The wolf is an animal that fascinates young and old alike--fascinates as much as scares. Many children’s stories feature the “big bad wolf”.
Sleeping with wolves is a rare and unusual experience, but it’s possible not far from Luxembourg at Sainte-Croix animal park, located in Rhodes, France, between Metz and Strasbourg, around 150 kilometres from the border.
A first in Europe
The park was created in 1980 when Liliane and Gérald Singer decided to transform their land into a park. People used to come here to see the fauna, before Sainte-Croix became a wildlife park.
“Everything has grown. In the beginning, you could walk around the park in two hours. Today, it takes more than a day to see everything,” says a smiling Clément Leroux, head of communications for the 120-hectare park, which has 1,500 animals of a hundred different species living in semi-liberty.
Four lodges were added to the park in 2010, for the park’s 30th anniversary, letting people prolong their adventure into the night. “Visitors have to leave the site in the evening, but those sleeping in these lodges can stay. This allows them to have a special look at the animals, to live for a few hours in a unique atmosphere, in immersion, to be face-to-face with the wild side of nature.”
It’s a concept that has spread widely across the continent in recent years. “But we were the first to set up in Europe,” Clément Leroux says.
Bears, coyotes, bison…
Today, on the initiative of brothers Pierre and Laurent Singer, Sainte-Croix has 46 lodges. There is also a hotel with the architecture of an old American barn, called “La Grange aux Coyotes”, whose 11 rooms offer views of coyotes, black bears and raccoons.
There are also 35 “nature” lodges available: four lodges and yurts for deer-watching, five tree houses (for two or five people), and 17 lodges on stilts facing bears and bison. And there are nine lodges scattered throughout the territory of the park’s five wolf packs. The latter are the most popular.
€200 per night
The park has received an Ecolabel from the EU and advocates short supply chains, sustainable materials and renewable energy. Its objective is “to reduce the environmental impact of a stay as much as possible.”
Hotel stays are possible in season, i.e. from April to November, but also when the park is closed from December to mid-March. Prices start at €110 per person (which includes overnight stay, entrance fees for two days and half-board). But if you want to sleep with the wolves, the price goes up to around €200.
This article was originally published on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.