For the past four years we have, without fail, stopped off at the Musée de la Mer to check in with le bébé phoque. The Musée de la Mer is part aquarium, part museum dedicated to showing the ocean in all its forms with a particular focus on the Bay of Biscay.
It is housed in a beautiful Art deco building overlooking the ocean. Just a little further along the coast is it’s sister museum; the snazzy, new gleaming white City of the Ocean.
Anyway back to le bébé phoque, or baby seal. He isn’t much of a baby anymore, in fact he is exactly the same age as my son – eight and a half. The grey seal was born in captivity at the aquarium and it is the reason why we travel into Biarritz every year. My son is convinced he knows which seal it is and will often lie down next to a dozing seal in the tank and compare his height with the seal’s length.
We could spend hours in the aquarium, watching the seals, sharks and other marine life; especially if it is feeding time. The aquarium has a huge shark tank; residents include Hammerheads, White Tip and Black Tip Reef Sharks and Zebra Sharks.
We have tended to visit on stormy days, when there is little else to do. The day we visited it was a sweltering forty degrees outside, however the aquarium is fully air conditioned so it provided relief from the heat.
What sets the aquarium apart from it’s British counterparts are it’s little art and exhibition projects. When we visited there was an excellent marine photography exhibition and an art project featuring a giant sculpture of a fish made from plaster, with lots of different coins representing the fishes scales. Inside the big fish were little fish. These smaller fish were made by children from clay, with buttons representing the scales. Previously I have seen colourful papier-mâché jellyfish suspended from the ceiling.
The aquarium also has a handling pool with a sea cucumber, star fish and spiny sea urchins. We purchased our discounted tickets online at our campsite, you can also buy a combined ticket which gives entry to the Musée de la Mer and Cite de la Ocean. Enjoy your visit!
Musée de la Mer, Plateau Atalaye, 64200 Biarritz, France