On safari with the family

Sebastien saw his first giraffe!

Photo May 19, 4 24 01 PM

My son Sebastien in now 8 months old. He has one tiny tooth barely poking through his gums and his favorite toy is Sophie the Giraffe. If you have a small child then you know what a Sophie the giraffe is and if not, it’s a 10 inch tall rubber painted giraffe with the perfect consistency for a baby to gnaw on with his first little tooth.

When my wife and I heard that we had been offered the chance to go on safari at Planete Sauvage in Nantes, the first thing we both thought was “Sebastien is going to get to see a giant Sophie!”

I had never been to Nantes and never been to a safari park in France. But I grew up near San Diego in Southern California where the world famous Wild Animal Park is, so the bar was set pretty high for me.


When we arrived at Planete Sauvage I immediately felt the sensation that I was entering into Jurassic Park. It had the feel of a wild place that had been slightly tamed. The giant 4×4’s that we road in were no joke. I felt very safe and we were high enough to get a great view of the landscape.


We first saw rhinos and ostriches. The habitat was made to look like an African watering hole and the animals were all in the same enclosure together which made it more realistic. I got to see some American Buffalo, it was fun seeing the American enclosure with an homage to Yosemite Park, it brought back fond memories and a longing to be back home. There were lots of great moments on the safari. The cheetah walked right under the 4×4 so we got a great close up view. The lionesses got in a bit of a fight over some toy, that was exciting to watch.


The paramount was seeing the giraffes with their babies. I have always loved giraffes, and it was fun to take a picture of Sebastien with his toy and the real giants even though I am not sure Sebastien even saw the giraffes. He is 8 months old after all and doesn’t understand what a finger point is yet.


After the safari we went to our yurt where we were sleeping for the night. Our yurt was designed with authentic Mongolian style and we slept right next to a watering hole populated with yaks and lots of frogs. It was incredible to sleep “in the wild”. We could hear the wolves hole in the distance and a gentle rain on the yurt made it magical.


The next day was Sebastien’s favorite because we got to be up close with a bunch of dolphins. These dolphins were super smart and performed all kinds of flips and talked and danced it was so fun.


The special thing to me about this park is how close I was to the animals. I could pet the monkeys as I walked along an Incan rope bridge and I had to shuffle past a territorial turkey who gobbled at me furiously and fanned his feathers at me. While the wild animal park in San Diego is vast and incredible, it never let me get up close like I could at this park.


It was a great experience and the animals are really well taken care of. Some of them have been rescued from really horrible situations and I felt like the people in charge really cared for them and were conscientious animal lovers living their dream.

I heard after I got home that other jeeps were allowed to feed the giraffes popcorn. Not sure why I didn’t get to but I might have to go back just for that. I didn’t even know giraffes like popcorn.

To read my wife’s article about Planete Sauvage in French click here – juliachou.fr


  1. Kris Goodfellow

    Thanks for your article..This looks fantastic…. Am looking at the website now since it’s right on our doorstep! Hoping to go this weekend….kids need some fun in the outdoors to celebrate the end of the school year. Will let you know what we thought!

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