Marvellous Rocamadour Monkey Forest in France (inc. video)

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While travelling through France’s stunning landscapes in our campervan, we discovered an unexpected gem: the Rocamadour Monkey Forest, or Foret des Singes.

In the lush Occitanie region of southern France, the 20-hectare Monkey Forest is home to about 150 free-roaming Barbary Macaques.

This sanctuary mimics their native Atlas Mountains habitat, offering visitors a unique opportunity to watch these playful primates in their natural surroundings.

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Baby macaque is focused totally on the food ©Lifejourney4two

A Special Connection

Amidst the rustling leaves and monkey chatter, our visit to the Monkey Forest was marked by a profound connection. As we gazed into the eyes of the Barbary Macaques, their human-like expressions struck a chord, echoing our own emotions.

Their curious and knowing glances transformed the encounter into a deeply personal and unforgettable experience.

mum-and-2-baby-monkeys-at-sign
Monkey shenanigans at Monkey Forest Rocamadour, France ©Lifejourney4two

🥜 Quick Guide: Discover the Magic of the Rocamadour Monkey Forest (Foret Des Singes) 🥜

Location

Situated in the scenic Occitanie region of Rocamadour, France, this sanctuary provides an intimate view of over 150 Barbary macaques thriving in a lush, natural forest setting that mirrors their native Atlas Mountains.

Experience

Interact directly with the free-roaming macaques to observe their human-like behaviours and complex social interactions, offering a rare glimpse into their daily lives.

Watch Our Video

Watch our engaging video to preview the playful antics and tranquil moments of the Barbary macaques in their natural habitat at the Monkey Forest.

Conservation at Heart

Learn about the efforts to protect these intriguing animals through breeding programs aimed at reintroducing them to their native habitats in North Africa.

Visitor Essentials

  • Hours: Open from March to November.
  • Admission: Adults €11.00, Children (5-14 yrs) €7.00, under 5s free. Discounts available.
  • Amenities: Enjoy convenient facilities, including free parking, accessible paths, picnic areas, and a snack bar.

Why Visit?

At the Monkey Forest, you will experience more than just an encounter. You will contribute to important conservation efforts and deepen your appreciation for wildlife in an environment dedicated to animal welfare and education.

Map-of-foret-des-singes-france location of rocamadour monkey forest
Forêt des Singes, France

Video: Watch Monkey Business in the Monkey Forest

Immerse yourself in the daily life of the Barbary macaques with our exclusive video.

Experience firsthand the charming behaviours and interactions of these fascinating creatures in the serene setting of the Monkey Forest.

Monkey Forest

Planning a Trip to France?

baby-monkey in rocamadour monkey forest
A quiet moment of a macaque youngster ©Lifejourney4two

Map: Forêt des Singes Monkey Forest, Rocamadour

Our Experience of the Monkey Forest, France

As we wandered through the Monkey Forest, the path led us through varied landscapes where we could see the Barbary Macaques up close. We were particularly struck by the social nature of these primates.

Monkey Bonding

Observing the Barbary Macaques in their natural groups was fascinating. They are incredibly social, frequently engaging in grooming sessions that serve both as a hygiene measure and a critical part of their social bonding. Watching them interact in such familiar ways highlighted the depth of their social connections.

Not just limited to grooming, these macaques also exhibit strong family ties. Both parents are actively involved in the nurturing and protection of their young. This parental behaviour is quite touching and offers a great moment of connection for visitors, as it echoes familiar human behaviours.

mum-n-bub-on-back in the rocamadour monkey forest
A little hitch-hiker ©Lifejourney4two

These observations made our visit not just a chance to see monkeys in the wild but a profound insight into their complex social lives.

The monkeys’ interactions—from playfulness to parental care—were not only endearing but also educational, showcasing the intricate social structures that govern their communities.

Wandering through the Monkey Forest, a 1.3 km path invites you to closely observe and interact with over 150 free-roaming Barbary Macaques. This path winds through diverse terrains, offering unique encounters at every turn.

baby babary maquaque eating a nut in rocamadour monkey forest
Young Barbary ape at the Monkey Forest ©Lifejourney4two

Upon Entering the Monkey Forest

Upon entering the Forêt des Singes, each visitor receives a small amount of popcorn, which serves as a gentle means to interact with the monkeys.

