We visited the fantastic estate of La Bourbansais on our first trip to Brittany. Located halfway between Saint-Malo and Rennes, the site welcomes almost 140,000 visitors annually.
From the first moment we set foot on the estate, it was easy to see why it was so popular. After all, La Bourbansais has it all: a magnificent château, stunning gardens and a fascinating zoo. So follow us on our visit to La Bourbansais!
The estate of La Bourbansais
Before visiting La Bourbansais, ensure you have some information about the site you are about to visit. The estate comprises three distinct areas:
- The historic château dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.
- The French-style gardens and its fabulous kitchen garden. These also include an exciting play area for children and a plant maze.
- The zoo, the best-known part of the estate, attracts families who come to admire 400 animals worldwide.
In addition, La Bourbansais offers two flagship events, focussing on birds and dogs.
Access to the domain
- To get there by car, take the D137 expressway from Rennes to Saint-Malo.
- Take exit C10 towards Pleugueneuc/ Plesder/ Evran
- Continue on the D637, then follow the signs to the estate.
You will enter the estate via a beautiful tree-lined driveway. At the far end is the car park and entrance to the zoo.
The chateau of La Bourbansais
As soon as we arrived at La Bourbansais, we positioned ourselves in the centre of the vista to admire the beautiful south-facing facade of the château.
A historic castle
This imposing building was built at the end of the 16th century and enlarged in the 18th century on a vast estate occupied since the Gallo-Roman times. Since 1583, twenty generations of the same family have succeeded one another. The current owner, Count Olivier de Lorgeril, is a direct descendant of Sir Jean du Breil, the builder of the Renaissance château.
Previous owners have included members of parliament under the Monarchy and the Republic, members of the Compagnie des Indes and officers of the Royal Navy. So it's hardly surprising to find a wealth of memorabilia, curiosities, silver and gold, and interesting furniture dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
In addition, six magnificent Aubusson tapestries still cover the walls of the reception rooms.
The tour traces the history of the château and some of its inhabitants, but it also brings to life everyday life in the past in such a residence. You will learn exciting anecdotes and short stories to bring life to the historic place.
Good to know about your visit
- The château tour lasts 40 minutes.
- This is a guided tour.
- A supplement will be charged on site: €6 per adult and €3 per child (2023).
- For tour times, visit the website.
The gardens of La Bourbansais
The gardens of La Bourbansais, listed as a Historical Monument, are reminiscent of the classicism of the great parks designed by Le Nôtre, particularly the French-style gardens. The vast kitchen garden, used for food and pleasure, has been restored in keeping with the 17th-century archival plans of the château.
The Kitchen Garden
Inspired by the "Potager du Roi" (King's Kitchen Garden) at Versailles, the Potager de La Bourbansais aims to become a fundamental educational tool for its visitors.
You can visit it on your own or with a guide (on a 20 minute-visit) to learn more about fruit and vegetables and their many anecdotes and virtues.
In mid-June, the well-tended garden was magnificent with its flowers and plants.
The botanical walk
The botanical walk is a detailed and instructive display of the main species of trees and shrubs, with a variety reminiscent of the Thabor garden in Rennes, laid out in its day by a mayor who was none other than... the lord of La Bourbansais!
The playgrounds and plant maze
To the east of the grand perspective is a play area that will delight your children. We took our daughter there in the morning when no one was around!
There are multi-game structures, a zip line, giant inflatables (April to September) and a plant maze (July and August).
In front of the play area, the kiosque à gourmandises has drinks, sandwiches, chips, ice creams, waffles, pancakes, etc.
Good to know about your visit
- Free guided tours of the kitchen garden (le potager) take place from 15 June to 31 August at 11.30 am.
- Free access to all kids on the playgrounds, giant inflatables and maze!
- The snack bar is open from 12.30 pm to 6.30 pm during the holidays, on Wednesdays, weekends and public holidays.
The zoo of La Bourbansais
The zoo covers almost 100 hectares of greenery and is home to over 400 animals of 80 species in a recreated natural environment.
