Sigean - safari park in southern France
Coordinates / 43.02917,2.97833
Country / France
Region / Languedoc-Roussillon
Population / 2,700,266
Van Gogh's paintings in Arles, blooming lavender in Grasse, the many sunbathers, lying on the beaches of the Cote d'Azur, which is what comes to mind when we hear the phrase South of France. However, lions, crocodiles, buffalos, rhinos, and elephants roam in the bushes, as if they were in their own native Africa. You will not believe it, but it is the same in France. Take a journey with us on an exciting safari in Europe.
The Reserve Sigean is a unique African wildlife safari park in the south of France. The park was opened by Paul de La Panouse and Daniel de Monfreid in the 70s, near the town of Narbonne, which is about 15km to the south, at the mouth of Berre river on the edge of the Bague - Sigean salt'lake. Built in the previously uninhabited region of Languedoc - Roussillon with a view to increase the local population, this area is rich in flora and fauna.
The protected area of Sigean is about 300 hectares and is the home to more than 3,800 animals, most of them originally from Africa.
Sigean Reserve is famous because of the fact that there are none of the usual cages in which their inhabitants are caged in cramped conditions. All the animals are kept in conditions which reflect as closely as possible their native environment, where they roam freely. Therefore, the park is divided into two parts: an area only accessible by car and a pedestrian zone.
In the drive-through we can see such animals as gazelles, buffalos, impalas, zebras, giraffes, gibbons, bears, rhinos, lions etc.
Since the animals living in this area may be dangerous, there are very strict safety rules for visitors, with many warning signs along every step of the route.
Convertibles, motorbikes, bicycles are not allowed. Moreover, it is strictly forbidden to open windows and doors during the visit, it is also prohibited to stop near the animals such as lions, bears and rhinoceroses. There is the speed limit of 6 - 10 kilometres an hour (walking pace). Leaving a vehicle even in a case of an emergency is not allowed, visitors must stay in the vehicle and beep the horn - assistance will soon arrive. The barriers between the various parts of the park are constructed using trenches with special bridges which prevent different wild animals from straying into other areas. In cases where visitors do not have their own transport, it is possible to hop on to a local minibus provided by Sigean Reserve.
It is worth remembering that the lions leave the open areas at 6:30 pm in summer and at 4:00 pm in winter.
And in order to make it easier to navigate around the park ask for an information pack at the box office while purchasing tickets.
Everything gets easier in the area visited on foot. Visitors may walk here, enjoying the rare animals, migratory birds and beautiful scenery. If one remembers to follow the simple rules: "no feeding of animals, no littering and remain on the paths" such a stroll is definitely going to prove to be an amazing experience.
Here alligators, monkeys, black swans, cheetahs, ostriches, elephants, mouflons, kangaroos, meerkats, wild dogs, cloven-hoofed animals of different kinds, pink flamingos and rare birds may be found. However, it is useful to remember that the chimpanzees, giraffes, and elephants are hiding in their shelters from around 4:30 - 6:45 pm, sometimes even earlier in winter and in case of bad weather.
Visiting the Reserve is a pleasant way to spend the day, visitors can use the car parks, baby room, bar, cafe and restaurants, picnic area, souvenir shop, educational room, toilets and even a defibrillator.
In order to experience the entire park, it is recommended that one schedule at least three hours, but, in practice, the visit may last much longer when a lunch break is included.
The administration of the Reserve strongly recommends the “Rendez-Vous” by witnessing the feeding of the animals, use the following schedule:
Buffalos: 9:30-10:00 am.
Squirrel monkeys: 12:30 am - 1:00pm.
Pelicans feeding on the lake Oeil de Ca: 1:00 - 2:00pm.
Wild dogs 4:00 - 5:00 pm during the summer, winter feeding time is earlier.
The most convenient form of transport for getting there is by private car or guided tour bus. The road runs through the picturesque vineyards and bays. It is common to meet not only French tourists but also visitors from neighbouring Spain since the distance from Barcelona to Sigean is nearly 300 km on a flat highway via the city of Perpignan, which only takes a few hours.
When crossing the border between Spain and France, one needs to be sure to have the correct documents, because the French border control carries out random checks.
The entrance fee ( 2016 ) - 32 euros for adults and 23 euros for children, there is a family annual subscription and group discounts.
One can arrange a customised tour through the web page of the Reserve Africaine Sigean.
Opening hours of the Reserve Sigean:
9:00am - 6:30pm in summer
9:00am - 4:00pm in winter.
Address: Reserve Africaine de Sigean
RD 6009 – 19, Chemin Hameau du Lac
11130 Sigean - France
To view the entire gallery of Reserve Africaine de Sigean, click here.
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