Updated: Mar 22
Need some ideas for outings with your kids during the many school holidays (vacances) in France? Try animal-related activities! Despite living in a densely populated area, there are many ways to see all kinds of animals in and near Paris that cater to kids. Here are some ideas for animal-related days out with children, arranged into categories of: zoos, aquariums, butterflies, farms and petting zoos and more. Be sure to check the websites for seasonal events, many offer activities for children during school vacances, and family or annual ticket prices. Most zoos and aquariums are free for children under three. It is also worth remembering that many parks in Paris and the suburbs have duck ponds and petting zoos.
Zoos and Safari Parks
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Jardin des Plantes
57, rue Cuvier
METRO Austerlitz, Jussieu
BUS 36, 38, 40 rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire
2, 8, 10, 18 rue Buffon
Moved to its current location in 1794 after the French Revolution, this is the oldest zoo in the world still open to visitors. The ménagerie started off as the private collection of queen Marie Antoinette, and hosts dozens of species of rare animals. The zoo, aviary and reptile house have over a thousand animals. It is a great place for little children to run around. Restaurant/snack bar and several picnic tables. Easy stroller access. No dogs allowed.
Entrance fee: Adults €10, kids under 3 free
Daily, year-round, 10am-5pm
Parc Zoologique de Paris
Bois de Vincennes
53, avenue de Saint-Maurice
METRO Porte Dorée
TRAM T3 Porte Dorée
BUS 46, 86, 201, 325 (arrêt : Parc Zoologique), 77 (arrêt Porte de Reuilly)
Large zoo in the Bois de Vincennes spanning 14 hectacres with 3,000 animals in 5 biozones.
Entrance fee: Adults €20, kids 3-12 €17, kids under 3 free
Hours change by the season, check the website for hours
Château de Thoiry
40km west of Paris
01 34 87 53 76
Château de Thoiry is a zoo with a drive-through safari park with animals roaming free (hippos, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras), set on the grounds of the local château. For the safari park, you drive straig in, pay, then enter the safari park at reduced speed, which takes about an hour. For best access to the zoo, park as close to the château as possible. Try to arrive at opening time as it gets overcrowded on holiday weekends. There is a brand new gorilla space, and areas to enter with animals including birds, lemurs, and goats. There is a casual café, picnic areas and playground for older children.
Entrance: Adults €32, children 3-11 €25, children under 3 free (check out the annual ticket prices which are a good deal compared to single tickets)
Parcs Zoologiques Lumigny
52km southeast of Paris
A zoo with two concentrations: wild cats in the Parc des Félins and primates in the Terre de Singes. The Parc des Félins is a zoological park dedicated to the breeding and conservation of wild members of the cat family. Of the 326 recognized species of felines in the world, the park has 26 species, with a total of 160 cats.
The Terre de Signes covers 21 hectacres, and has 300 animals and not just monkeys- there are also parrot and parakeet enclosures. Additionally, visitors can enter a squirrel monkey enclosure.
Entrance fees: Tickets are offered for both parks, or individually, and annual passes. Check website for details on tickets
Ticket prices for both parks: Adults and children over 11 €28, children 3- 10 €16, kids under 3 are free
Office National des Forêts
3, rue Groussay
50km southwest of Paris
The Forêt de Rambouillet was once one of the favourite royal hunting spots due to its abundant stocks of wild boar, deer, stags and rabbits. Now a wildlife reserve that offers a protected habitat to many species of animals, including birds of prey such as falcons and eagles, it stretches over 250 hectares and is divided into three “forests”. The “Eagle Forest” has over 120 birds of prey in aviaries. There are birds of prey shows daily, check website for times. The “Deer Forest” has a discovery path with observation points.
Hours: CLOSED in Winter, reopening in April 2023 check website for hours
Coffee shop and restaurant on site (summer time only)
Entrance fees: see website
Aquarium de Paris
5, avenue Albert de Mun
RER C Champs de Mars
BUS: 22 (Trocadéro), 30, 32, 63 (Albert de Mun), 72 (Pont d'Iena), 82 Varsovie
This innovative aquarium combines marine life with multimedia installations. The aquarium holds over 13,000 creatures in total including the largest jellyfish aquarium in Europe with 2,500 jellyfish. The largest tank is nearly 10 metres deep and contains 3 million litres of water (3,000 tonnes) and 100 tonnes of salt. Kids can touch carp and sturgeon in the touching pools, and you can also get to see the sharks being fed by divers.
