Nausicaa – Centre national for the sea is Europe’s largest public aquarium. This aquarium offers visitors a unique chance to explore the secrets of the oceans while providing a wealth of information on marine ecosystems and conservation. In this guide, we present everything you need to know to prepare for your visit Nausicaa aquarium.
From sharks to penguins, there’s something for everyone in the 70 aquariums, which house more than 58,000 creatures.
The Nausicaa experience is designed to delight visitors of all ages. Children can explore and learn through interactive exhibits, while adults will appreciate the information provided on marine conservation efforts.
Nausicaa aquarium map
Location: See on Google Maps
Nausicaá is located in the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the Pas-de-Calais department of northern France. Boulogne-sur-Mer is on the Channel coast, around 220 kilometres north of Paris.
The Nausicaà National Sea Centre is open all year round, including public holidays. Here are the official opening hours:
September to June: 10am to 6pm.
July and August: 9am to 7pm.
Nausicaa aquarium tickets
The price of an admission ticket depends on your age and the date of your visit. Here are the official prices in force:
Adult (12+): €30
Children (aged 3 to 12): €23
Disabled person: €26.50
Seniors (60+): €26.50
Here are some of the highlights of Nausicaa – centre national de la mer that you won’t want to miss:
- Meet species that will take your breath away: From the grey reef shark to the enormous manta ray, the aquarium is home to over 1,600 species.
- Explore 70 aquariums housing 58,000 animals: Take time to explore all the aquariums and marvel at the diversity of marine life.
- Discover your favourite shows, such as sea lion medical training: The sea lion medical training show is one of the public’s favourites. It showcases the intelligence and creativity of these amazing creatures.
- Stop off at the Tropical Lagoon and enter the caiman rainforest: The Tropical Lagoon offers a glimpse of a South American ecosystem and is home to species of crocodilians such as caimans.
The origins of Nausicaá date back to the 1980s, when Boulogne-sur-Mer, a port town in northern France, envisaged creating a centre dedicated to the discovery of the marine environment. The project was initiated by Philippe Vallette, then mayor of Boulogne-sur-Mer, who wanted to promote knowledge and protection of the oceans.
In 1991, the first centre opened its doors under the name “Centre de la Mer”. It was located in a renovated former ferry terminal building. At the time, it already featured aquariums, exhibitions and installations to raise public awareness of marine life and the importance of preserving the oceans.
Over the years, the Centre de la Mer has become increasingly successful, attracting more and more visitors. This has led to expansion and development projects to meet the growing demand.
In 1998, a new space was inaugurated, offering new exhibitions and facilities.
In 2007, the Centre de la Mer was renamed Nausicaá, in reference to the mythological figure of Nausicaa, the Phaeacian princess who helped Ulysses on his voyage. The new name symbolised Nausicaá’s mission to welcome and help visitors discover and understand the marine world.
In 2018, Nausicaá undertook a major extension project to become the largest aquarium in Europe. The new space was designed by architect Jacques Rougerie and inaugurated in 2018. It offers spectacular exhibits, huge tanks and modern facilities to provide an immersive experience for visitors.
The Nausicaà National Maritime Centre offers three main areas of exploration: “Journey to the High Seas”, “Man and the Shore” and “In the Eye of the Climate”. Each area offers a unique perspective on our oceans and the impact we have on them.
The ‘Journey to the High Seas’ exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the world’s oceans, discovering the marine ecosystem and the diversity of life that thrives there. Visitors can walk through tunnels surrounded by water and marine life, giving them an up-close-and-personal experience.
The “Man and Shores” exhibition focuses on the relationship between man and the ocean, highlighting the impact of human activities on marine life. This section of the aquarium provides valuable information on how we can help to preserve our oceans.
The ‘In the Eye of the Climate’ exhibition offers an immersive projection experience, highlighting the impact of global warming on the oceans and what we can do to combat it. This space provides essential information about climate change and how we can reduce our impact on the environment.
How do get there?
Only 2 hours from Paris, London and Brussels on the A16 motorway.
Arriving at Boulogne-sur-Mer
Take exit 29 (Boulogne-Port) or exit 32 (Boulogne-Nord – Nausicaá)
Then follow the signs to the Aquarium
Via Boulogne-Ville station
From Paris Nord, Lille and Brussels Midi stations, and even by Eurostar via Calais Frethun.
Boulogne-Ville station is a 30-minute walk and a 10-minute bus ride from the Aquarium on line F.
A marina just a stone’s throw from the town centre!
Take advantage of the marina to moor your boat just a few hundred metres from Nausicaá.
Via Eurovéloroute 4 (which runs from Roscoff to Kiev) / La vélomaritime
This coastal route takes you directly to Nausicaá from Calais or Etaples/Le-Touquet, following a signposted route suitable for cyclists. The cycle route passes right in front of Nausicaá, so you can’t miss us!
