What to do on a rainy day when visiting the Côte D’Opale? Go and take shelter in a bar or restaurant? Naah! I found a better alternative when we were visiting the region: spend a day in Nausicaa, the best aquarium in the whole of France! It is Northern France’s most popular cultural attraction and one of the top tourist sites in the country – and the best part: it’s only a two hour drive away from Bruges!
Named after the heroine who cared for the shipwrecked Ulysses, in Homer’s Odyssey, Nausicaa is an educational & research facility and also a rescue hospital for sick and injured animals. It houses almost 35,000 animals from 1,000 different species. It doesn’t look very appealing when you drive up the parking lot, but looks can be deceiving you know ..
The most part of Nausicaa is hidden underneath the pavement. You go down a large escalator, which takes you deep inside the complex. The grand Jellyfish tank – which goes from top of the complex to the bottom – in the middle being the centerpiece. From there on, you can go and explore the aquarium from above and below!
We saw some giant tortoises, walked through mangroves filled with reptiles and spotted some bright colored fish swim by!
One of the highlights in NAUSICAA is the level of interactivity. The best example of this is at this large touch tank, filled with gentle rays. One ray in the tank really seemed to enjoy having his ‘wings’ rubbed by visitors and kept swimming by for more. Attention-whore (pardon my French).
Another cool interactive-spot is the dome underneath the Coral Lagoon, where you get the feeling of being inside the tank. Some fish even came and say hi!
Another great attraction, are the Sea Lions. Nausicaa’s sea lions don’t perform tricks. Their training is done for health reasons like to have their teeth brushed, be x-rayed, have various parts of their body examined, .. No playing with plastic balls over here!
We had a wonderfull time in Nausicaa, and are definitely going back when we’re in the region. I’d like to test my Nikon on all those colorful fish, and take some new – more breathtaking – pictures!
More about Nausicaa and how to get there:
- Adress: Boulevard Sainte-Beuve, 62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer
- Price: Full rate over 12 years old is €19. Reductions available. Buy online!
- Opening hours: Nausicaa is open every day, all year round. From 9:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. (to 7:30 P.M. in July and August)
- Time Table of all Activities: click here for more info