We are 🐯 HUGE ANIMAL LOVERS here at MBFF . . . and we are lucky to share our home with a couple of affectionate (and fairly tolerant!) 🐱🐱 felines.
But perhaps some of you don’t have the home set-up to accommodate animal friends, or perhaps allergies are preventing you from doing so . . .
Luckily – whether you live 🗻 au Pays du Mont-Blanc or you are visiting – you are very likely to spot some local wildlife (chamois, ibex, marmottes . . . eek, perhaps even a lynx or wolf these days?) when out hiking at altitude, away from the noise of humans, especially in the 🗻 Réserves Naturelles du Pays du Mont-Blanc!
We are also lucky enough to have the 🦌 Parc Animalier de Merlet in Les Houches on our doorstep, and some other animal parks not too far away too!
[ ⇒ for more information about 🦓 animal parks further afield (but still within 3h), see separate MBFF article here ]
In this article, you will find information about:
- 🗻 Réserves Naturelles au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
- 🦌 animal parks au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
- 🐺 dog kennels to visit au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
- 🐖 farms to visit en famille au Pays du Mont-Blanc;
- 🇫🇷🦓 animal parks a little further afield;
- 🇨🇭🦎 aquariums, vivariums & tropicariums further afield;
There will be another follow-up article soon, exploring activities for families with animals: canirando, dog-sledding, donkey walks, horse-riding and more . . .
Colour code for listings
Pays du Mont-Blanc
Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Les Houches, Servoz, Argentière & environs (and Vallorcine)
Passy (Plateau d’Assy, Bay, Plaine-Joux, Marlioz, Chedde)
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Le Fayet, Saint Nicolas de Véroce and environs
Megeve & Praz-sur-Arly and environs
Les Contamines-Montjoie and environs
🇫🇷 Further France
NATURE RESERVES & WILDLIFE-SPOTTING IN NATURE
🗻 Au Pays du Mont-Blanc we have FIVE nature reserves:
- 🗻 CHAMONIX VALLEY – La Réserve Naturelles des Aiguilles Rouges, La Réserve Naturelle du Vallon de Bérard & La Réserve Naturelle de Carlaveyron;
- 🗻 PASSY – la Réserve Naturelle de Passy;
- 🗻 LES CONTAMINES-MONTJOIE – La Réserve Naturelle des Contamines-Montjoie;
Being protected reserves, these are super spots for wildlife-spotting, and over the school holidays there are workshops and other animations organised for families (🐾 animal tracks in the snow, 🦌 Le Brame du Cerf . . .).
For centuries, humans made very little impact on our valleys and mountains 🗻 Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . that all changed with the Romantics’ discovery of the beauty of mountains (remember that before the 18th century, mountains and glaciers were largely feared), and the summer and winter tourism that ensued: cable cars, chair-lifts, ski pistes, new roads, railways and big hotels. All this infrastructure of the last two hundred years has put increasing pressure on our ecosystem and has threatened many of our mountain species. With the creation of nature reserves, and the increasing sensitisation of us humans towards the environment and threatened species of flora and fauna, we are trying to redress the precarious balance.
Here are some of the animals you may spot in our open wildlife reserves (or just out and about in the mountains) of the 🗻 Pays du Mont-Blanc: chamois, bouquetins (ibexes), 🦌 deer, 🐗 sangliers, 🦊 foxes, lynx (rare), marmottes, 🦅 royal eagles (rare), gypaètes barbus (rare), 🐍 snakes, 🦎 lizards, 🦋 butterflies, dragon-flies, 🐸 tadpoles and frogs, 🐠 fish . . .
Did you know that we even have a breeding centre for the gypaète barbu, here 🗻 Pays du Mont-Blanc? This now emblematic bird of prey was at one time feared and misunderstood (it actually largely feeds off bones, and NOT live animals as once thought) and it was wiped out by over-hunting at the beginning of the 20th century.
GOOGLE MAP of ANIMAL PARKS
Le Parc Animalier de Merlet (Les Houches)
This 🦌 lovely animal park (located at an altitude of 1500m!) is a fantastic spring to early autumn destination for young walkers, where they can spot 🦌 deer, chamois, bouquetins (ibex), and even 🦙 llamas (!), wandering freely within the parameters of the park!
You you can visit much of the park with a good buggy, but you’ll need a baby-carrier for the higher path.