Hours: Open daily 10am-6pm
You MUST buy tickets in advance
Entrance: Adults and kids over 13 €25.50, children 3 to 12 €18.50, kids under 3 free
Aquarium Tropical at the Palais de la Porte Dorée
293, avenue Daumesnil
METRO Porte Dorée
BUS 46, 201
A large aquarium in the basement of the Palais de la Porte Dorée with over 500 species. Numerous tanks of tropical fish as well as turtles and an alligator pit. With lots of room to run around and an affordable price, this is a great place to take small children on a rainy day.
Hours: Closed Mondays, check website for hours
Entrance fees: Adults over 26 €8, free for people under 26, annual pass for one person €20, €30 for two people
SEA LIFE Val d’Europe
14, cours du Danube
RER A Val d’Europe
SEA LIFE has eight themed areas including a shark tank, and a 360°
underwater tunnel. There is also touching tank for children to learn more about fascinating sea creatures.
Hours: Open daily 10am - 6:30pm
Entrance fees: Check website for tickets and annual pass prices
Serre aux Papillons
40km southwest of Paris
In the atmosphere of an equatorial jungle, over 700 species of butterflies fly around you among orchids and rare plants. There is also a new bioluminescent jungle.
Hours: Daily 9am - 6:00pm
Entrance fees: Adults €11, children 3 - 14 €4.50, children under 3 free
Farms and Petting Zoos
There are many farms open to the public where children can spend the day and watch, pet and feed the animals. They tend to be on the outskirts of Paris, and are often located in parks. Some offer ateliers during school vacances so check the websites to see if there are any special programs.
La Ferme Georges-Ville
Bois de Vincennes
1, rue du Pesage (behind the Hippodrome de Vincennes)
METRO Château de Vincennes
RER A Joinville le Pont
METRO Joinville le Pont
Often called the Farm of Paris, the Ferme Georges-Ville is in the Bois de Vincennes, just next to the hippodrome. It is an educational farm for children with cows, pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, etc., which children can pet. Additionally, there are crop fields, vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Depending on the season, you can watch sheep-shearing, milking, and butter making demonstrations.
Hours: Open weekends until 26 February 2023, check website for hours
The Bois de Vincennes offers ideal picnic areas, but no other facilities, there are toilettes at the farm but no baby changing table
Entrance fees: FREE
Ferme Pédagogique du Hameau de la Reine
Hameau de la Reine, Petit Trianon
Château de Versailles
20km southwest of Paris
Created in 1783, the Petit Hameau was a mock farm, complete with farmhouse, dairy, mill and chicken yard. When visiting this farm, Marie Antoinette and her attendants would dress as shepherdesses, and play at milking the cows and tending other docile
animals. Restored and reopened in 2006, today cows, goats, sheep, swans and ducks roam in an historical setting.
To access the Queen’s area, use the Porte Saint-Antoine entrance. There is a fee to drive into the grounds (parking is just outside the Hameau) or you can park on the street (there is a small fee for street parking) and walk. Follow signs to the Petit Trianon once in Versailles.
Entrance fees: Adults €10, children under 10 free (Reserve tickets online, well in advance as they book up.)
Ferme Pédagogique d’Ecancourt
RER A Cergy Le Haut, then BUS 48, stop Ecancourt
Another small working farm where children can become acquainted with animals—cows, goats, chickens, etc. They also sell fresh eggs, chickens, rabbit, and goats cheese produced on the farm.
Hours: Check website before you go, the hours vary by day and season
La Ferme de Clamart
28, Rue Gabriel Péri
92140, Clamart dans le parc Maison Blanche
Offering "open days", weekly ateliers and birthday parties for children with animals including goats, sheep, rabbits and chickens to greet them. See website for the atelier schedule.
