With Amélie, we love zoos. In France, we are glad since the country has a large number of animal parks. If you also like to observe animals, you will like this article.
I introduce below the 15 best zoos in France.
ZooParc de Beauval
The ZooParc de Beauval is one of the most popular and renowned zoos in Europe.
It is known for its great variety of animals, with more than 10,000 individuals over 600 different species.
Among them, you will find rare animals such as white tigers and, more recently, pandas. The latter enjoy a large living space decorated with an Asian theme.
Indeed, the zoo is known for its modern facilities and its commitment to the conservation and protection of endangered species.
In addition to the classic zoo tour, visitors can also participate in educational and interactive experiences, such as feeding workshops and animal encounters. Recently, gondolas have been installed and for a moment, you can cross the park and admire the animals from the sky.
The park also offers a wide selection of restaurants, several nearby hotels and souvenir stores to complement your visit.
Being born in this region, we have visited it about ten times each since our childhood. It is always a great pleasure, but also a surprise. Each time we visit, we discover a new landscape or a new species.
Zoo of La Palmyre
The Zoological Park of La Palmyre is located in the small town of Les Mathes, between the island of Oléron and Royan.
The zoo is spread over 18 hectares and has over 1,600 animals belonging to 115 different species.
Among them, giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, polar bears, zebras and many other fascinating animals.
Created in 1966, this zoo takes full advantage of its geographical location. In summer, the influx of visitors is very high. Many tourists living near the sea come to spend a day at La Palmyre zoo.
When the weather is hot, the zoo’s vegetation provides shade and both children and adults enjoy discovering the variety of animals.
ZooSafari of Thoiry
The Thoiry Zoo is the best animal park in Ile-de-France. Created in 1968 by the de La Panouse family, it is located in the domain of the castle of Thoiry.
The zoo’s fame is mainly due to its driving safari. Indeed, in your vehicle, you drive through an area where the animals move freely. We did a similar activity in a Quebec zoo and loved it.
The park is home to nearly 750 animals. In addition to visiting by car or train, it is also possible to visit some of the enclosures on foot and to participate in meetings with the animals.
Beyond the visit of the zoo, the domain of Thoiry also has a castle with remarkable gardens and activities for all ages. With your family, you will spend a day full of emotions and discoveries!
African Reserve of Sigean
The African Reserve of Sigean welcomes you in the department of Aude.
The park is famous for its many animals from Africa. Lions, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, monkeys and many other species are waiting for you.
Its animals enjoy a beautiful living space. The visit through the reserve is done by car to observe the animals in their natural environment.
After this walk through a small savanna, you take a walking tour of small animal enclosures such as primates, reptiles and birds.
The park covers more than 300 hectares and has an impressive number of animals (3,800 animals and 160 species).
Zoo of La Flèche
The La Flèche Zoo is located halfway between Angers and Le Mans. It is a very old zoo of France, since its creation goes back to 1946.
It covers an area of 18 hectares and hosts more than 1600 animals belonging to 160 different species.
The zoo of La Flèche is famous for its natural atmosphere, which gives visitors the impression of being immersed in the natural habitats of the animals.
Visitors can see animals such as lions, tigers, panthers, elephants, hippos, giraffes, rhinos, monkeys and many other fascinating species.
Perfectly maintained, the zoo of La Flèche can be visited in 2 to 4 hours. Be sure to follow the map given at the entrance, because with the many small paths, you could miss the enclosure of your favorite species.
The Parc des Félins
The Parc des Félins is a zoological park in Seine-et-Marne. It is specialized in felines and has nearly 300 animals, including 30 different species.
If you like lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, lynxes, pumas, you must visit this park.
The park features the cats in large natural enclosures that allow visitors to observe them in their natural habitat. This is confirmed by the numbers. Despite the presence of “only” 300 animals, the park has an area of 60 hectares, more than three times that of the zoo in La Flèche.
Recently opened in 2006, the park is modern and perfectly laid out.
Visitors can also participate in meetings with the caretakers to learn more about the animals’ behavior and conservation programs for the species.
The park is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) and actively supports cat conservation programs around the world.
