunning natural beauty and the fact that they were often the inspiration for Impressionist painters. A walk up the cliffs to the west of Étretat leads you to an 18-hole golf course while a walk to the east will bring you to the Jardins d’ Étretat, a beautiful Asian-inspired garden.
Location : Normandy

Dune of Pilat

The tallest sand dune in Europe, the Dune of Pilat is approximately 500m wide and extends for nearly 3 kms. The sand is the giant wall between ocean and land, and from the ground, it’s an imposing one. The Atlantic winds have shaped the Pilat, depositing the eroding sand from the seaward side onto the landward side of the dune. The Dune of Pilat is constantly moving, between the ocean and the forest, as the particles of sand – up to 60 million cubic metres – are blown by the wind.

Why should you visit?
You can climb the dune on the soft sand or take the 154 wooden steps to reach the top, to enjoy impressive views of the Arcachon Bay and Teste-de-Buch forest. Once you come down by taking the steps or by rolling, sliding or tumbling (a popular option with children!), you can head to the beach to swim, indulge in a picnic or a drink with friends. Other activities to explore here include paragliding, sand boarding and the occasional skiing, when the dunes are dusted with snow in winter!
Location : Teste-de-Buch, close to the town of Arcachon and just 65 kms from Bordeaux.

Camargue Salt Flats

The Camargue is one of Europe’s largest wetland areas. Its salt flats are imbued in a pretty shade of pink thanks to special algae that’s found in highly concentrated salt water. As the microscopic algae grow, it gives salty water their pink colour by synthesizing beta-carotene to protect itself from the sun. These salt lakes are known as Salin d’Aigues-Mortes and are known to produce about 500,000 tons of salt per year!

Why should you visit?
White breed of horses and pink flamingos- Few areas of France are as distinctive as the Camargue! You can actually take a horseback tour on one of the wild white Camargue horses. The flats are home to the region’s emblematic bird, the flamingo, and they can be spotted at the Parc Ornithologique.
Location : South of Arles, Provence Alpes Cote D’Azur

Mont Blanc

Rising at 4808m above sea-level, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. The height of Mont Blanc differs each year depending on the depth of the summit’s snowcap. The formation of the Mont Blanc Massif was completed towards the end of the Tertiary era, some 15 million years ago. Four successive glaciations formed in an ice age helped to sculpt the present profile of the Mont Blanc range, excavating the Chamonix valley.

Why should you visit?
While you can certainly scale this high-altitude mountain with an experienced guide and some serious alpine skills, the closest you can get to the summit of Mont-Blanc without hiking or climbing is the Aiguille du Midi, a 3842m peak in the Mont Blanc massif. From here, a panoramic cable car ride lets you enjoy much of the Mont Blanc. For a 360 panoramic view, ‘Step into the Void’ into the glass box suspended over a 1000m sheer drop - an absolute is a must-do!
Location : Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Pont d’Arc

The Pont d’Arc a colossal geologic feature that acts as a natural gate to the Ardèche Canyon where the world’s oldest cave paintings are located. It was formed when the Ardèche River eroded the limestone rock over many years to create a hollow archway. The bridge is 60m long and climbs 54m above the water.

Why should you visit?
Pont d’Arc is a popular location for camping along with canoeing and kayaking. You can even row your way under the giant stone formation to the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, the site of the oldest Paleolithic cave paintings, created around 30,000 years ago.
Location : Ardèche, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes