For those who love birdwatching, the beauty of the hobby is that you can enjoy it almost anywhere in the world. The sheer number of bird species combined with their habitats means that virtually all countries offer the opportunity to watch birds in their natural state. For those who live or are traveling to Europe, one of the best countries to visit for birdwatching is France.
There are more than 460 species of birds in France. Being five times the size of Great Britain, France offers a wide range of birds for you to see.
What Makes France Unique?
Arguably the greatest benefit that France has to offer for those who love watching birds is the location of the country itself. France is a large country in Europe, touching Spain, Italy, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Germany and Belgium to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west along with the English Channel to the north. That location means so many birds from across Europe, England, and south from the Mediterranean Sea fly through France.
The landscape is another reason why France is an excellent country for birdwatching. You have a wide variety from coastal beaches to mountainous terrain to the rolling countryside that offers many different habitats for birds. This means that you can travel across the area to see famed red-spotted bluethroats, purple heron, and spoonbills that live in the country. If you feel like taking in the mountains, then you have access to the Alps and the Pyrenees.
However, the downside for being such a large, diverse country is that it makes it difficult to take in all the wonderful locations in one trip. You are better off deciding which area of France to visit, so you can maximize your time investing in birdwatching. What follows are a few of the best locations that will make it easier for you to see the wide variety of birds that this marvelous country has to offer.
You can choose most places in France and see some marvelous birds. This is especially true in the many reserves that have been established in the country. From the Cirl Bunting to the Black Redstart and more, you can find a wide variety of birds in most places along the autoroutes which take you out of the major cities.
However, if you want to visit a location where there is a concentration of interesting birds, here are the best ones that France has to offer.
What is the best bird watching locations in France?
1. Baie De Somme Wetlands
Located in the north of France, the wetlands are found along the English Channel. For birdwatchers, the place to go inside the wetlands is Marquenterre Park. This is a large, 200-hectare site that offers a habitat for the birds which migrate between Scandinavia and Mauritania each year. While spring and early fall are the best times, you can see birds the year-round at this location.
There are over 300 species of birds ranging from waders to shorebirds to birds of prey. There are several observations points that offer a substantial view of the area. Plus, there are guides who can answer your questions about the birds that live and pass through the region. the Baie de Somme Wetlands are the perfect place for the birdwatcher for those visiting France.
2. Camargue Wetlands
Sited along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, this is arguably the most popular place for birdwatchers in all of France. In addition to the warm, year-round weather, the wetlands are home to many of the migrating birds that travel across the Mediterranean. At over 900 square kilometers or 360 square miles, there is plenty of habitat for the birds who mostly occupy the marshlands.
What makes the area interesting is that the Rhone River empties into the wetlands, so the environment is one of constant change. The best times to visit are in the spring and early fall when the birds are migrating and using the wetlands as a temporary place to stay. You will find over 400 species of birds during the season, but most people come to see the beautiful greater flamingos which have made this part of the world famous.
Just be cautious of the mosquitoes which have also made this area their home. However, with a little precaution, you can really enjoy the Camargue Wetlands and the many different species of birds that they offer.
3. Lake Der Chantecoq
Located in the town of Champagne in eastern France, this large artificial lake which covers 19 square miles was originally intended to stop flooding in Paris. However, it has also become one of the best places to watch birds. You will see many thousands of cranes during the migrations in the spring and fall. Plus, you can also see loons, the great egret, and even catch a glimpse of the white-tailed eagle.
The lake is the perfect place for birdwatchers who also want to stay relatively close to Paris. This means that you can enjoy birdwatching during the day and the city of lights at night.
4. Tarn Gorge
One of the deepest gorges in all of Europe, the Tarn Gorge has become quite popular in recent times thanks to being featured in the 2015 Tour de France. But while the gorge itself is a remarkable attraction, it is the many eagles and vultures that fly along the thermals or updrafts that make this a spectacular site for birdwatchers.
You will see a number of larger bird species that includes the aforementioned vultures and eagles along with the golden owls, ravens, and the unique griffon vultures. If you like spectacular natural scenery and the beauty inherent in larger birds, then the Tarn Gorge is right for you.
There are many excellent places in France to watch bird, but these four offer a unique experience that you will not soon forget. By showcasing many of the different bird species, you can spend more of your valuable travel time at these locations to get the most out of your birdwatching adventure.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!