It’s important to keep the treats in your hand rather than in your pockets, as this helps discourage the monkeys from searching for food.

monkey-in-autumn-tree at rocamadour monkey forest
Macaque at home in its forest sanctuary ©Lifejourney4two

The Social Structure of the Monkeys

The monkeys are organized into three distinct family groups, enhancing their social structure:

  • Entrance Group: One group settles near the entrance, greeting visitors. This initial interaction sets the tone for the engaging experience ahead.
  • Forest Group: Another group lives deeper within the lush, denser parts of the forest, where the environment is more secluded and natural.
  • Rocky Terrain Group: The third group can be found around the rocky terrains at the trail’s end, offering a glimpse into their adaptability to various habitats.
pretty scenery in the monkey forest
Scenic views within the Monkey Forest offer a tranquil backdrop to the lively monkey interactions.
©Lifejourney4two

Scenic views within the Monkey Forest provide a tranquil backdrop to the lively monkey interactions.

Knowledgeable guides stationed along the path are ready to answer questions, enriching the educational aspect of our visit.

For those familiar with our blog, it’s no secret that we cherish wildlife encounters. Being close to these fascinating primates in such a natural setting was truly a privilege.

macaque family time two adults and one baby in rocamadour monkey forest sat on grass with autumn leaves around
Macaque family bonding through grooming rituals ©Lifejourney4two

I spent a long time watching two young monkeys playfully chase each other and tumble in the grass. Eventually, their mum intervened, swiftly placing one on her lap to settle them down. The little monkey wriggled, trying to escape just like a toddler might, but Mum firmly kept it in place.

2-baby-monketys and-branchwith adult monkey in background at rocamadour monkey forest
Two baby Macaque play with a branch ©Lifejourney4two

A few monkeys positioned themselves along the path edges, eagerly awaiting their turn at the popcorn. Meanwhile, others sprawled comfortably in the middle of the path, undisturbed by the need for visitors to step around them.

Being so close to these primates truly deepened the intimacy of our visit.

monkey-on-path rat ocamadour monkey forest
Roadblock .. the type we like ©Lifejourney4two

Monkey Feeding

Structured feeding sessions every 45 minutes allowed us to observe the monkeys up close as they enjoyed fruits and seeds. During these sessions, guides shared insights into the Barbary Macaques’ lives, adding depth to our understanding.

Park guides ensured a safe distance was maintained between monkeys and visitors, although the monkeys often cheekily ignored this rule, gently reaching for popcorn from anyone passing by.

This visit was not just an opportunity to see monkeys but a chance to witness their charismatic personalities and complex social behaviours up close, making it a memorable and insightful experience.

monkey-grabbing-a-hand rocamadour monkey forest
A macaque reaches for some popcorn ©Lifejourney4two

Monkey Forest France: Research, Conservation and Tourism

While the Monkey Forest (Foret des Singes) draws many visitors, it also functions as a vital research centre.

Are you aware that Barbary Macaque monkeys are listed as an endangered species?

Foret des Singes is dedicated to education and conservation, raising awareness about the critical need to preserve primate habitats and cultivating respect for these extraordinary animals.

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Monkey business at the Monkey Forest France ©Lifejourney4two

By focusing on responsible tourism and conservation efforts like habitat restoration and research, Foret des Singes plays a crucial role in protecting Barbary macaque populations and providing visitors with a memorable wildlife encounter.

At Rocamadour Monkey Forest, ongoing studies of Barbary Macaques’ social behaviours are complemented by a successful breeding program.

This initiative has successfully reintroduced several groups of these monkeys into their native Atlas Mountains in North Africa.

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Macaque gaze ©Lifejourney4two

Several factors contribute to the declining populations of these monkeys:

  • Loss of natural habitat in the Atlas Mountains of both Morocco and Algeria
  • Diseases
  • Human-animal conflict, and
  • Illegal capture for the pet trade

Young monkeys are often captured to perform tricks or sold as pets. For more information, visit the Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation page on Facebook.

When we were in Marrakech, Morocco, we saw many tourists paying to have their photos taken with a monkey. The monkey had a lead and was chained around its neck.

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Monkey secured with a chain, Marrakech ©Lifejourney4two
Banner saying just say no to tourist photos with photo prop monkeys

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: they educate the public and spread awareness of the Barbary Macaque’s plight.

female-monkey sat on wall
Female adult macaque monkey ©Lifejourney4two

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 the 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.

baby-monkey-looking-at-camera at rocamadour monkey forest
Cuteness overload ©Lifejourney4two

Plan Your Visit to the Monkey Forest: Essential Visitor Information

Opening Hours:

  • Season: The Foret des Singes is open from the end of March to the beginning of November each year.
  • Variable Times: Hours vary by month. For current opening times, check the official website.

