Home » Destinations » France » The Marvellous Monkey Forest in Rocamadour – (inc. video)

Watch the Monkey Forest Fun (Video)

When an animal looks into your eyes, something special happens. But that special moment is even more precious when the eyes that look back, are so like your own that you feel a connection. There exists a recognition of a long lost divide, that stirs your soul and sparks curiosity and a longing to understand these animals that seem to mimic so much of ourselves.

Baby Barbary Macaque eating at the Monkey Forest rocamadour

The Monkey Forest Rocamadour (Foret des Singes in French), is the perfect place to indulge your curiosity and to interact with these special Barbary Macaque monkeys.

Baby monkey sat beside mum monkey eating acorns at monkey forest Rocamadour
Baby monkey at monkey forest Rocamadour
Baby monkey eating some fruit at foret des singes

Foret des Singes Research Centre

Although also a tourist attraction, the Foret des Singes is a Research Centre. The Barbary Macaque monkeys are an endangered species, with only about 8000 still living wild. Therefore, the Rocamadour Monkey Forest is studying the social behaviour of the Barbary Macaques and also has a breeding program.

The natural habitat of these monkeys is in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria. And thanks to the breeding program at Foret des Singes, groups of monkeys are able to be released back into the wild there.

Two monkeys cuddling with baby monkey head popping through the middle

Spot the baby monkey having a feed?

Baby monkey looking at an acorn at the Rocamadour Monkey Forest

Rocamadour Monkey Forest Environment

There are about 150 Barbary Macaques in the 20-acre Monkey Forest.  You follow a 1.3km trail around the park as you mingle among the monkeys. The Barbary Macaques, here at the Foret des Singes, live in three distinct groups. One group lives in the more open area near the entrance, while another group inhabit the thicker forested area a little further on. The third group live around the rocky area further along the trail.

three monkeys in a tree at the Rocamadour Monkey forest

Family time at the Monkey Forest Rocamadour

close up of barbary macaque at Rocamadour Monkey Forest

At the Monkey Forest, there are guides all along the route, so you can stop and ask them any questions you have about the monkeys. There is also a feeding session every 45 minutes or so where the monkeys are fed fruits and seeds. The guide also gives a talk about the Barbary Macaques at the Monkey Forest.

As the monkeys are all around you at the Foret des Singes, it is important to not get too close. You are asked to keep at least a metre between you and the monkey. However, having the chance to offer them your popcorn means that you will have a small monkey hand reach out to you and gently take it from you.

Monkey taking popcorn from shelley's hand at foret des singes

‘Popcorn? Don’t mind if I do!’

Barbary macaque monkey sat on a wall at the foret des singes
Lars taking a photo of a monkey at the monkey forest
Baby monkey eating at the foret des singes
Monkey eating a piece of popcorn at foret des singes

Monkey Forest Rocamadour Experience

On arrival at the  Monkey Forest (Foret des Singes, , you will be given a handful of popcorn which you can feed to the monkeys. However, these need to be kept in your hand and not in pockets. This is to discourage the monkeys for foraging food from your person.

If you are already readers of our blog, you will know that we love nature encounters and having the privilege to be so close to these Rocamadour monkeys was just awesome. We could have stayed all day watching their antics. This was particularly true of the babies and young monkeys, who played around just like little kids.

I watched one little pair chase each other and roll in the grass for ages before what looked like mum monkey come over and calm them down by promptly sitting one of them on her lap. The little monkey squirmed just like a toddler to be let go, but mum wasn’t having any of it.

Two baby monkeys playing on the grass at the Monkey forest
Two baby monkeys on a wall at the Monkey Forest Rocamadour
baby monkey on its mothers back at Rocamadour  monkey forest
Baby monkey at foret des singes

The older monkeys seemed quite happy to laze around grooming and watching the antics of the youngsters. Some monkeys wait on the side of the paths to entice you to give them your popcorn, whilst a few lay right in the middle of the path, seemingly unperturbed by visitors having to walk around them.

barbary macaque monkey  sat on the tourist trail path

Rocamadour Barbary Macaque Monkeys

Monkey Bonding

The Barbary Macaque are very group oriented and you will no doubt see many of them grooming each other. This cleaning ritual not only helps with hygiene but is also an important part of their social bonding. These monkeys also have a strong bond with their babies. Both the mother and father of a baby monkey take part in rearing and protecting it.

two barbary macaques grooming each other

Grooming each other is a show of affection and bonding

mum, dad and baby monkey sat on grass

One little happy family of monkeys at Foret des Singes

Barbary Macaque: Threatened Species

As mentioned previously, the Foret des Singes is a conservation centre and working to protect this threatened species. The Barbary Macaques have become endangered due to deforestation in North Africa and also due to the increase in the pet trade and photo prop trade in Morocco. Many young babies are taken to perform tricks or traded as pets. (See Barbary Macaque awareness and Conservation on Facebook for more details).

Banner saying just say no to tourist photos with photo prop monkeys

When we were in Marrakesh, Morocco, we saw many tourists paying to have their photo with a monkey. The monkey had a lead and was chained around its neck. I don’t think the tourists realise the harm that they are doing.  Moreover, I am sure that most would be horrified to know that they are contributing to the endangerment of these monkeys. That is why these centres, such as the Rocamadour Foret des Singes, are so important because they also educate the public and spread awareness of the Barbary Macaque plight.

It is much better to see these wild animals in their natural habitat or in conservation centres which replicate their natural environment.  We were lucky enough to first see wild Barbary Macaques in their own habitat in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains at Ouzoud Falls, Morocco.

Monkey Forest: How to Get There

Rocamadour Map

The Rocamadour Monkey Forest, Foret des Singes, is just outside the medieval town of Rocamadour.

Address: ‘La Forêt des Singes’ – 46500 Rocamadour

SAT NAV coordinates: N 44°48’13’’/E 1°38’02’’

Monkey Forest Opening Hours

The Foret des Singes is open from the end of March to the beginning of November. Opening hours vary depending on the month that you visit so it is best to check their website for details.

Monkey Forest Prices

Adults 9,00 €
Children (5-14 yrs) 5,50 €
Free for the under-5s
Adult concession 8,00 €
Child concession (from 5 to 14) 4,50 €

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As always, if you have any questions or would like some more information and you think we may be able to help, please contact us. We are always happy to hear from you.:)

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