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Refuge de l’Arche

A real-life Noah’s Ark in Château-Gontier!

Over more than 45 years, the Refuge, founded by the passionate Christian Huchedé, has been able to transform its animal charity into the No 1 tourist site in the department of Mayenne. An advocate for animal rights since his teenage years, Huchedé was able to rally around other big hearts such as celebrity French couple Michel Drucker and Dany Saval, and actors Pierre Richard and Mylène Demongeot (godparents, for example, to a brown bear). He has surely inspired a number of vocations among visitors of all ages, and it’s not hard to see why. All you need to do is to enter the gates to the 25 hectare site on Rue Félix Marchand to be bowled over.

The site is home to 450 mammals, 760 birds and 40 reptiles. The exact numbers of inhabitants fluctuate depending on different events, including seizures by customs authorities or the police, closures of zoos and menageries, and bankruptcies of circuses. The Refuge has become a benchmark in the area of animal rescue in such situations and has been developed to provide the best quality of life to these survivors, and the best quality visits for people. A visit may take from 2 hours 30 minutes to a whole day. Everything is there to satisfy your curiosity, your passion for all types of animal, whether they are wild or domestic, exotic or native. Goats, raccoons, reptiles, big cats, bears, wolves, llamas, pigs, parrots, birds of prey and fennec foxes – all these live side by side between the picnic areas, the playground and the boutique. It’s just like the original ark from long ago. Have a great visit!