Animal Park of La Barben
Since the beginning of the article, the south of France is not very present in the list. But there are some quality zoos near the Mediterranean.
This is the case of the animal park of La Barben which is located between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.
Enjoying a beautiful natural setting, it is built around a 16th-century castle and extends over 33 hectares of Mediterranean forests and scrubland.
On its website, the zoo announces to have 700 animals and 130 species.
Animal park of Sainte-Croix
The Animal Park of Sainte-Croix is a zoological park located in Lorraine.
It covers 120 hectares of forest and grassland, and is home to more than 1,500 animals, of 100 different species, largely representing European and North American wildlife.
The current success of the zoo is based in part on its lodges. Indeed, 52 lodges allow you to sleep close to the animals. Well equipped, they offer a magical moment. You discover the animals in a different way when the park gates are closed.
If you want to stay in a lodge, book in advance. They are often full several months in advance.
The Lille Zoo is one of the few parks located in a large French city.
This presence in the city of Lille is accompanied by limits. Opened in 1950, the zoo has a small area of 3.5 hectares.
The zoo is home to 450 animals and receives over 300,000 visitors each year.
The zoo is accessible by public transport. A complete visit to the park takes more than 2 hours.
The Valley of the Monkeys
La Vallée des Singes is a zoological park located in Romagne. It was created in 1998 by a Dutchman, Wim Mager.
If you like primates, this is the most beautiful place in France to admire them. More than 400 monkeys of 31 species live on a 16-hectare site. From the gigantic gorilla to the small marmoset, you can observe the behavior of primates.
For their comfort, the species live in small, well-managed territories.
La Vallée des Singes is close to the Futuroscope theme park. On a weekend, coupling the two activities ensures good times.
The Crocodile Farm
Monkeys and fawns are often the stars of zoos in France. But reptiles also have their enthusiasts. If this is your case, La Ferme des Crocodiles has everything you need to seduce you.
Founded in 1994, this small park of one hectare welcomes 400 animals. Among them, you will find some species of crocodilians, varanids, pythoness, iguanids…
Everything is arranged to highlight the reptiles. To see so many in a park is impressive.
If you take your time, the visit lasts between 2 and 3 hours. For the youngest, complementary activities such as interactive terminals allow them to learn more about reptiles.
The Jurques Zoo is located in Calvados in Normandy.
Although it has only 700 animals, the zoo has a large area of 21 hectares. These figures mean that a maximum of enclosures are spacious.
Two visit routes are proposed. The first one, the yellow one, allows you to visit the zoo in about 1 hour. If you want to walk more, choose the second route, the blue one, which ensures a visit of at least 1h30.
But you can also do both. Among the visitor reviews, I read some people who had spent up to 4 hours in the zoo.
Zoo of Sables-d’Olonne
The Vendée also has its own zoo with the park of Sables-d’Olonne.
It is not the largest or most popular zoo in France. It receives fewer than 200,000 visitors per year and has a surface area of 3 hectares.
Nevertheless, the opinions remain good. With a 90-minute visit, you will discover more than 500 exotic animals divided into 60 species. Among them, you will find some rare species such as the bush dog, the Kirk’s dik-dik or the maned wolf.
The Menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes
The Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes is in the fifth arrondissement of Paris. It has the particularity to be one of the oldest zoos in the world. Its creation dates from 1794 (no, I didn’t get the wrong number!).
Even if the park is not big, it shelters more than 1000 animals and guarantees a visit of more than one hour. In the Parisian world, it is relaxing to pass by this place and admire the fauna of the World.
I advise you to integrate this visit with other nearby activities. With Amélie, we visited next to the Menagerie, the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and the Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée.
Cerza Zoological Park
Calvados has a second zoo to visit: the Cerza, also called the zoological park of Lisieux.
The strong point of this zoo is its size. In a park approaching 80 hectares, you have the choice between two pedestrian courses and a small train.
This one works like a safari, but with closed enclosures. It takes you close to the enclosures and you see the animals from your seat.
With 120 species and this size, the recommended visit time is between 3 and 4 hours.