Let me show you the best 10 zoos and animal parks in France. Because….
Who doesn’t love animals? The older ones and the small ones love visiting zoos, observing animals and learning more about them. The standards and quality of current zoos are very high and especially in France. I have already visited some zoos and animal parks and I loved the experience to be so close to animals and the animals being treated with the respect and care. It is nothing like before when all species were kept in cages and you looked at them from far away. Nowadays, they are provided with a lot of space, reasonable freedom and in some cases they are allowed contact with people. This is an amazing experience. As I said, I always admire France for high standard and quality of everything they do. That is why I think their zoos and animal parks are just great. Let me show you the best 10 zoos and animal parks in France:
- ZooParc de Beauval is a French zoological park located in Saint-Aignan, in the Loir-et-Cher department, in the Centre-Val de Loire region. With more than 900,000 annual visitors since 2012, it is the most visited touristic site of the Centre-Val de Loire region, one of the five most visited zoological institutions in France and the most visited private conventional zoo of the country. It has been ranked among the top 10 zoos in the world. It features more than 3,000 animals on 35 hectares, which is one of the largest animal collections in France and in Europe. I have been lucky as I had a chance to visit this amazing park and I agree it is the best of the best. Created in 1980 by Françoise Delord, it is now run by her son, Rodolphe Delord, and managed by his family. It has been the first zoo in France to present leucistic big cats, white tigers and white lions, in the 1990s. Still today, many species are rare in France, such as the okapi and the tree kangaroos, or even unique, such as the koala and the giant panda. Four greenhouses presents birds, great apes, sloths, reptiles, manatees and Australasian animals, while three plains allows to present herbivores of the African savannah (giraffes, white rhinos, wildebeest, antelopes …), African elephants and Asian herbivores (Indian rhinos, Malayan tapirs, antelopes …). Other notable facilities in the park are the Chinese zone called On China heights, the African swamp called The Hippos Reserve, and the two spaces dedicated to shows: the sea lion basin presenting the sea lions Odyssey and the outdoor theater presenting a free flight bird show, entitled Masters of airs. The ZooParc de Beauval also proposes a consistent hotel offers with three accommodation facilities: an apartment hotel, Les Hameaux de Beauval, and two 3-star hotels: Les Jardins de Beauval and Les Pagodes de Beauval. Address: ZooParc de Beauval, 41110 Saint Aignan sur Cher, France; Prices: 30 € / adult and 24 € for 3-11 years.
- Zoo de la Flèche (formally called Parc Zoologique du Tertre-Rouge) is a 18-hectare zoo that opened in 1946 in La Flèche (Sarthe), between Angers and Le Mans. One of the 5 largest French zoos, it is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the Association Française des Parcs Zoologiques (AFdPZ). Since 2014, it has been part of the TV show “Une Saison au zoo” broadcasted on France 4. It turned out to be a great success that has allowed the zoo to gain a great reputation and to see its attendance doubling! Zoo de la Flèche offers one of the largest collections in France with more than a thousand animals. It is home to some 1600 animals representing about 160 species. Among the species there are: white lions, grizzly bears, bears browns, polar bears, giraffes, white tigers, Sumatran tigers, black panthers, African elephants, big kangaroos, emus, servals, hippopotamuses, cheetahs, wallabies, llamas, lemurs, turtles, otters, Humboldt penguins, white wolves, red pandas, fennecs, meerkats, tapirs, alpacas, large anteaters, lazy, chimpanzees, tamarinds, gibbons, makis, marmosets, iguanas, ocelots, flamingos of Chile, toucans, geckos, caimans, boas, anacondas, turtles, etc. The zoo offers 3 shows every day: a show of California sea lions in the Marine World, a bird show in free flight (vultures, hawks, fish eagles , storks) and a show of parrots. There are also other activities likes: feeding elephants, penguins, hippos, polar bears, giraffes, presentation of reptiles, meeting with elephants etc. The zoo is developing all the time. In 2019, the zoo opened the new space for tigers of Sumatra in the Asian plain, with underwater vision for visitors as well as new spaces of 4 new lodges, two face cheetahs and two face Sumatran tigers. Address: Zoo de la Flèche: Le Tertre Rouge, 72200 La Flèche; Prices: 24 € / adult and 19 € for 3-11 years.
- Réserve Africaine de Sigean is a 300-hectare zoo that opened in 1974 in Sigean, Aude, in the south of France. The zoo is home to some 3,800 animals representing about 160 species, and is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). This unique zoo has preserved the wild character of the animals. First of all, there are four large spaces dedicated to bears, lions, bush and African savannah. Then, there is an another area with the chimpanzees, wild dogs, meerkats etc. Each year, the reserve records new births. Since 1974, it has 10,000. The most popular attractions for children are the parrot show, the polar bear, which is seen swimming through windows and the impressive gorillas! And for all, the car trip among the wild animals. Address: Réserve Africaine de Sigean, RD 6009, 19 chemin Hameau du lac, 11130 SIGEAN; Prices: 32 € / adults and 23 € for 4-14 year olds. Open all year.
