Somewhere along the line I picked up a leaflet for this place, and having not visited a zoo or wildlife park in at least a decade, I thought it might be rather fun to go when my brother came over. This chateau is not far from Combourg so only about half an hour's drive from home.
So a few weeks back we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon spent here. I was quite surprised by the chateau itself, which is quite a big 'posh' one for these parts!
You can pay extra if you wish to have a guided tour of the chateau (which we didn't) or just pay to visit the zoo and the attractions. A whole afternoon is needed if you want to make the most of it. You could eke it out to a whole day if you take a picnic as there are picnic areas and a large playground area for kids with bouncy castles etc (I wasn't allowed - not by the staff I hasten to add, but by my OH!).
Foodwise - well the leaflet said there was a restaurant, so originally I thought we'd go and eat there. Until I discovered the menu on their website. OK, if you really fancy ham sandwich, ham salad, ham and chips, sausage and chips or saucisse galette then fine. If not, take a picnic!
I'm not going to show lots of animals and birds here. Suffice to say, there is plenty to see, and we were pleasantly surprised that the areas/compounds that the animals were in were large and well landscaped, with plenty of moats around keeping some of the animals in rather than cages - hence so many fairly tame moorhens about, which I showed on this blog a few weeks back!
My favourite by far were the Meerkats though! They seem to do a mixture of posing for the camera, snuggling up together, playing and digging. Their run was sand and boy do they dig - some seemed to be desperate to dig their way out and were making deep holes at the base of the thick wooden stakes lining their run and I could see paws and snouts coming through the gaps between the stakes! Great fun and I could have watched them all day.
The leaflet mentioned a new aviary which you could walk into and experience various birdlife from South America, but it was a bit disappointing with only 3 different species of bird. However the lemur enclosure was great fun. A huge open space that was well caged around the outside which you enter via double doors and there you can walk amongst all the different kinds of lemurs who will sit and pose for you, even beside you! (I do have a photo of my brother sitting beside one but I won't post it as I know he would not be pleased about it!)
There are other things to see as well as the main bit of zoo. This year they have started a new potager project - as you can see it is very much in its infancy but is a huge walled area that should look stunning and very productive in a few years time, with espaliered fruit trees, veggies and flowers side by side. There was only one guy working there when we visited and I could see it would take a team of people to look after (I was secretly rather pleased to see lots of weeds - and blighted tomatoes!).
Various displays are on several times a day, such as the flying display of (mostly) birds of prey which we were interested in, and a display of hunting dogs (spaniels of some kind, probably Breton, and beagles) which we were not. Later in the afternoon there's 'feeding time at the zoo' but we didn't stay for that. They have a huge variety of birds of prey which was interesting to watch but each bird's display was rather brief. It wasn't as good as the show at Rocamadour which we'd visited donkey's years ago where my OH took a photo of a hawk of some kind sitting perched on the top of my head! But it was still good fun.
Don't ask me what all the birds are - I think the first one here is a vulture and there were various birds swooping in from here, there and everywhere including owls. The ones at the end are storks, beside the guy doing the commentary. My OH took these photos as he had the big camera with the telephoto lens - personally I'd rather just have my little pocket camera to slip into my bag whilst we are out and about, but realise now comparing photos that at a zoo a decent camera with TP lens is quite necessary.
Front view of the chateau from the moat. The drive way went on a long, long way beyond this! I didn't think much of the chateau's gardens though - this is pretty much the extent of interest, apart from those triangular topiary bushes in some of the bird of prey shots above, which were in a garden off to the side.
One last thing, having said (in not so many words) not very nice things about their 'restaurant' menu, there is something that was wonderful! At the snackbar beside the restaurant area they had an ice cream machine that looked a bit like a Mr Whippy type machine, dispensing gelato! It wasn't called gelato (or Mr Whippy; this is France after all) but if you've ever eaten real gelato in Italy you will know how different it is to normal ice cream - somewhere like a mix between sorbet and ice cream. Anyway, it was delicious and I'm so glad I had one.
There's another snackbar over by the children's play area and bouncy castles as well, so plenty of places to get drinks, ice cream and snacks.
The entrance fee at €18 per adult was quite pricey but I guess everything costs these days, and these are not things we do often, so it was well worth it, in my opinion.
Opening times, prices, location and all the information you need at their website: