Top 5 zoos in France

Red Panda at Palmyre Zoo, photo by Alex_LG/flickr

When it comes to France, everyone can name at least one of its spectacular attractions. With thousands of natural or cultural attractions, France is one of the world’s most visited and most attractive countries. If you have already been to France and seen many of its attractions, willing to make something different on your next holiday, I will give you a tip: visit some of its fantastic zoos! There are impressive zoological gardens in this country which are perfect destinations for the lovers of animals. These huge zoos are home to a great variety of wildlife and offer the visitors some fantastic activities, making the day spent here an unforgettable experience.


La Palmyre Zoo


La Palmyre Zoo can be found in Les Mathes. It was established in 1966 in the Les Mathes forest. It lies on a surface of about 18 hectares. Visitors have the opportunity to admire about 1600 animals of 130 species. The zoo opened in 1966, but the construction project was started in 1957. In the 1960’s, he went Africa where he captured several animals. He brought gorillas and chimpanzees. He left then to Kenya and captured antelopes, zebras  and giraffes. He returned to France for the money necessary for the animals’ transportation. The animals were brought to Palmyre, in the centre of a spectacular forest. When the zoo opened its doors, it had only 60 animals. The number of the visitors grew considerably with every month. Today visitors can admire here animals like elephants, lions, zebras, orangutans, gibbons, tigers, rhinos and so on. Between April and October there are spectacular shows of sea lions, as well as shows of parrots and cockatoos. The zoo is open all year round, from 9:00 to 19:00 from the 1st of April till the 30th of September and from 9:00 to 18:00 the remainder of the year. (July 2012)

Red Panda at Palmyre Zoo, photo by Alex_LG/flickr


Lille Zoo


It is situated within the greenery of the Parc de la Citadelle, just 10 minutes walk from the center of the city of Lille. The Lille Zoo houses more than 70 species of animals, from all the five continents, of which 75% are endangered in their natural habitat. There are numerous fantastic animals living here, such as the white rhino, the tamarin monkey, the gibbon, the capuchin monkey, the red panda, parrots, macaws and so on. About one million people visit the Lille Zoo every year, making it one of the most popular free-entry tourist sites in France. There are also games and activities offered by the zoo which add even more enjoyment to the visiting experience. During summer the zoo is open from the end of March to the end of October: from9:00 to 18:00 during the week and from 9:00 to 19:00 weekends and public holidays. From the end of October to the end of March it is open from 10:00 to 17:00 every day. The zoo is closed annually from mid-December to mid-February. (July 2012)


Zebra at Lille Zoo, photo by DaffyDuke/flickr


Parc Zoologique de Thoiry

The Parc Zoologique de Thoiry is located near Paris and has become a very popular safari park. Being one of Europe’s best-known and most original attractions, it offers some fantastic features that will surely enthrall every visitor. It is a great day out for the whole family, from the littlest to the oldest. There are over 1000 animals (about 130 species) living on this 150 hectare site. The zoo also includes a chateau and fantastic botanical gardens. Animals such as giraffes, elephants, zebras, antelopes, big cats and bears can be seen here. There are also educational games that provide the introduction to the often forgotten concepts and importance of the protection of all animals. The Mysterious Island is a fantastic adventure trail which is beloved by children. It has suspended bridges, a wooden pyramid to climb, toboggans and many more attractions. The Parc Zoologique de Thoiry is open from 10:00 to 17:00 during the winter months and from 10:00 to 18:00 during the summer months. (July 2012)


Montpellier Zoo


Montpellier Zoo or Parc Zoologique Henri de Lunaret is a free day out for the family located in a spectacular parkland in the northern part of Montpellier. There are bears, lions, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, antelopes living in this zoo. Montpellier Zoo has also recently completed the creation of its “Lungs of the Planet – Amazon Jungle”. This new attraction aims to provide a real feel for life in the Amazon. The centre contains nearly 3,500 plant species and 500 animals. It features contain a tree level walk-way, a mountain path with steamy drizzle and 7 different climatic zones. From the beginning of the Easter holidays until the autumn holidays the zoo is open from 10:00 to 18:30. From the autumn holidays until the beginning of Easter holidays it is open from 09:00 to 17:00. (July 2012)


Rhino at Montpellier Zoo, photo by styeb/flickr


Jardin Zoologique d’Acclimatation du Bois de Boulogne


It was created in 1860 and displays a luxuriant flora in the winter garden of the hothouses and also several exotic animals. In addition to horticultural stock for the gardens, Davioud’s hothouses also provide workshops for children. Here adults will find botanical stories unveiling the secrets of tea or perfume. There are merry-go-round and puppet shows for children. Animals that live here are the following: bears, lions, monkeys and deer. The zoo is open from 10:00 to 18:00 from October to May and from 10:00 to 19:00 from June to September. (July 2012)

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