Amazing Activities with Animals in France

Outdoor activities are always better when there are animals involved! If you want more animal love in your life or are simply looking to try something new, there are so many activities out there that will bring you closer to nature and the animals we know and love! Whether you are looking for something to do in winter, summer, on land or in the water, this article has you covered with all the best activities with animals in France!

If you love animals, there is no better joy than spending time with them outdoors! Whether it involves a spring afternoon horse riding in the countryside, a winter morning learning how to dogsled, or a summer day out at sea watching dolphins, activities are just better when there are animals involved! From sea to snow, there are many different activities you can delight in to not only get your animal fix, but to discover a new sport or location while you are at it. Here is our list of amazing activities with animals in France!

1. Horse Riding

Horse riding; horseback riding
Centre Equestre de Val Marie

Horse Riding is an obvious starting point for animal lovers looking for something fun to do! No matter your level of experience or comfort with horses, horse riding ranches often have activities suited for different levels and ages! Even just going to a horse ranch to spend time with such beautiful animals and learn more about how they are taken care of is a treat. At the Pegasus Harmony ranch in Landes, they offer a bespoke horseback riding experience that will bring you even closer to the horses. You will be paired with a horse based on your previous experiences as well as your personality type! This is the perfect activity for both beginners and more experienced riders, as every detail will be completely tailored to you!

For those who are certified horse lovers and also have their Galop certification, try horseback riding near Saint Cyprien! Here, you will be able to choose your adventure, ride across diverse terrain, and bring some variety to your beachside vacation!

There is no better feeling than the wind rushing past you as you move in sync with your horse! Whether you are itching to get back in the saddle or aim to one day experience this incredible sensation, book a horse riding excursion and fall in love with the sport and its amazing animals!

2. Skijoring

Skijoring; ski joering
Avoriaz Ski Joering

Skijoring is also for the horse lovers out there, but instead of being on top of the horse, you will be pulled behind it on skis! Skijoring is a sport you might have never heard of before, but it has a long history and it can refer to being towed across the snow by any matter of animal or motorised vehicle (even planes)! While the term ‘skijoring’ derives from the Norwegian ‘snorekjoring’ meaning ski driving, records of such activity date back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) in China as well as early Scandinavian rock art!

Depending on your comfort level, being towed on skis by horse can be an exhilarating sensation or a relaxing one that lets you experience snow-covered forest trails from a new perspective! Try ski joering in Avorias, Portes du Soleil in the french Alps and combine your love for snow, skiing, and horses in one activity!

The best part is that you don’t need to have previous experience with horses or skiing (although it is a plus) to try your hand at skijoring!

3. Dog sledding

Dogsledding; Mushing
Alaskan Forever

Stemming from similar origins as skijoring, the need to traverse long stretches of snow and ice quickly, is dog sledding! Dog sledding has been instrumental to the way of life of indigenous people in the Arctic by allowing heavy loads to be transported great distances easily, making seasonal migration, trade, and even discovery of unknown areas possible.

Of course, the stars of the show are the sled dogs themselves who have become known throughout history and pop culture to be brave, loyal, and incredibly hard working, and whose noble nature has been memorialised by popular books such as ‘The Call of the Wild’. Sled dogs are bred specifically for sledding and popular breeds include the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Alaskan Husky.

If you love dogs and want to experience an activity that is both historically and culturally emblematic of the Arctic without going all the way to the North Pole, try dog sledding in Matemale near Mes Angles, Pyrenees. You will be able to sit back and enjoy being pulled by a team of adorable sled dogs while a professional Musher drives the sled for you. For a more hands on approach, you can also try a self-drive dog sledding initiation in Avoriaz, Portes du Soleil in the French Alps, where you will meet your sled dogs, get to know them, and then learn how to drive the sled through a winter wonderland!

Check out this article on where to go dog sledding in France for further inspiration!

4. Cani-karting/dryland mushing

Cani-karting; drlyand mushing
Alaskan Forever

If you just can’t wait for winter to go dog sledding, or simply aren’t one for cold weather, fret not, because you can always go cani-karting! Cani-kart, otherwise known as dry land mushing, is the no snow version of dog sledding that keeps sled dogs fit throughout the year. Dry land mushing has evolved into a sport in its own right and it can offer an even more thrilling ride than dog sledding across snow due to its ability to cross bumpy and varied terrain!

Try cani-karting at the Col des Palomières near La Mongie, Pyrenees or perhaps a cani-karting discovery in Matemale near Les Angles, Pyrenees for an exciting new way to enjoy the mountainous region and then cuddle with the doggies afterwards!

5. Hiking with Dogs

Hiking with huskies
Le Repaire des Huskies

If it is just the quality time spent with dogs that you are after, try hiking with sled dogs in Arreau, near Saint-Lary-Soulan! Hiking with dogs is a joyous pastime for many dog owners, but for those dog lovers who do not have their own four legged friends to accompany them, this is a great option to get that experience or to simply enjoy the company of sled dogs in a different manner!

Your chosen doggy hiking partner will be attached to you with a shock-absorbing lanyard for a safe, fun, and hands free way to hike. Being that these are sled dogs, you will definitely be kept on your toes by such energetic creatures – this hike is sure to be a real adventure!

You can even visit the kennel afterwards for extra cuddles with the dogs!

6. Nature touring

Nature Touring; bird watching; Le Camargue
Les amis des marais du vigueirat

Visiting natural reserves known for their abundance of animal life is also a great way to immerse yourself into nature and get a closer look at animals in the wild. One such place is the Vigueirat marshlands in the Camargue, near Arles in the south of France. This beautiful area between land and sea is home to hundreds of bird species (including pink flamingos!), as well as Camargue bulls, and shining white Camargue horses!

During this nature tour of the Vigueirat marshlands in Camargue, you will be able to see the huge variety of wildlife up close using long-range telescopes in the reserve’s observatories. This activity might not be as adrenaline pumping as the previous sports mentioned, but the thrill is all in the moment of spotting the silvery white flank of a wild horse among the reeds or catching a rare bird taking flight.

This activity is perfect for animal lovers who want some serenity whilst also viewing animals out in their natural habitat, the wild!

7. Whale watching and snorkelling

Dolphin watching

Another natural habitat in which to observe animals is, of course, the ocean!

For a day out on the water without getting wet, try dolphin and whale watching in the Mediterranean Sea from Bandol on the Côte d’Azur! This is a wonderful way to observe some of the most beautiful creatures of the sea during a relaxing boat ride.

For a more up close experience, you can jump right into the water and explore the sea life around you by snorkel or scuba! You might not get to see any whales up close during your guided snorkelling and sailing excursion from Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near Nice, but you will get to see a diversity of brightly coloured and curious sea creatures! This snorkelling trip will take you right into the Pélagos sanctuary, an area of the Mediterranean that is known for its abundant array of marine life!

Sea creatures are some of the most wonderful and intelligent animals out there, and it is always an amazing feeling to get close to them, whether from a boat or in the water!

One of the best parts of being out in nature and trying a new activity is the potential to be in contact with animals. It is such a privilege to be able to meet animals in the wild as well as those whom we have domesticated and trained. With the different perspective that animals can give us, the activities we do with animals involved are oftentimes even more memorable than the others! Book an activity that brings you closer to animals of any kind for an experience you will never forget!