France has a large number of zoos and animal parks that showcase wildlife. Le Petit Futé has compiled a list of these "theatres of dreams" for young and old, which should fill you with wonder. From marine animals, to the big beasts of the jungle and some mountain dwellers, zoos are a good way to see certain species that often live in faraway lands and that you don't always have the opportunity to get close to. Scattered all over France, perhaps at the end of this animal visit you will feel like planning a getaway with your family in one of these parks that often put stars in the eyes, and not only in the eyes of the youngest.
ZooParc de Beauval, Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher
Welcome to the Centre-Val de Loire region to discover one of the most beautiful zoos in France. In a wooded park of 27 hectares, in the heart of the royal castles, the prestigious Beauval zoological park is even ranked among the 15 most beautiful zoos in the world! It holds the largest animal collection in France, with 4,600 animals of 500 different species. Among the different species that can be seen there, we should note the inevitable pandas and in particular the last one to have been born on August 4th, 2017, the baby panda Yuan Meng
Direction Brittany for a discovery of the inhabitants of the oceans. Océanopolis is a large aquarium and leisure park, composed of three thematic pavilions recreating polar, tropical and temperate environments. Unique in Europe, the aquarium combines science and wonder. The park can easily be visited in 3 hours or half a day and you can see sharks, otters, penguins and a multitude of colourful warm sea fish. The place also has many partnerships throughout the world to carry out actions in favour of the preservation of the marine environment.
Zoo de la Palmyre, the Mathes
Here is the largest private zoological park in France, located near Royan in Charente-Maritime, created in 1966 by Claude Caillé, an animal lover whose dream was to open a zoo. On 18 hectares, the park intends to defend endangered species and ensure the comfort of its many residents. There are six categories of animals in the park: mammals, birds, reptiles, primates, ungulates and carnivores. It should be noted that in the context of the preservation of species throughout the world, the zoo does not hesitate to send staff on site, educators, caretakers or even veterinarians
Le Pal, Dompierre-sur-Besbre
Come and discover the mini-farm and nearly 600 animals in semi-liberty on 35 hectares! You will also have the chance to see the bird nursery, the valley of the wolves, the bay of seals, the red pandas, the jungle of the big Asian wild beasts, the penguins of Cape Town... and to attend the animals' snacks and three superb animal shows with, notably for the first time in Europe, hippos from the Great Lakes of Africa, pelicans and panthers from Sri Lanka. And to continue the adventure beyond one day, it is also possible to rent a lodge in the heart of the savannah and in the middle of the lakes for the pleasure of waking up with a view of the wild animals!
Valley of the Monkeys, Romagna
It is not far from Poitiers that one of Europe's very large zoos dedicated to monkeys can be found, offering the discovery of the fascinating world of primates in unique and privileged conditions. It is notably the only animal park in France to host Bonobos or Pygmy Chimpanzees (Pan paniscus). There is also the pleasure of walking in green alleys where some small, non-aggressive monkeys do not hesitate to come and see what is in the pockets of walkers. It is thus necessary to remain well attentive. And don't forget to take part in the feeding of the primates, the chimpanzees' feeding is particularly captivating.
In the department of Sarthe, one of the largest zoos in France is home to nearly 1,200 animals. The zoo plays the card of originality by offering top-of-the-range accommodation in a finely decorated wooden lodge. While enjoying a drink in your armchair, you can watch bears, cheetahs, tigers and Arctic wolves pass by in front of the large bay windows. Arrow Zoo also offers the opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of a caretaker, shows to entertain young and old, and has set itself the goal of informing visitors so that they can become aware of the need to protect endangered species around the world.
Holy Cross Animal Park, Rhodes
As the leading European wildlife park in France, this animal park works to defend biodiversity by sheltering more than 1,500 animals in semi-liberty on 120 hectares of forests and meadows. There are four discovery trails that allow visitors to come and meet wolves, lemurs, red pandas, deer and lynx. You can also take part in new experiences such as the night call of the wolf, the deer roar, as well as put yourself in the shoes of a caretaker during the day. And for those who wish, don't hesitate to crack for a night in a tree house!
Thoiry Zoo, Yvelines
40 km from Paris, in the domain of the castle of Thoiry, this extraordinary place is famous all over the world. When it opened in 1968, based on an idea by Count Paul de La Panouse, Thoiry Zoo was the first zoo in Europe to welcome animals in semi-liberty. In contrast to conventional zoos, visitors can circulate by car among 20 species of free-ranging African herbivores. And for a unique experience, don't hesitate to get on board a bush truck to benefit from the comments of experienced guides. A big plus: the presence of zip lines to fly over the animals.
Marineland is a popular tourist attraction on the French Riviera, and is the largest marine theme park in Europe. It offers a wide range of leisure activities for the enjoyment of families: dolphinarium, sea museum, orca, dolphin and sea lion shows... The shows are a must for all ages: the teasing animals don't hesitate to come and water the public, to the delight of the whole family. Educational activities also aim to raise public awareness on the protection of the marine environment. Not forgetting the novelty of 2018, a 5D cinema that guarantees a good dose of thrills.
Paris Zoological Park
Formerly named Vincennes Zoo, the park reopened in April 2014 after several years of work. Metamorphosed, the new park offers a route crossing 5 biozones: Sahel-Sudan, Europe, Guyana, Madagascar and Patagonia. Among the animals you will meet: Darwin's rhea, oryx, green basil, lemur, maki catta or even the dwarf caiman. The park also offers a memorable experience, that of having breakfast before the opening of the park, in the company of giraffes. An opportunity to get acquainted with a fascinating animal