The perfect weekend getaway in France to the Nausicaá aquarium and Evancy hotel
Just across the border in Boulogne-sur-Mer you will find the largest aquarium in Europe, Nausicaá. But instead of making it a day trip, why not have a wonderful weekend away?
Boulogne-sur-Mer is easily accessible. It is also a nice city with, among other things, a beautiful cathedral, a castle with ramparts that you can still fully walk on, and surprisingly nice murals.
In the old city center, you will find a lot of cozy terraces with some nice cafes. Do you still feel like hanging out on the beach of Boulogne-sur-Mer? No problem because it is just next to Nausicaá.
Read more: Things to do in Boulogne-Sur-Mer
The perfect ingredients for a fun weekend out with the kids. We will stay in an apartment in the nice Evancy hotel, located at the marina and within walking distance of both Nausicaaá and the old city center.
Nausicaá: the largest aquarium in Europe
The modern building of Nausicaá has been there since 1991 and houses more than 50 aquariums, two large exhibitions, and some temporary exhibitions. In case you’re wondering what that strange shape of the building is, it’s that of a ray.
In Nausicaá you will find no less than 58,000 animals including sharks, rays, angelfish, and the star of the large basin (also the largest aquarium in Europe), a manta ray.
Thanks to the many signs you can follow the suggested direction and you will not miss a single piece. There are three major pieces, each of which we discuss separately here.
Mankind and shores (Des rivales et des hommes)
First, you walk through the Mediterranean Sea, which is one of the richest seas in the world and you will notice that. Beautifully colored fish and plants, seahorses, etc…
Then it is the turn of the North Sea and the tropical lagoon. In the tropical lagoon, you will encounter the first sharks in the shark aquarium.
These look impressive but we need not fear them. In the aquarium, there are sand tiger sharks (the oldest inhabitants of the aquarium) and nurse sharks.
But there will be someone else with the most attention, namely the beautiful hawksbill turtle that gracefully swims past the window.
After the impressive sharks, it is the turn of the ubiquitous sea lions. They just come to greet you in the basin.
If you also want to pet a fish, you can do so in the petting basin. Great fun for the little ones!
In the eye of the climate (Dans l’oeil du climat)
This is Nausicaá’s newest exhibition. This one is about climate change. What we can do about it ourselves and what the consequences are of climate change?
These are just some of the many questions they try to answer here. Everything is explained very clearly and often interactively. Ideal for making children aware of the current problems surrounding the climate and its impact on the oceans.
Here you will also find the cute black-footed penguins from South Africa, who are increasingly having to adapt their living patterns due to climate change.
In the end, there is also a 360-degree spectacle. A very nice but also confrontational way to explain everything. The kids were impressed.
It makes you think, so be sure to read the many tips on how we can change our consumption behavior. Because that’s where it all starts.
Journey on the High Seas (Voyage en Haute Mer)
We saved this exhibit for last because in our opinion it is also the most impressive of the Nausicaá aquarium. At least as far as the animals are concerned.
In this exhibition, we sail out into the great ocean. We get acquainted with the underwater life to the deepest of the sea.
The highlight of this part is the large aquarium with an amazing view of the great inhabitants of the oceans and the thousands of fish that are in the aquarium.
Thanks to the tunnel under the aquarium and the gigantic glass wall (20 meters by 5 meters) you can admire the beautiful manta ray, sharks, and many other inhabitants. It looks like you are diving.
In addition, you can now also meet even more animals via an AR experience (augmented reality). Through this fun and spectacular experience with the HoloLens 2 Microsoft glasses, you can see holographic animal projections with the large aquarium as the background.
Please note, this ‘GRAND LARGE‘ experience is included in your entrance ticket but you must reserve a time at the info point in the hall of Nausicaá. In any case, we thought it was definitely worth experiencing!
Behind-the-scenes tour of Nausicaá
If you want to make your day even more special, we definitely recommend booking this behind-the-scenes visit. You will go out with a personal guide who will tell you all about the largest aquarium in Nausicaá.
You will receive an explanation about feeding the fish, cleaning the water, divers, etc… We all found it very interesting. And the children also each received a shark tooth as a gift. Keep in mind that the explanation is only given in French.
We had lunch in the Calypso Café. The price is good and you also have a view of the beautiful beach of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
You will find a children’s menu with, among other things, fish nuggets with fries. For the adults, you can choose between different salads, fish and chips and (if you are there in the right season) of course mussels!
Besides the Calypso bar, you also have the Tropical Lagoon bar that overlooks the lagoon and the coral reef or the Bistrot Cote Plage.
In total, count on a full day to explore Nausicaá. We did the AR experience and the large aquarium last, which was a nice end to a fantastic day.
Evancy hotel in Boulogne-sur-Mer
We will spend the night in the new Evancy hotel. It is located on the marina, about a 10-minute walk from Nausicaá and 15 minutes from the old city center of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
It is an ideal hotel for families because you can choose an apartment with a view of the harbor. Everything is there in the studio, with a kitchen, bathroom with shower, TV, sitting area, and a spacious terrace from where you have a beautiful view of the harbor and Boulogne-sur-Mer.
In the evening we prepared something ourselves because the children were too tired to go out with them. But that’s no punishment when you can eat it afterward on the beautiful terrace.
In the morning you can provide breakfast yourself or opt for a delicious breakfast basket. Don’t forget to order your breakfast one day ahead. Delicious chocolate cakes, a baguette, butter, yogurt, … Ideal for getting up on Sunday morning. You can pick up the breakfast at the reception.
After checking out, you can choose to explore the old town of Boulogne-sur-Mer or make it another day at the beach. Or both!
It was a little too cold for us on the beach, but we went to admire the nice beach houses. And the rest of the time we enjoyed the beautiful old town of Boulogne-sur-Mer and the fish stalls on the harbor.
We wrote an entire article on what to do Boulogne-Sur-Mer.
In any case, we were very enthusiastic about the Nausicaá aquarium, the Evancy hotel, and Boulogne-sur-Mer. Are you going south soon or do you have a weekend to plan somewhere? Boulogne-sur-Mer is the place to be!
Save this article for later
Do you want to save this article for later? Share it on your Pinterest board with fun ideas for weekends away or trips (with children).