©Pascal Beltrami

Immersion on a farm

“Let’s get our boots on”. These few insignificant words will sound like a magic formula. Whether you’re a city boy or a country girl, the farm is a joyous place to explore.

Bury your hand in the fluffy fur of a lamb, feed the pigs, find out how cows and donkeys are milked, pick a few raspberries, have a good time in the straw, spot a tractor or dip your fingers in jam: these are all little pleasures that will leave their mark on their relationship with nature.

Published on 19 June 2023

Bubbles of sweetness

At Asinerie du Bois Gamats, Laval

Just a stone’s throw from Laval, the Asinerie du Bois Gamats looks like a little paradise. This small-scale farm produces donkey milk cosmetics and mohair wool from Angora goats. But that’s not all, Agnès and Amandine have combined their farming activities with educational activities. Workshops for young carers to find out about their daily lives, donkey rides, milking the donkeys, soap-making and mohair wool creations: everything is designed to encourage positive interaction between children and animals.

Agnès and Amandine are Slowlydays supporters – find out more about them.

Practical information: Individual visits and workshops during zone B holidays, groups welcome all year round. The workshops are open to children aged 3 and over. Approved by Accueil Paysan.



At the heart of a flock of lambs

At la ferme de la Villette, Gennes-Longuefuye

We dare you not to be moved by the lambs at La Villette farm, reared by Charlène and Julien. These two passionate breeders will be opening the doors of their sheepfold to you for an educational visit. A walk through the fields will give you an insight into all aspects of sheep life, as well as the fauna and flora of the meadows. Back at the farm, activities in the sheepfold will give little shepherds the chance to touch, handle, observe, participate and share. Reading in the countryside, sensory workshops and free play will also punctuate the visit. All the activities are adapted to the age of the children and change with the seasons.

Practical information: Open on the 1st Wednesday and Saturday of every month and during school holidays. Activities are suitable for children aged 3 to 12. Allow 2? hours for the visit. By reservation only. Accessible for people with reduced mobility. Farmhouse label.

Meeting the animals

of L’Arche Desnoé à Saint Berthevin

Just outside Laval, Simon Desnoé’s family farm has become a wildlife park. Whether it was a sign of destiny or a happy coincidence, the park’s name was quite natural: l’Arche Desnoé (sounds like Noah’s Ark in french). Goats, sheep, donkeys, ponies, yaks, alpacas, camels, rabbits, ferrets, chickens: more than 500 domestic animals live there peacefully. But the real star here is Bouba, the camel. Along the way, educational panels will help you get to know the thirty or so species present.

The little extra: children are given a bucket of corn silage on arrival. They can then feed the animals throughout the visit. A guaranteed hit.

Practical info: Open every day from April to November. Admission: €6.50. Free for children under 3.

A haven of peace in the heart of the bocage

at la ferme de la Papinière, La Chapelle-au-grain

Make your own leather key ring, and proudly proclaim “I made it”. Making jam with fruit from the garden, and dipping your fingers in it. Making a delicious goat’s milk cheese. These are just some of the magical experiences you can have at La Papinière. This small educational farm in the heart of the Mayenne bocage has more than one trick up its sleeve. For a 2-hour workshop or a whole day, Elisabeth and her team will share with you the activities that punctuate their days. Dairy goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, pigs and farmyard animals live side by side.

Practical information: Guided tour: 1h30, individuals and groups. Booking essential.

Understanding everything about a dairy farm

at la ferme du Coudray, Saint-Germain-de-Coulamer

A former school teacher, Anne-Marie is bursting with ideas for passing on her passion for animals and the world of farming. Alongside her work as a farmer, she happily welcomes curious youngsters to her family’s dairy cow farm. Here, you can bottle-feed the calves, jump in the straw, collect eggs, see how a milking robot works and discover the different types of crops. The multi-sensory activities on offer are suitable for children aged 6 and over. The icing on the cake is a farm snack to tempt even the fussiest of eaters.

Practical information: Activities during the school holidays for children aged 6 and over. Guided tour open to all, duration: 2 hours. By reservation only. “Accueil Fermier” label.

A second life for the residents

at la ferme pédagogique Pat’à foin, Champéon

Nestling in the hills of Champéon, Pat’à foin is not your average educational farm. Here, sheep, pigs, horses, cows and even wild boar and wolfhounds all have their own unique stories. They have all been taken in, abandoned, rescued, retired or injured. It’s a veritable cocoon for these 150 residents, whose lives have been full of ups and downs.

Guided tours are available all year round, giving you the chance to meet these little protégés. Themed activities are also on offer during the school holidays. Children in particular will be delighted by the “groomer for a day” workshop.

Practical information: Guided tour: 1h30, individuals and groups. No booking required.

Making butter

at la ferme pédagogique du Pot au Lait, à Villaines-la-Juhel

Raw happiness in the heart of a small farm where you can meet draught horses, goats, sheep, pigs, alpacas, peacocks, guinea pigs, chickens and pigeons. Donkey rides, at the animal’s pace, are also available. During the ride, a close bond is forged between the child and the animal. You can also learn how to make butter, or discover the life of our ancestors in the museum, which traces the history of farm life through a collection of objects dating from 1750 to 1950. It’s a fantastic insight into the history of our countryside.

Practical information: Group and individual visits by prior arrangement only. Butter-making workshop on request.



A few suggestions for farm activities

Take the time to meet the farm animals, pick seasonal fruit and vegetables from a local producer, go behind the scenes of milk production and spend the night at the heart of a farm: a whole programme for an immersive stay in the countryside, in complete peace and quiet.

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