01 September 2011

Animal Weekend in Paris

I got a wee bit excited last Thursday.  An e-mail arrived in my inbox labeled "Billets Tanzanie" and I had to do everything in my power to keep from squealing.

We are definitely going on our honeymoon in October to Tanzania and Zanzibar!!!!

One week of safari, which will be awesome in October, because that is when you have herbivore migrations.  We'll be around the Ngorongoro Crater, which is supposedly the cradle of civilization :)  After hiking around with the animals, we'll be off to the beaches of Zanzibar for relaxation.  Oh and swimming with dolphins.  I just might actually tan this year...

Not sure if I'll be able to come back from this to cold Paris...
Anyhow, hubby and I are beyond pumped.  It still hasn't hit us.  To get us in the mindset, we decided to go play with the animals this weekend here in Paris.  Can't say that the weather cooperated with us.  Saturday, we got stuck in a downpour at the Jardin des Plantes.  Sunday it was bloody cold...but at least it was sunny out!  This summer has been so horrible here in Paris.  While my friends and family have been boiling under the hot summer heat, we've been under dreary grey skies and shivering in cold temperatures.  Yet another reason why we're so happy to be going somewhere warm.
This is what my summer has looked like.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

Saturday, we headed over to the gorgeous Jardin des Plantes to check out their ménagerie.  We have been wanting to go for a while, but every time we get there, it's closing for the day.  If you haven't been to this garden, put it on your list of Paris things to do...immediately.  Especially if you have offspring.  There is the Natural History Museum, the Evolution Museum, and the Menagerie.  Including lots of space for you to run them around on a nice day so that their energy levels are no more for bedtime!

The Menagerieis kind of a sad place.  One of my French friends and I talked about how depressing it was to see animals in such small cages.  The big cats were behind glass and pacing.  A busy road runs just past part of the zoo area, which distressed me.  However, it is central, and if you aren't a fan of trucking it out to the zoo over at Vincennes or going outside of Paris by car, then it'll have to do.

Flamingos chillin'

Kitty under glass

Training for Tanzania: your head is in a hippo's mouth...
what do you do next?

Parc des félins - Nelles

I adores cats.  I don't care if they are kinda snobby and I have a slight allergy to them.  They are adorable balls of fluff.  So when a colleague at work told me about this park that was dedicated to the feline species, I just about left work to steal a car and go.  But given that I am trying to make a good impression in the new job, I decided to be a responsable adult and wait until the weekend.  Fab and I piled in the Peugeot with a couple of our friends, a picnic lunch, and drove out to Nelles, which is 50 minutes away from Paris. 

The park is great.  It is a huge area, and you really have the impression that you are a visitor in the animals' territory.  Some of the smaller cats, like the ocelot or the sand cat, are enclosed in smaller areas, but they still have ample room to climb and run around.  The lions and tigers had huge spaces in which to run, play fight, and lie around.  The signage is really well done, explaining interesting facts about the animals, their natural habitats, their habits, etc.  Each animal has a name and date of birth written out, and you're told how to identify one cat from the other.  There is also a "Lemur Island," where a variety of lemurs are not kept behind cages and are allowed to run around at their will.  They are not afraid of humans, and will come up and sit next to you on the fence and play with your bag.  Very. Adorable.

Concerning practicalities, you can rent binoculars to see the cats when they are hiding out in the farthest reaches of their confines.  Families can rent wagons and strollers for children/picnics.  We spent the entire day there, meandering around, enjoying the park's greenery.  It was quite pleasant.

So if you are ever in an animal mood in Paris, here are two great options to explore.  I highly, highly recommend the Parc des félins for a Sunday, when other sites in Paris are closed or crowded with tourists.


  1. Cool! I've been to the Jardin des Plantes and agree the animals seemed a bit sad, but had no idea about the Parc des Felins. That sounds amazing! I'm going to have to find someone to drive me over because it sounds too cool to pass up.

    Congrats on your honeymoon plans, too. Can't wait to see your pics from that!