- Le zoo de la Palmyre. Founded by Claude Caillé in 1966 and now spread over more than 18 hectares, La Palmyre Zoo is one of the busiest tourist sites in the Charente-Maritime region. Each year, more than 700,000 visitors come to discover more than 1,600 animals of all species. Among them, there are the carnivorous species from Africa and Asia such as cheetah, tiger, lion, meerkat, the marine mammals such as otters, polar bear or even sea lion. Reptiles of all kinds such as snakes, giant turtles, but also caimans and iguanas. In Le zoo de la Palmyre, you can also discover the impressive wildlife of Africa with gigantic and imposing elephants, giraffes, white rhinos and hippopotamuses. Finally, this zoo offers its visitors the chance to see the colorful wealth of the thirty species of birds hosted at the zoo including penguins, flamingos, ostriches, royal cranes. Zoo regularly organizes shows during the day with sea lions and parrots, just to name a few. It also plays an important role in the conservation of endangered species, scientific research and environmental education. Address: Le Zoo de la Palmyre, .6 Avenue de Royan,Les Mathes 17570 France; Prices: 17 € / adult and 13 € for 3-12 years. Zoo open all year.
- Parc Zoologique de Paris formerly known as the Bois de Vincennes Zoological Park is a facility of the National Museum of Natural History, located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, which covers an area of 14.5 hectares in the bois de Vincennes. It was designed to complement the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes and to permit people to observe the animal behavior in a more suitable environment. Since its opening in 1934, it is remarkable for its large artificial 65 m high rock, iconic scenery of the park and popularly called the “Big Rock”. This zoo include a greenhouse of 4,000 m2 sheltering a tropical rainforest climate. The zoo was closed between 30 November 2008 and 12 April 2014 after becoming dilapidated and too small for its residents, according to criteria of the twenty-first century. Currently, the zoo is much bigger and accommodate many animals. The main animals to discover on a 4 km course crossing 5 biozones are: Patagonia, Africa, Europe , Amazonia-Guyana, Madagascar. The zoo offers many activities and attractions for its visitors, like animals feeding, discovery tours, nocturnes, wild meetings during the school holidays: highlighting a biozone with animations, guided tours, backstage access, meetings with the healers. Address: Parc Zoologique de Paris, Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, Prices: Adults and young people from 13 years old: 20 €,Child from 3 to 12 years old: 15 €, Child under 3 years old: free
- Safari de Peaugres is an 80 ha zoo in the Peaugres area of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, near Annonay. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in department of Ardèche. Open since 1974, the park brings together animals from 4 continents. It presents 1,000 animals from 134 different species, including elephants, tigers, cheetahs, rhinos, sea lions, polar bears, brown bears, giraffes, hyenas, lynx, wolves, snow leopards, bush pigs, zebras, Dama gazelles, hippopotamuses, monkeys (saïmiris, ateles, makis, etc.). It is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Safari de Peaugres allows visitors to discover the animals on foot, but also by car or by bus. It also offers many other attractions: lots of educational and fun activities for children, including Safari Challenges, 4 Pencils, Water Games, etc. The new attractions in the park are: the outings in 4X4 to get close to all the animals of the African plain, walks in the moonlight and walks in the middle … bears, treasure hunt and educational zones ideal for the whole family. Safari de Peaugres is less than an hour from Lyon and it is a place I wanted to visit for a long time. Address: Safari de Peaugres – 07340 Peaugres, Prices: 21,50 € / adult and 18,50 € from 3 to 12 years old.
- Cerza Safari Park also known as Cerza zoological park, zoological park of Lisieux or zoo of Cerza, is a French zoological park located in Normandy, in Calvados, on the territory of the commune of Hermival-les-Vaux near Lisieux. It is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Between 2004 and 2014, it hosted an average of 274,000 visitors a year. Created in 1986, it is the property of Thierry Jardin, one of its founders, who is also the director of the park. Cerza zoological park hosts various animal species on 70 hectares. It is a spacious, well-maintained park ideal for a full day of family fun. This zoo is big has the paths which are well signed with themed routes to follow and treats to discover around every corner. There are hundreds of species including tigers, lions, hippos and giraffes, all in their specially designed habitats recreated in the French countryside. The park offers a 25 minute train ride which gives the visitors a good overview of the par. It also offers other activities like feeding the giraffes, meeting the kangaroos and goats. You also cannot miss the huge tropical greenhouse with alligators, tropical fish, turtles and snakes and the African Plains. Adresse: Parc zoologique CERZA RD510 – 14100 Hermival les Vaux; Prices: For adult: 21 euros from 12 years, 14.50 euros, free for children under 3 years old, ticket at from 3 to 11 years old.
