If an outdoor, family fun activity is on the agenda, then I highly recommend the Jardin Zoologique Tropical when visiting Provence. This 5 hectare park has more than 250 animal species including lemurs, meerkats, wallabies, monkeys and a plethora of exotic, and in some cases, rare bird species. The park is also home to a wide variety of plants from all over the world. Take an afternoon off from a hectic travel schedule and enjoy a relaxing afternoon visit that everyone in the family will love.
The Preservation of Endangered Species
The Jardin Zoologique Tropical was started in 1989 and is known for its work in helping to save endangered species of animals. Today, it is a member of the French Zoological Parks association and participates in breeding animals that are near extinction or soon to be.
Each year the park welcomes dozens of new births. This has become a cornerstone of the zoological park on which they have built their reputation. The park does not influence in any way the breeding or natural care of the young. The animals are left to behave as they do in the wild. Once the babies reach adulthood, they either stay in the park to live out their natural life, or are transferred to other parks in France and around the world in order to help preserve certain species that are endangered.
The Many Exotic Birds
If you are a bird-lover then this is the place of discovery for you. The many different species of exotic birds is a treasure find here. Many of these birds will never be seen by humans with the exception of places like this that are dedicated to their continued preservation. I was utterly amazed to see, on such a large scale, birds of every color and size that I would have never known about had I not visited. You could just stand gazing at them for hours while listening to the beautiful songs they sing and marvel at the brilliant colors they wear. Several species are sleeping, and or quiet during the afternoon, but then there are others that see you coming and will fly around and entertain you with their songs. Some even do little dances for you and others will come close and “talk” to you. It’s absolutely amazing to see.
The Many Animals in the Park
Besides all the magnificent birds in the park, you will also get to see lemurs, meerkats, monkeys, turtles, goats, donkeys, etc. These are scattered around the park and in between the different bird exhibits. Just like the birds, each of these animals will put on a show for you. I found that besides the turtles (which happened to be my favorite animal in the world) the meerkats were by far the most entertaining group to see. They played, showed off and ran around the whole time we watched them.
Many Exotic Plant Species
The Jardin Zoological Tropical is also home to a wonderful variety of flora and fauna from all over the world. The exceptional climate in Provence, known for its mild winters and more than 177 days of sunshine a year, allows for a paradise for many different exotic plants and trees.
As you stroll through 4265 feet of outdoor walkways that is right in the middle of 55000 m2 of forests and exotic gardens, you will see that Eucalyptus trees and Mimosa trees live in harmony with the natural vegetation of Scrub Oaks and Strawberry plants. There are also several areas that have been laid out with cacti, yucca plants and agave plants. With the added mix of bamboo plants and palm trees, you get a tropical, south of the border feeling. Much of the plant life comes from the Americas, countries bordering the Mediterranean, China, and Australia.
Best Time to Visit
I personally think the very best time to visit is in the afternoon because this is the time of day when you will get to see certain animals being feed along with a commentary by one of the “zoo” keepers. Here I use the word, zoo, lightly because the park is not really a zoo in the traditional sense of the word.
The feeding and commentary times are as follows:
~~3:20pm- The Lemurs
~~3:50pm- The donkeys and goats. This is a real treat for the kids because they are the ones that get to be up close to feed hay to the animals
The park makes it easy to see all three of the above. A zoo keeper will go around and let everyone know to first meet over at the cages of the lemurs. Once your there, you simply follow him along to the donkeys and goats and then to the meerkats. It’s like being in your own, private, little tour.
NOTE: These times are subject to change depending on the time of year you go. When purchasing tickets at the front entrance be sure to mention that you would like to see the feedings and they will give you the times for that day.
If You Want to Have a Picnic
There is a very nice picnic area with tables just near the area where the donkeys and goats are kept. You are welcome to bring your food and enjoy the peaceful outdoors. Please do not, however, feed the animals. There is also a play are for kids. There are no restaurants or snack shops at that park so you must bring all your own food.
Opening Days and Hours
~From 01 June to 30 September: every day from 10am to 7pm
~From 01 to 31 October and from 01 March to 31 May: every day from 2 to 6 pm
~From 01 November to 29 February: Saturday, Sunday, public holidays (except 25 December and 01 January), school holidays, from 2 pm to 5 pm
NOTE: For the security of everyone and the protection of the animals, the park will not be open on days where there is intense cold, strong winds or heavy rains.
Ticket Prices (2017)
~Adults and children over 12 years: 11 €
~Children between 2 to 12 years: 7 €
~Child under 2 years: Free
Payment is accepted by bank card or cash
583 Route de Saint Honoré
83250 La Londe-les-Maures
Telephone : +33 (0)4 94 35 02 15
Internships for a ½ day
One of the really neat things you can do is a ½ day internship at the park. You must be at least 16 years old to participate and the internship takes place in the afternoon between 2pm and 5:30pm from the 1st of March to the 31st of October. The cost is 70€ per person.
Accompanied by a zoo keeper, you will get to take care of several different animals throughout the day including actual care, food preparation, feeding and cleaning. Who knows, you might even discover what you want to be when you grow up!
As always, I would love to hear how your adventure went so please let me know by leaving me a comment below.
The location map, along with my Google Local Guide review, is here.