Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dinosaurs at 'Parc de Préhistoire de Bretagne'

One of the places I took the kids to when we holidayed in Brittany last year was the "Parc de Préhistoire de Bretagne" which is just outside the medieval village of Rochefort-en-Terre, about 45 minutes drive from our holiday Gite.

Rochefort-en-Terre itself is a lovely picturesque Brittany town that's been recognised as a Petite Cité de Caractère (literally 'little city of character') and from the brief look we made looks to be well worth a visit in its own right, so will be somewhere we plan to return to for a proper 'look' on a future visit.

There are about a dozen of the Petite Cités de Caractère across Brittany, several of which are close to our holiday home including Josselin (with its chateau, cobbled streets and medieval buildings), Lizio (full of granite stone buildings and with an Insectarium and museum of 'fantastic machines') and Moncontour (where they hold a Medieval street festival every two years).

The Parc de Préhistoire literally means "Park of the Pre-History of Brittany" and it tells the story of the history of the inhabitants of ancient Brittany from dinosaurs 500,000 years ago up to almost modern day man at 2,000 years BC.

The 25 hectare park is located in a disused set of wooded quarries and as you walk through the forests the journey starts with full-size dinosaur models then progresses through a series of tableau's of how mankind has evolved including Homo-Erectus the first Brittany inhabitants, Neanderthal man, Cro-Magnon man and then the Breton's that built the stone menhirs and megaliths. There are a number of scenes including hunting, fishing, life in the primitive villages, early day music and how the burial mounds were constructed.

As a family we had a great time exploring the park, looking at the models, trying to count the number of dinosaurs and reading the information boards set beside each little tableau. Each information board is helpfully presented in French, English and German so the kids didn't have to suffer my dodgy French translations!

At the end of the tour there is of course the obligatory gift shop which did have some quite nice stone crystals which the boys liked, and of course there's the snack bar which I enjoyed much more!

The Parc de PreHistoire website is unfortunately a bit disappointing and doesn't really give all that much details or photos about the park, and the map of the park doesn't really give you a feel of the scale of the place - it probably takes a comfortable 2 hours to walk around although you could easily spend more time if you wanted to.

Anyway, we enjoyed our visit there and I hope that this brief review and my photos wet your appetite to go as well if you're visiting that part of central Brittany.

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