The Charente-Maritime is a popular holiday destinations for families so it's not surprising that as well as the many beautiful beaches, there are plenty of family-friendly tourist attractions for you and your young ones. From animal centric attractions such as La Rochelle Aquarium and La Palmyre Zoo to the fabulous frigate Hermione, there is something to keep all children amused for hours...
» Zoo de La Palmyre
17570 Les Mathes
One of the best zoos in Europe, it’s set in 14 hectares amongst the pines of the Forêt de la Courbe. See more than 1,600 animals from all five continents including polar bears and snow leopards plus Siberian tigers, elephants, monkeys and apes. Open 9am–7pm 1st April to 30th September, 9am–6pm rest of year. Sea lion and parrot shows: from April to end of October. Cost: adults 15€, children 3-12 11€
+33 (0)5 46 22 46 06; www.zoo-palmyre.com
In 1997, work began on building a replica of the frigate that General Lafayette sailed to America. Visit this amazing project as it nears completion. Open daily 9am-7pm over summer. Entry is 9€ or 15€ with the guided tour (recommended, reservation required).
+33 (0)5 46 82 07 07; www.hermione.com
17000 La Rochelle
From the moment you enter through a lift that simulates a ride deep into the sea, the museum will have you hooked. One of Europe’s best aquariums, it has more than 10,000 sea creatures on display from brightly coloured fish to a 20m deep shark tank that can been seen from three levels. Open every day from 9am-8pm. Adult Entry 15€.
+33 (0)5 46 34 00 00; www.aquarium-larochelle.com
» Les Antilles de Jonzac
In this intriguingly shaped building you'll find beaches, outdoor and indoor pools and a series of saunas, hammams and jacuzzis. Open every day all year round.
+33 (0)5 46 86 48 00; www.lesantillesdejonzac.com
» Château des Enigmes
The Château d'Usson is the location for this fun 3-hour circuit of riddles to solve based on the theme of the Knights of the Templar. Entry 13€.
+33 (0)5 46 91 09 19; www.chateau-enigmes.com
An interactive centre that is themed on prehistoric times and is great for children who can invade a camp of prehistoric hunters. Open every day during school holidays, from 10.30am-8pm. Entry 10€.
+33 (0)5 46 97 90 90; www.paleosite.fr
» Cabane de Moins
17870 Breuil Magné
A freshwater nature reserve where rare birds nest. Open from 2pm-7pm every day except Wednesday. Entry is free.
+33 (0)5 46 84 48 60; http://cabane-de-moins.over-blog.com
» Asinerie du Baudet du Poitou (donkey farm)
17470 Dampierre sur Boutonne
The Poitou mule is bred on this farm, where you can also see heavy horses and visit exhibitions. Open from 10am-12pm and 2pm-6pm every day. Entry 3€.
+33 (0)5 46 24 68 94; www.poles-nature.fr
» La Pierre de Crazannes
Guided visits to the stone quarry that supplied stone to build Fort Boyard and Cologne Cathedral. Workshops in stone carving available.
Open daily 10am-noon and 2pm-7pm in summer. Visit 5€.
+33 (0)5 46 91 48 92; www.poles-nature.fr
» Le Cep Enchanté
An educational circuit takes you through the vineyards to discover all about grapes. Pitch and putt also on site. Open from 10.30am-7pm Tuesday to Sunday, 2pm-7pm Monday. Entry 5€, golf extra.
+33 (0)5 46 26 67 76; www.lecepenchante.com
» Antioche Kayak
Based to the south of the Fouras peninsula, this sea-kayak centre can provide guides to accompany you on trips around the islands and in the Charente estuary. 2 and 4 place canoes are available. Prices vary according to the option chosen.
+33 (0)6 63 20 51 44; www.antioche-kayak.com
» Les grottes de Régulus
In the cliffs of the Gironde estuary a series of surprising troglodyte caves are hidden. Visits are all guided, in French, but a document in English is available. Open every day. Entry 5€.
+33 (0)5 46 02 55 36; www.meschers.com