MONKEY FOREST FRANCE – ROCAMADOUR’S FORET DES SINGES
France is teeming with medieval towns, historic buildings, enchanting chateaux and is home to one of the most romanticised cities in the world, Paris. Therefore, the last thing we expected to find whilst travelling through Europe in our campervan was a Monkey Forest in Rocamadour, France.
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 an intense connection.
There exists a recognition of a long lost divide.
It stirs your soul, sparks curiosity and a yearning to understand these animals.
These animals, that mimic so much of ourselves.
The Monkey Forest in Rocamadour France, (Foret des Singes in French), is the perfect place to indulge your curiosity and to interact with these special Barbary Macaque monkeys.
WATCH THE MONKEY FOREST FUN (VIDEO)
THE MONKEY FOREST FRANCE EXPERIENCE
There are about 150 Barbary Macaques in the 20-acre Monkey Forest in the centre of France. A 1.3 km trail guides you around the park as you mingle among the many monkeys homed here.
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 from foraging for food on your person.
The Barbary Macaques here at the Foret des Singes live in three distinct family groups:
- One group lives in the more open area near the entrance,
- Another group inhabit the thicker forested area and
- The third group live around the rocky area near the end of the trail.
At the Rocamadour 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 here at the Monkey Forest.
As the monkeys are all around you, it is important to not get too close. You are asked to keep at least a metre between you and a monkey. However, having the chance to offer them your popcorn means that you will have several eager little hands reach out and gently relieve you of your popcorn stash.
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 monkeys in France 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 their mum came over and calmed 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.
The older monkeys at the monkey forest seemed happy to laze around grooming and watching the antics of the youngsters. Some monkeys waited on the side of the paths, positioning themselves for first dibs on the popcorn. Others lay right in the middle of the path, seemingly unperturbed by visitors having to walk around them.
MONKEY FOREST FRANCE, RESEARCH CENTRE
Although also a tourist attraction, the Monkey Forest, 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, as well as running 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.
ABOUT THE BARBARY MACAQUE MONKEYS
The Barbary Macaques 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.
BARBARY MACAQUES ARE A THREATENED SPECIES
As mentioned previously, the Foret des Singes is a conservation centre 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).
When we were in Marrakesh, Morocco, we saw many tourists paying to have their photo taken with a monkey. The monkey had a lead and was chained around its neck.
I think many tourists are unaware of the harm that they are doing when they pay for a photo with a monkey. Moreover, I am sure that they 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’s plight.
It is much better to see these wild animals in their natural habitat or in conservation centres that 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. However, if you read that post, you will see that experience itself was not in the best interest of the animals.
I believe we, and indeed society, are becoming much more aware of the impact of tourism and human interaction with wildlife.
There is a fine line between conservation and exploitation, and we must be more mindful of how our actions affect the natural world.
MONKEY FOREST: GOOD TO KNOW
MONKEY FOREST FRANCE MAP
The Rocamadour Monkey Forest, or Foret des Singes, is just outside the medieval town of Rocamadour.
Monkey Forest 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 each year 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 CAR PARK
The Monkey Forest in France has a large car park and parking is free.
MONKEY FOREST PRICES
|Children (5-14 yrs)||5,50 €|
|Free for the under-5s|
|Adult concession||8,00 €|
|Child concession (from 5 to 14)||4,50 €|
MONKEY FOREST FRANCE PARK MISC INFORMATION
- The Monkey forest is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs
- Just outside the park are a picnic area, snack and gift shop
- No pets are allowed in the park (but are allowed in the picnic area
- The only food allowed in the park is the popcorn you are given on arrival
THINGS TO DO IN ROCAMADOUR
While you are in the area of Rocamadour, in the Dordogne, you may be interested in visiting the old medieval town centre perched on a cliff above the River. It is famous for its pilgrimage churches and oozes medieval charm with its old half-timbered houses.
Here are a couple of trips that include the village of Rocamadour and other local attractions:
Monkey Forest in France … That’s a Wrap
As always, if you have any questions and you think we may be able to help, please contact us.
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