Also for families, you’ll find a sand-pit, a parcours ludique, and a restaurant on-site. There are special events over the summer months and some winter outings are also scheduled!
🗓 opening dates: 1st May until end of September;
[ ⇒ for more information about the Parc Animalier de Merlet, see separate MBFF article ]
🦌 Domaine le Coulairon – élevage de rennes (Megève)
🦌 Reindeer in the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, I hear you cry, and YES – here you can visit the élevage! Read about the story behind these reindeer here.
There are two formules available (you need to book in advance): visit + goûter, and visit and lunch (in a typical Finnish Kota!).
You can also visit the 🐐 bergerie;
🗓 opening dates: ❄️ winter season (SHUT over the summer!);
website & FB page reservations address: 1850, route de la Côte 2000, Megève / tel: 06 80 57 21 94;
You can also visit these 🐶 dog kennels au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond):
Élevage de Saint-Bernards (Les Houches)
At this kennel (chenil) located between Servoz and Les Houches, you’ll learn about the beautiful and fascinating 🐶 Saint-Bernard breed (originally from Asia, they were introduced to Europe and the Alps by the Romans; the remoteness of alpine valleys explains the conservation of the breed!) on a guided tour by the owners;
🗓 opening hours: 10h to 11h30 and 14h to 18h in July and August and the rest of the year 10h to 11h30 and 14h to 17h (shut on Sundays and Monday morning and for a period in autumn) – do give them a call before visiting as they sometimes close in the event of bad weather!
website address: 223 chemin des Vorziers, La Fontaine, 74310, Les Houches (access: Aire de la Fontaine) / tel: +33 (0)4 50 47 23 60;
Parc du Chien Polaire (Le Parc de Loisirs des Pontets, Les Contamines-Montjoie)
With over 20 years of experience in the Grand Nord Sibérien, 🐺 les Voyageurs de l’Hiver will share their passion with you: huskies, the life of a pack, the equipment used . . .
If you walk through the Domaine Nordique, you can often hear the dogs !
Chenil 3D Nordic (Flumet)
🐺 3D Nordic has moved its winter dog-sledding to Swedish Lapland, but from 🗓 April until September, they can be found near the 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, with canirando and visits to their kennels in Flumet (just after Praz-sur-Arly). You’ll be treated to explanations about their 30+ chiens de traîneau – mainly Siberian and Alaskan huskies. At one stage, my elder son knew all the names by heart!
price for visit of chenils: 10€ per person (photos and cuddles welcome);
Sandrine and Jonathon (and their new baby!) are passionate about their dogs and their work as mushers (Sandrine has won many prizes for her work as a musher – Championne du Monde, 4x Championne de France)
reserve to visit: +33 6 11 66 35 04 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
[ good to know: from late spring until September, you can do canirando with 3D Nordic! ]
website address: 387 impasse du Rocher, 73590, Flumet;
Barryland – Musée et Chiens du Saint Bernard (Martigny)
This museum is also a centre d’élevage de Saint-Bernards and a couple of times a year, you can see 🐶 a litter of puppies sensitising to the world.
The museum itself is set across three floors, with the ground floor devoted to its Saint-Bernard dogs. Visitors can view the dogs in their kennels and there is a large outdoor space where they play. At various stages during the day, there are some “ meet and greet ” moments with the dogs. On the first floor, visitors can learn about the history of the Great Saint-Bernard Pass and on the second floor there is an interactive exhibition about Saint-Bernard dogs, perfect for children (the museum organises 🎨 family activities and workshops on this floor).
good to know: there is an incredible Easter egg hunt here on Easter Monday (tried and tested and so, so, so enjoyed by the MBFF team!), a visit from le Père Noël at Christmastime and Barry Day !
🗓 opening hours: every day (except 24th & 25th December) 10h to 18h;
price: CHF12 and children 8+ years CHF7;
[ ⇒ for more information, see for more information about Barryland, see separate MBFF article ]
website address: Fondation Barry - Barryland - Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard, rue du Levant 34, 1920, Martigny, Switzerland / tel: +41 (0)27 720 49 20;
Musée de l’hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard & kennels (Col du Saint-Bernard)
Meet 🐶 the famous dogs at the chenil, which is located opposite the museum . . . and then at the museum, learn about the history of the col!
opening dates: open from the summer until October, when the dogs head back down to the warmer valley floor!
