Just above the lovely medieval town of Rocamadour is the Foret des Singes – Monkey Forest – and it’s a treat for the whole family.
The 20 hectare park is home to 150 free roaming Barbary Macaques. This is an endangered species and the park is part of an important conservation project that aims to educate the public and increase the wild population by releasing groups into their natural environments.
The Macaques are free to roam throughout the 20 hectares of woodland and there are no cages. They live as natural a life as possible while protected from predators. A well marked path leads you through the forest and there are several feeding areas where the apes gather to “people-watch” and ask for the pop-corn you are supplied with on entry. At the entrance you are also given clear instructions on how to feed and interact with the Macaques. Over several visits I have found the Macaques to be very “polite” – no snatching or grabbing and very child-friendly.
The park is well staffed with knowledgeable guides who are happy to answer questions and give an enjoyable presentation in french and English. They explain the habits of the apes, the importance of their conservation and the part the park plays in a wider European project to increase the population in the monkey’s native North Africa.
The setting is very peaceful and the forest is well-established and overlooks a lovely landscape. The monkeys are free to approach, or not, and don’t appear at all stressed by their audience. The footpath is well marked and you are asked to stay on it and not approach the animals. If you are lucky enough you might see some of the babies – adorable but carefully supervised by their families and the attentive staff.
There is a picnic area separate from the monkey enclosure, a small shop selling souvenirs, drinks and ice creams, and toilets – no frills but clean and functional. The large car park has some shaded areas and the path is wide and generally flat and shouldn’t prove a problem for small children or the elderly. The walk is an easy stroll that would take about an hour and a half allowing for pauses to feed the residents. If you are a particular fan you could spend longer – there is no time limit as long as you are out of there by closing.
Who is this attraction suitable for?
Short answer – everyone. What’s not to enjoy about a pleasant stroll through a lovely environment looking at cute animals. Children in particular love it but it’s also a favourite with adult visitors. My only words of caution would be that it’s a popular attraction and can get quite busy in the summer months – beat the rush, go early in the day before the heat builds up and the monkeys retire for a siesta.
Make a day of it:
Depending on the time of year and the ages of your party I would allow two hours to enjoy your visit.
The Park is just above Rocamadour so it would be obvious to team it up with a visit the town which itself is a “must-see”. If you feel like making a day of animal attractions the Birds of Prey Park – Rocher des Aigles is just down the road and is also well-worth a visit. A very different experience but another winner with the whole family and the free flight displays above the Valley are stunning.