Aquarium La Rochelle 2

Aquarium of La Rochelle, a life-size exploration of the world's oceans

That afternoon was a very hot one for a family visit to La Rochelle, so when we passed in front of the Aquarium on our way into the picturesque harbour town, we immediately decided it was the right moment to visit and set off all 4 of us to dive into the heart of the oceans!

You're plunged into the atmosphere from the get-go: the lift that takes us to the start of the visit looks like a submarine. The kids are over the moon. And when we come to the first exhibition room, dedicated to the Atlantic, we're simply amazed as we start to take it all in. In a nutshell, we were about to spend 3 hours there because on top of looking at all the different water basins we kept stopping to connect with the interactive terminals that give loads of interesting information on the occupants and their way of life. We learnt some really funny and surprising stuff about the 1200 sea creatures that live here.

Morning tickets at reduced rates, evening tickets to discover the site at night, treasure-hunt tickets for the kids

Scientists from Plymouth have shown the positive influence of aquariums on our health: just 10 minutes looking at fish are enough to significantly reduce blood pressure and heart beat and seeing big numbers swim together cheers us up. We also felt the benefits as we contemplated the marine flora and fauna swaying beneath the waves, floating silently and calmly back and forth. A great way to unwind.

Where to start with all these incredible creatures? The Clown and Surgeon Fish from the Disney cartoons, the delicate seahorses with their tiny wings, the huge and scary-looking Sword Fish in the Shark pool, or the dance of the Jelly Fish, so moving it nearly made us find them cute.

Which were our favourite rooms? The really impressive Shark Pool, the tropical greenhouse where we finally got to see what the famous piranha looked like, the light gallery and the extraordinary bio-luminescence phenomena and underwater glass walkways where we felt like fish in water!

From the glittering Cod to the Turbot hiding in the sandy bottoms, from the Turtle who appeared to be flying under water to the baby garden Eels so funny to look at, we loved every minute and had a really fantastic afternoon.

I seem to remember something about 3 million litres of sea water (it's one of the biggest private aquariums in Europe). At all rates, it's an absolutely spectacular life-size journey through the seas and oceans of our blue planet.

Make the experience last longer, or get it off to a good start by checking out photos of the 600 species that live there on the Aquarium of La Rochelle website.

Aquarium de LA Rochelle 

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