Hours: check website, the hours vary by season
Entrance fees: Adults/children €2, kids under 3 free
Les Fermes de Gally, St Cyr Location
Route de Bailly à Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole (CD7)
25km southwest of Paris, it is possible to walk 10 min to the farm from the new T13 Allee Royale stop
A historic, family-owned farm with a cueillette to pick your own fruits and vegetables (with a playground with swings and tractor), and up the road is the animal farm, farm shop and restaurant. The farm hosts great ateliers for children such as butter making, honey harvesting, bread making, etc. It also hosts birthday parties.
Picnic tables near the parking lot, restaurant on site (make reservations especially on the weekend). It also has a fabulous garden and home store with a small grocery section which sells the farm products, and a wine cave.
Special activities on Wednesdays and weekends, and special events linked to the
major holidays like an autumn labyrinth and pumpkin carving.
Hours: Check website for atelier hours and to reserve a ticket, hours for the farm vary by day and are different during school vacances
Entrance to the farm fees: Adults and kids over 12 €5.30, children 3-11 €4.90, kids under 3 free
Entrance to the farm and atelier per kid fee: €10.60
Entrance to the cueillette is free, parking is free too
Les Fermes de Gally, Sartrouville Location
Ferme de Sartrouville
33, rue de Chatou
Bus: From Gare de Sartrouville 501 & 503 stop "Clémenceau" or 5, 501, 502, 503; stop "Boulevard de Bezons"
Tour the educational farm with your children and see small animals like dwarf goats and rabbits, as well as horses and donkeys.
Entrance fees: Adults and kids over 12 €5.30, children 3-11 €4.90, kids under 3 free
Hours: Check website, the hours vary by day, and they are have special hours during school vacances
Les Fermes de Gally, Saint Denis Location
114, avenue de Stalingrad
METRO: Ligne 13 - Saint-Denis Université
Bus: 253 Henri-Barbusse stop or 255 Clos Hanot stop
Visit the urban farm in Saint Denis which includes animals and bread-making ateliers for both kids and adults. Reserve your ticket online for entry or ateliers, or buy in person.
Entrance fees: Adults and kids over 12 €5.10, children 3-11 €3.20, kids under 3 free
Ateliers are a €4.40 supplement
Hours: Check website for hours, they vary by day and season
La Bergerie Nationale
Parc du Château
54km southwest of Paris
Louis XVI set up this grande ferme in 1785 for experimenting with different species, including Spanish merino sheep, Swiss cows, African sheep, Angora goats, Belgian and Arabian horses, etc. Explore the farm on your own, or join the daily guided tour at 2:30pm. Take a horse drawn carriage tour (balades en calèche) of the farm. They allow daily viewing of milking cows at 4:30pm and feeding the animals at 5:00pm. There is also a farm boutique selling its own products and cafe.
Entrance fees: Adults and kids over 12 €7, children 3-12 €5, kids under 3 free, carriage-ride is €8, annual passes available
Hours: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, 2pm-6pm
Other Animal Activities
Equestrian Shows at the Château de Versailles
View an elaborately choreographed equestrian ballet, performed by the National Equestrian Academy, in the historic stables of the Château de Versailles-which is also to be the location of the equestrian events at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Children under 5 not allowed.
Duration : 1h followed by a free tour of the stables
Price : from €16 to €28, book online in advance
Hours: Every weekend, Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 3pm. Exceptional performances on Wednesdays during the short school holidays, at 3pm.
Ecole de Chiens Guides de Paris
105, avenue de Saint-Maurice
Located just in front of le Rocher du Zoo de Vincennes
Inaugurated in 1987 by the Mairie de Paris, the guide dog training centre in the Bois de Vincennes has open houses (portes ouvertes) once a year (typically in September) where they demonstrate what the dogs can do and how they are trained.
Do you have any favorite animal outings to recommend? Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally published in 'The ABC's of Parenting in Paris' -curated by our members, and filled with insiders' tips and practical information. As part of our drive towards greater sustainable practices, the book is no longer available in print form. This article was updated for 2023 by Annie Kamp. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message. Message cannot be held responsible for any information contained in or omitted from this article.