A player in nature conservation
Most of the rare and unusual species are protected by international conventions. The zoo is a member of major European and French organisations.
Indeed, La Bourbansais Zoo is an essential and recognised player in nature conservation. The zoo is involved in more than thirty breeding programmes for endangered species, and every year it supports foundations and associations working to protect natural environments and biodiversity.
The zoo has more than 50 observation points specially designed to get close to the animals.
The animals at La Bourbansais Zoo include wallabies, pelicans, pink flamingos, tigers, zebras, oryx, marabouts, meerkats, cheetahs, panthers, lions, wolves, lynxes, zebus, European mink and giraffes.
In addition, there are dedicated areas where you can get up close and personal with the animals:
The lemur garden
This 4,000 m2 tree-lined area, bordered by a pretty stream, offers a unique opportunity to observe and get up close to three species of lemur, the emblematic animals of Madagascar.
The South American aviary
Set in a natural area of 600 m2, the South American bird aviary allowed us to get up close and personal with red ibises, spoonbills and sloths...
The Elfik forest
This trail is specially designed for children to help them discover the local flora and fauna while having fun in a vast pine forest full of mysteries and discoveries.
Good to know about your visit
- It's a well-known fact when you visit zoos: if you want to better look at the animals, it's best to wait until the end of the day. In the middle of the day, they take a siesta, just like the lions! (see photos above 😉)
- The zoo organises four animal shows daily, during which visitors can watch the zookeepers feeding the animals. Visitors can find the timetables at the zoo entrance, in the restaurant, and in front of the enclosures.
The events in La Bourbansais
It's become a popular tradition over the last few years: the two animal shows are well worth attending.
From 1 April to 1 October, the two shows are :
- Around the world in 80 birds (autour du monde en 80 oiseaux)
- Dogs and men (des chiens et des hommes)
We attended the bird show, a new and exciting experience for Aimée. She'd wanted to see Alsatian white storks for a long time, so she got her wish!
We would have liked to have attended the Dogs and men show but unfortunately time was limited.
Around the world in 80 birds
The thirty-minute show was a veritable aerial ballet, as magical as it was spectacular, with 80 birds representing the five continents flying past each other: eagles, owls, vultures, storks and parrots. The setting for the show was the castle's beautiful outlook.
Dogs and men
In this show, you'll discover the astonishing abilities of dogs in 6 different scenes. From the Border Collie, the legendary sheepdog, to the Greyhounds and their truly madcap races, not forgetting the impressive Belgian Shepherd: you'll learn all the different facets of the aptitudes and lifestyle of man's oldest friend.
Good to know about your visit
- You don't need to be super early to take your place at the shows, especially outside the summer months.
- The bird show occurs twice in the afternoon (2.30 pm and 4.30 pm) and once in September (3 pm).
- The dogs and men show occurs twice in the afternoon (3.30 pm and 5.30 pm) and once in September (4 pm).
- These shows are free as they are included in the admission ticket.
Conclusion to our visit
In conclusion, our family's visit to the La Bourbansais Zoo was an unforgettable experience that offered a captivating blend of education, entertainment, and appreciation for the beauty of wildlife.
From the awe-inspiring sight of majestic animals to the engaging and spectacular animal shows, every moment spent at the zoo was filled with wonder and excitement.
So, whether you're a nature enthusiast, an animal lover, or simply seeking a memorable outing, a trip to the La Bourbansais Zoo will leave you with cherished memories and a renewed sense of wonder for the incredible creatures that share our world.
Not just a zoo...
But La Bourbansais isn't just a zoo. It is, above all, the domain of a famous château straight out of a fairytale. Its formal gardens, kitchen garden and exciting children's play areas make it a popular destination.
Plan your next zoo adventure and embark on a journey that will ignite your curiosity, inspire your compassion, and connect you with the wonders of the natural world.
Thank you for reading this far; I hope we'll make you want to visit La Bourbansais on your next stay in Brittany!
Many thanks to La Bourbansais for welcoming us!
To learn more about the domain and its zoo, visit the official website.