There are several farms to visit 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc, with farm products to buy directly from their shops . . .
You can also visit some of these farms, with bookings either directly with the farm, or through the local tourist office.
🐰 La Ferme les Montagnards (Ormaret, Combloux)
This pedagogic farm receives lots of crèche, garderie and school visits and has FAMILY VISITS 🗓 scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer holidays.
[ ⇒ read more about 🐰 La Ferme les Montagnards in MBFF article here ]
🐮 Ferme le Gaec Val Mont-Blanc (Combloux)
At the Paget family farm you can do 🧀 cheese-making and tasting at this dairy farm;
FB page address: 777 route de Saint-Gervais, Gemoëns, 74920, Combloux / tel (reservations): 06 16 33 71 74;
🐑 Chèvrerie Les Cabrettes (Sallanches)
There are FREE guided visits here at this goat farm located on the hillside at St Roch / flock: 100 chèvres alpines chamoisées, 45 chevrettes, 6 boucs, 2 ânesses / 🧀 cheese for sale every day (except Sunday morning) 10h to 12h and 16h30 to 18h30;
website address: Ferme des Cabrettes, 74700, Sallanches / reservations: 04 50 47 87 87 or 06 30 01 80 73;
🐂 La Ferme de l’Aberieux (Cordon)
Nestled at the start of a walking path, this farm has 25 milking cows from the Tarentaise breed / 🧀 sale of cheese: tomme de Savoie, bleu fermier, raclette de Savoie, fromage blanc, faisselle, l’abérieux (fromage à pâte molle), yogurts, confiture de lait and butter. Albert can show you how to make cheese in the morning (reservations required) and cow milking from 17h30 (participation: 3€ and free for under 12s);
🗓 opening hours for produce: every day except Sunday morning;
website address: 490 chemin du Pont de la Flée, 74700, Cordon / tel: 06 76 12 41 67;
🐑 La Ferme des Roches Fleuries (Saint-Gervais)
You can visit this sheep farm and buy produce too. Bookings are through the tourist office.
. . . and here are some 🐂 super pedagogic farms a little FURTHER AFIELD that my boys have visited with school or garderie ;
🇫🇷🐓 La Ferme de Chosal (Copponex)
An absolutely FABULOUS pedagogic farm, with animals, green-houses, land-art walk (Sentier Art et Nature), workshops, an ethical & social spirit . . . There is a portes ouvertes the first weekend in May, which we went to one year ! Article to come !
🇫🇷🐓 La Ferme Agricool (Saint-Paul-en-Chablais)
My boys have visited this farm a couple of times with garderie and school, a ” mini ferme proposant la découverte d’animaux (18 espèces – 100 animaux) ainsi que des ateliers ludiques sur le thème de la nature. “;
🗓 opening: April until November;
Not too far from the 🗻 Pays du Mont-Blanc are some wonderful 🦌 animal parks :
🇨🇭 Zoo des Marécottes (Marécottes, Switzerland)
The 🦌 Zoo des Marécottes is a super animal park (the highest in Europe at 1100m), nestled among🌲trees and located just over the border in Switzerland. April 2017 saw the birth of a 🐻 baby black bear (Mirus) . . . and 2019 saw the arrival of a couple of wolves.
You can buy food to feed the 🦌 deer and there is a cosy restaurant on-site (check opening hours);
good to know: known for its summer swimming pool set within the rocks, Les Marécottes also has picnic spots, a restaurant on-site, a small playground and animations throughout the year !
🗓 opening dates: all year! (though restaurant has separate opening hours);
getting there: you can take the train from the Chamonix Valley to Les Marécottes!
website & FB page address:Zoo et Piscine des Marécottes, rue des Combasses 3, 1923, Les Marécottes, Switzerland / tel: +41 27 761 15 62;
🇮🇹 arc Animalier d’Introd (Aosta Valley, Italy)
The MBFF family has visited this animal park a couple of times now, once in autumn and once as the first snow arrived – we really enjoyed it!
You’ll see: wolves (a new enlclosure!), 🦌 deer, 🐗 sangliers, 🦊 foxes, raccoons, badgers, 🦉 owls and more . . .
