Many of Normandy's classic attractions, such as the gripping site of Joan of Arc's execution, and the fairytale view of Mont St Michel, will also capture the attention of kids if presented with an interesting narrative.  Nevertheless, Normandy has plenty of classic kid's side-adventures to balance out museum visits.


Reptilarium  (62 route du Mont Saint Michel - 50170 Beauvoir, +33 2 33 68 11 18
Web : www.le-reptilarium.com, infants to 3 years free, children €7, adults €11)  Perhaps this zoo is something you would more expect in Australia, this reptilarium has a collection of friendly tortoises (apparently expecting you to pat them), crocs, alligators, snakes and lizards.  Steve Irwin eat your heart out!

Champrepus Zoo  (50800 Villedieu les Poëles in the direction of Granville, +33 2 33 61 30 74, www.zoo-champrepus.com, children over 3 years €7.50, adults €11.20)  The zoo has over 50 species in their natural environment, including endangered species and it has an accompanying educational programme.

Zoo de Jurques (20 min from Caen, 14260 Jurques,  +33 2 31 77 94 12, www.zoodejurques.fr/, Children below 3 years free, children €8, adults €13.30 )    The zoo boasts owning 3 of the only 32 white lions worldwide.  Animal contact shows are organised throughout the day, and their special is the ‘raptor show’.  Be careful!

Beach boardwalk at Deauville.  The boardwalk of this lively town is great for a family stroll and watching the beach activities.  You can hire water equipment such as catarmarans and kayaks from the Watersports Centre.

Le Nautile: L'espace famille (Rue Joseph Guillonneau,  14100 Lisieux, +33 2 31 48 66 67, Scaled prices from infants free to adults €5.5)   This a huge indoor aquatics centre and houses a swimming pool, and a 54 m water slide.  It programmes cater for ages, from infants to the aged. You might consider this option ion rainy days.

Canoeing on the Risle and the Eure.  You'll find numerous operators who offer great facilities for families. Hire a canoe or kayak for a lazy descent of the lovely River Risle.  Some operators include: Les Castors Rislois, Pont-Audemer: +33 2 32 56 04 15 ???   Base de Loisirs: 6 ave de la République, Brionne +33 2 32 43 66 11 ???

Eur’ Aurtruche, Beaumesnil. (www.eurautruche.com, Route du chateau d’eau - La Blinière - 27410 Beaumesnil, +33 02 32 29 71 65)   Described as Normandy’s biggest Ostrich farm, this unusual venue can literally give you a taste of Ostrich (meat).  You can also come away with ostrich eggs, feathers and emu oil.  

La Cite de la Mer, Cherbourg.  (www.citedelamer.com, Gare Maritime Transatlantique, 50100 Cherbourg,  +33 2 33 20 26 26,  Children to 4 years free, children to 17 years €13, adults €18.  These are high season prices with low season slightly cheaper. You can buy tickets online and the website gives detailed instructions on how to get there by various modes of transport.)   Explore inside the retired French nuclear missile-launching submarine, La Redoutable, which is currently the largest publicly accessible submarine in the world.  The huge 11 m deep aquarium has multiple themed tanks and, although perhaps not a must-see in its own right, is a good combination with the submarine visit.

L’Attelage des Grandes Marees, Gouville-Sur-Mer
.  (www.mace-ostreiculteur.com,  Attelage-des-Grandes-Marees.aspx,  45, Rue de la Mielle -  50560 Gouville Sur Mer: +33 2.33.47.86.13, Children €11.50  Adults €15.50)     The beaches here have the largest tides in Europe making a horse and carriage ride over this seascape a memorable experience.

Manoir de Dur-Ecu.  (www.durecu.com)  English maze maker, Adrian Fisher, created this maze, out of maize.  Each year he plants a layout on a different theme and it makes for a great energy-burner for the kids.  The Manoir de Dur EcuBuilt in the sixteenth century, is located at exit Urville-Nacqueville, 12 kilometers from Cherbourg.

Mini-trains.  The two main mini-trains of the region are along the coast from Carteret to Portbail and through marshland from St-Lo to Periers.  (Train du Cotentin +33 2 33 04 70 08, Mini-train des Marais. +33 2 33 05 15 54)

Veloroutes in Manche. Rent bikes for the day and follow the network of circular cycle paths (veloroutes). Each is around 20 kilometres long and there are plenty of places to picnic along the way.  The rest of Normandy also has a rich array of veloroutes to choose from.