Line F, Nausicaá stop
From Boulogne-sur-Mer town centre or railway station, take line F towards “Baston” and get off at Nausicaá.
By camper van
The Moulin Wibert car park has 30 spaces for motorhomes on the cliffs between Boulogne and Wimereux.
Visit Nausicaa aquarium as a tourist?
If you’re planning a trip to France, and more specifically to the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, you absolutely must visit Europe’s largest aquarium. This amazing marine attraction is home to more than 58,000 aquatic creatures spread over 36,000 square metres.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to spend your time as a tourist at Nausicaà centre national de la mer:
Explore the different zones
The Nausicaa aquarium is made up of several areas that are home to the different types of marine life that exist in the world.
We recommend you start at the entrance, where you’ll discover a wide range of marine creatures. As you explore, continue to navigate through the other zones:
Zone 1: The Opal Coast
In this zone, you’ll discover the marine life that populates the Opal Coast and the nearby English Channel. Expect to see sea urchins, starfish, turbot and lobster, to name but a few species.
Zone 2: The tropical lagoon
The tropical lagoon area is where you’ll find a variety of brightly coloured tropical fish, including the fabulous Nemo clownfish. Large numbers of sharks and rays also call this lagoon home, so get ready for some exciting marine encounters.
Zone 3: The temperate lagoon
This zone reproduces the coastal habitats of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It’s home to many species of fish, invertebrates and colourful corals, making it one of the liveliest zones.
Zone 4: The open sea
The open sea zone is where you’ll discover the large marine species that live in the open sea, such as giant manta rays and different types of whales. You’ll also see how fishing boats affect the ocean ecosystem.
Zone 5: The underwater canyon
The underwater canyon is designed to mimic the habitats of deep-sea creatures, including rays, sharks and octopuses. You’ll also learn how ocean currents and deep-sea activities shape the ecosystem.
Discover 3D cinema
Nausicaà Centre national de la mer offers an immersive 3D cinema experience that can enhance your experience of the marine world. This impressive cinematography explores both the beauty and horror of the ocean depths, habitats and creatures.
Get up close to the penguins
Nausicaa aquarium has a special section dedicated to penguins, where you can witness the lives of these captivating animals. They are amazing creatures to watch, characterised above all by their well-organised and cooperative behaviour.
Attend marine conservation events
The National Sea Center is a hub for ocean conservationists and organises several events on the same theme. Attend one of these events and you’ll learn more about marine conservation and how to make the oceans healthier.
Learn from the various shows and activities
Every day, shows and interactive activities are organised, making the Nausicaa Boulogne sur Mer aquarium even more attractive to visitors, who can learn more about marine life in a fun way. The experts share their knowledge through various presentations, making the journey even more attractive.
Enjoy the restaurant
The centre has unique restaurants where you can enjoy fresh and aquatic specialities. The panoramic view from the entrance of the centre can be another remarkable pleasure while you enjoy your French cuisine.
How much time do need to visit?
To explore Nausicaà properly, you’ll need at least 3 to 4 hours. However, if you want to see all the shows and activities, you’ll need a whole day.
Our practical advice
- Buy your tickets online in advance to avoid queues at the entrance.
- Allow enough time to explore all the exhibitions and take part in the interactive activities.
- Respect the rules and safety instructions, particularly as regards touching animals and taking photographs.
- Take advantage of the restaurant and relaxation areas to rest and eat during your visit.
FAQ about Nausicaa aquarium
Is there a cafeteria at Nausicaa?
Yes, there is a restaurant and cafeteria at Nausicaa. They offer a range of refreshments, snacks and full meals. The restaurant offers magnificent sea views and excellent seafood dishes.
Can I bring my own food and drink?
No, visitors are not allowed to bring their own food and drink to Nausicaa. However, if you have a special diet, you can contact staff in advance.
Can I take photos and videos at the aquarium?
Yes, visitors are allowed to take photos and videos for personal use only. However, the use of professional equipment such as tripods and drones is prohibited.
Is Nausicaa accessible to disabled people?
Yes, it is fully accessible to disabled visitors. The aquarium provides wheelchairs and has areas reserved for visitors with reduced mobility. Audioguides and sign language interpreters are also available on request.
Is there a gift shop?
Yes, there is a gift shop at Nausicaa. It sells a variety of souvenirs, toys, books and clothing related to the marine theme.
What other attractions are there in Boulogne-sur-Mer?
Boulogne-sur-Mer is a beautiful coastal town with many attractions in addition to Nausicaa – Centre National de la Mer. Other popular tourist destinations in the town include:
The old town and castle
The naval museum
Nausicaá is an inspiring example of the importance of raising public awareness of the marine environment and promoting conservation. Its history is a testament to the passion and commitment of many people to preserve our precious blue planet. Visit Nausicaa aquarium, visitors can not only admire the beauty of marine life, but also be inspired to take action to protect the oceans and preserve biodiversity for future generations.