There is a playground on-site and plenty of picnic tables too (no restaurant);
🗓 opening dates: it is open from April until November;
website & FB page address: Parc Animalier d'Introd, Fraz. Villes Dessus, 11010, Introd, Aosta Valley, Italy;
🇫🇷 Les Aigles du Léman (Sciez-sur-Léman)
My elder son visited this park dedicated to 🦅 birds of prey with his garderie, and he RAVED about it upon his return . . . we have yet to visit en famille, but it is on the list! There are lots of spectacles with the birds of prey, and there is a playground and shop on-site.
NEW for summer 2018: Terre des Aigles (the largest aviary for birds of prey in the world!);
eating options: picnic spots, le bar-restaurant La Fauconnerie (self-service), a snack bar;
🗓 opening dates: from early June until 1st September;
website & FB page address: route du Moulin de la Glacière, Domaine du Guidou, 74140, Sciez-sur-Léman / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 72 72 26
good to know – some of the 🦉 owls from this park head over to perform at the fabulous Grand Parc d’Andilly over the summer months (and also at the Grandes Médiévales), where you can also see some 🐑 🐐 🐓 farm animals;
also good to know: you can now spend a night within the park, surrounded by these fascinating birds, at the Lodge!
🇫🇷 Parc d’Hiver des Aigles du Léman (Morzine)
You can now experience 🦅 Les Aigles du Léman in wintertime, in the mountains of Morzine! Le Parc d’Hiver des Aigles du Léman is located at 1500m . . . here, you can have some unique experiences:
- ski down a piste, with an eagle flying above you;
- enjoy a hot chocolate or vin chaud on the terrace, with a condor or eagle flying overhead!
location: above Morzine – Les Gets ski station, on the pointe de Nyon / access: via Téléphérique de Nyon (Morzine) or on skis!
restaurant: there is a restaurant in the cosy chalet and snacks available just opposite!
🗓 opening hours: late December until late March, 9h until 17h;
website address: Les Aigles du Léman – Parc d’hiver, l: +33 (0) 4 50 72 72 26;
🇫🇷 Parc Animalier de la Grande Jeanne (Semnoz, near Annecy)
Annecy’s parc animalier, is located on the route du Semnoz and stretches over 10,500 m², in the forest. You’ll find there: deer, red deer, and mouflons (big-horned sheep). It is FREE to visit!
Annecy also has its own 🐦 volière (aviary) in the Parc Charles-Bosson (just behind the Impérial Palace, and next to a playground). You’ll find there: geese, turkeys, ducks, guinea fowl, pheasants, and peacocks.
🇨🇭 Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de Genève (Geneva)
Open all year-round, we are regular visitors to the 🌷 Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de Genève (CJBG) . . . as well as the beautiful trees, plants and greenhouses, this park has a wonderful wooden playground, a magical carrousel in the warmer months, plentiful grass for running around and picnics and a small FREE animal park with: 🦌 deer, flamingos, peacocks, 🦆 ducks . . .
There is also a restaurant & snack bar on-site.
[ ⇒ see here to read MBFF article about the 🌷 Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de Genève (CJBG) ]
🇨🇭 Parc aux Animaux du Bois-de-la-Bâtie (Geneva)
Set over an area of 2,5 hectares, there are about 300 species of indigenous fauna here, including some endangered species and conservation projects! You’ll find explanatory panels about the animals on your route around the park.
a little history: this animal park was created by a gardener named Maréchal, who had been looking after injured animals from the area since 1945 . . . La Ville de Genève then created a park for animals in 1982, so that locals could get to know their local fauna
good to know: if you head there in spring, you are likely to meet some baby animals!
also nearby: a playground, a pataugeoire in summer, football fields
🗓 opening hours: every day (November to March: 8h to 18h and April to October: 8h to 20h) / FREE to visit!
website address: Le Bois-de-la-Bâtie, chemin de la Bâtie, Geneva, Switzerland;
🇨🇭 Bioparc Genève (Thonex)
” Le Bioparc Genève est le seul endroit du canton où vous pouvez observer de près plus de 250 animaux d’environ 85 espèces différentes, européennes et exotiques, et participer à agir pour leur préservation. Le Bioparc Genève œuvre pour la biodiversité à travers 4 missions clés : la conservation, la recherche, la sensibilisation et l’éducation à l’environnement et la zoothérapie. “