- Mulhouse Zoological Park is a French zoological park located in the Grand Est region in the department of Haut-Rhin, in the southeast of the city of Mulhouse, district of Rebberg. Created in 1868 by philanthropists industrialists, led by Charles Thierry-Mieg son, it has finally become the property of the City from 1893 and now it is managed by the agglomeration community of Mulhouse region. In 2014, it was the eleventh zoological park of France in terms of frequentation, with 400,000 visitors. The park holds the national label “remarkable garden” of the Ministry of Culture for its botanical collections: magnificent trees, irises, peonies and rhododendrons gardens. That is not all, the park is a permanent member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). The Zoological Park of Mulhouse covers 25 hectares and present more than 900 animals of 170 species, as well as 3,500 plant varieties. It devotes an area to the Arctic fauna with species such as polar bear and the Asian multispecies pen. It has a real playground and mini-farm where children can play with animals. During spring, the park offers the wonderful show of some 400 kinds of iris and hundreds of dahlias in summer with trees in fantastical shapes. Address: 11 avenue de la 1ère Division Blindée, 68100 Mulhouse; Prices: Adult admission price: ticket at € 9.50 from November to March, then € 15.50 the rest of the year. Child seat price: free for children under 4 years and then € 9.50 until age 16.
- Montpellier Zoological Park (formerly Parc Zoologique de Lunaret) is a French zoological park located in the region Occitanie, in the north of the city of Montpellier. It is a big park owned by the city and open to the public free of charge. Only access to the Amazon greenhouse is to be paid. Montpellier Zoological Park covers 80 hectares and accommodates 1150 animals which represents 128 species. The animals of the zoo are presented by continent: Africa, North Africa, Atlas, South America, Oceania. The Amazon greenhouse, the largest in France (2600 m²), is home to 500 animals and 8,000 plants representing 300 species. Opened in 2007, it represents 7 climatic zones and habitats with an artificial rainstorm every two hours to simulate the rainforest environment. Its animal collection includes anacondas, ants, anteaters, armadillos, bats, boas, caymans, ibises, ocelots, piranhas, tamarins, and tarantulas. The plant collections include 34 species of palm trees, 15 species of tree ferns, and 95 types of trees. Address: Montpellier Zoological Park, Montpellier, Hérault 34, Languedoc-Roussillon); Prices: Access to the zoo is free. The prices of the visit of the Amazon greenhouse: Adults: 6.50 € (3 € for over 60s), Children from 6 to 17 years old included, students, large families, job seekers: 3.00 €. Children under 6 years old: free.
- Reserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche is a zoo and safari park in France. It is located in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Brenne in the territory of the municipality of Obterre in the department of Indre. It is part of the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle. The zoo was established in 1958 and opened to the public in 1980. It covers 480 hectares of the forest, of which 100 hectares are open to the public. The zoo has animals in semi-freedom, in relatively large enclosures. Visitors can see about 920 animals from 85 species and five continents, including a remarkable collection of deer. The park includes several sections, including European fauna such as Alpine ibex, European bison, gray wolves and wild boar etc and general fauna from the Americas, Asia and Africa such as big cats, hyenas, baboons, lemurs, giraffe, antelopes and birds. The Zoological Reserve of Haute-Touche is one of the most beautiful wildlife parks in France in natural territory. It offers the exciting visits on foot, by bike or by car for a safari of 4 km! Address: Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche, 36 290 Obterre; Prices: Adult: 13 € Child from 3 to 12 years: 10 € – Free for children under 3 years old
Well, I need to mention that my beloved Lyon has also one small but good and totally free zoo! Zoo de Lyon, formerly known as Zoological Garden of Lyon, is a French municipal zoological park located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes within The Parc de la Tête d’Or. Created in 1858, today it presents a little more than 300 animals of 66 species such as giraffes, elephants, deer, reptiles, primates, and other animals. The zoo is a permanent member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). It is probably the most visited zoo in France given the frequentation of the park of the Tête d’Or (estimated at 3 million visitors a year), of which it is part. The Parc de la Tête d’Or is an area of approximately 117 hectares located in the 6th arrondissement of Lyon. It features a lake on which boating takes place during the summer months. There are also sports facilities, such as a velodrome, short balls, mini golf, horse riding, and a miniature train. Definitely cannot be missed when you are in Lyon!
Wonderful, aren’t they? Are you now convinced to visit any of zoos and animal parks I listed above? Or have you already been to any of the french zoo? If so, please let me know how you like it and if you can recommend. I have yet, so much, to discover…thank you!