Parking Facilities:

  • Accessibility: Free parking is available at the Monkey Forest, accommodating a large number of visitors.

Admission Fees:

  • Adults: €11.00
  • Children (5-14 yrs): €7.00
  • Infants (under 5): Free
  • Concessions:
  • Adults: €9.50
  • Children (5-14 yrs): €6.00

Additional Information:

  • Accessibility: The park is fully accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs.
  • Amenities: Visitors can enjoy amenities, including a picnic area, snack bar, and a gift shop.
  • Pets: Pets are not allowed inside the park but are welcome in the designated picnic areas.
  • Summer Comfort: Water misters are installed along the path to help keep you cool on sunny days.
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Monkeys have very human characteristics ©Lifejourney4two

Discovering Monkeys in France: Beyond Rocamadour

While the Monkey Forest in Rocamadour is a highlight for many visitors, France offers other fascinating opportunities to see monkeys in natural and semi-natural settings.

So. if you are wondering if there are other monkeys in France, this is where you’ll find some:

Monkeys in Paris: Parc Zoologique

If you’re intrigued by monkeys in Paris, head to the Parc Zoologique. It’s the only place within the capital where you can see various primate species, including Guinea baboons, Bearded Sakis, and Woolly monkeys.

The zoo provides a controlled environment where you can learn about and observe these fascinating creatures, offering a perfect educational outing for families and wildlife enthusiasts.

Montagne des Singes – Monkey Mountain Sanctuary

About 8 hours’ drive northeast from the well-known Rocamadour Monkey Forest in the Alsace region is the Montagne des Singes. This sanctuary provides a very similar experience to that of Rocamadour, home to over 200 Barbary Macaques in a forest setting.

This makes a great stop if you are road-tripping through Alsace—and a delightful break from all the wine tasting. 🙂

Why Explore These Locations?

Visiting these locations supports conservation efforts and educational programs that help protect these charismatic animals. Whether you’re a resident or a traveller in France, these encounters offer a deeper appreciation for wildlife and the efforts to conserve their natural habitats.

family-of macaque together
A family of macaque ©Lifejourney4two

Things To Do In Rocamadour

Rocamadour, nestled in the scenic Dordogne region, offers more than just its famous Monkey Forest. This medieval town is perched on a cliff above the Alzou River, and is renowned for its historical churches and charming medieval architecture, which you can explore in more detail in our guide to the villages of the Dordogne.

Discover the Charm of Medieval France

Rocamadour is a testament to the enduring allure of French village life, with its winding streets lined with half-timbered houses and quaint boutiques. For a deeper dive into the lifestyle and beauty of French villages, don’t miss our insights on our insights on French village life.

Rocamadour village - houses on a steep mountain side
Rocamadour perched on the side of a mountain ©Lifejourney4two

Explore Local Attractions

Beyond the historical sites, Rocamadour serves as a gateway to numerous outdoor activities and cultural experiences. Consider a guided tour to explore the town, making your visit to Rocamadour a memorable part of your French adventure.

Guided Tours: Discover hidden gems with expert guides who can enhance your understanding of the area’s rich history and unique geology.

Monkey Forest in France … That’s a Wrap

Visiting Rocamadour’s Monkey Forest (Forêt des Singes) to witness the monkeys’ social interactions and playful behaviour up close is a fun and super-interesting adventure.

You’re not just in for a unique experience; you’re also contributing to crucial research and awareness efforts for Barbary Macaque conservation.

Have you been up close with monkeys before? These rascals are always doing something funny to make us smile. We’d love to hear about any of your funny moments in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like our other adventures with monkeys around the world:

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For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Shelley

Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

1 thought on “Marvellous Rocamadour Monkey Forest in France (inc. video)”

  1. “But that special moment is even more precious when the eyes that look back, are so like your own that you feel a connection. ” I really love these words. I remembered our visit to the Congo Gorilla Forest. I was so fascinated with the adorable monkeys and gorillas.

    These Barbary Macaque monkeys are super cute! I love the photos. Thanks for writing this post and helping raise awareness about these endangered species.

    Reply

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