By Lucille Pascanet
The Cité de l’Océan in Biarritz offers fun, immersive experiences around the ocean, for young and old, but also for documentaries and illustrative landmarks. Immerse yourself in the heart of the museum
After clearing the primary sewer corridor, visitors descend a white staircase. Over three floors, immersive attractions and merchandising kiosks are dotted. Few visitors are indoors on this foggy Saturday, but that’s not for lack of demand: The establishment respects a strict standard. “We have chosen the comfort and quality of the visit, respecting government regulations,” explains Olivier Mercoli, director of the Cité de l’Océan and Aquarium.
Moving statues narrate the great moments of the ocean “conquest”: the faces of Plato and Christopher Columbus come to life to tell young and old alike the legend of Atlantis or the Sargasso Sea. A little further, a part of the mega-city is dedicated to the poles. The idea of this place: “Live immersive experiences and learn while having fun,” the director elaborates.
House-produced content available: Brand new “50 Shark Shades” created in collaboration with Arte, series in episodes “Mental Walk” It provides a better understanding of the ocean and those who inhabit it. Little ones and snow floe lovers will also find what they’re looking for in the Polar Experience: playing with penguins and orcas is possible, with this screen that takes visitors back to the ice floe with the animals.
For apprentice surfers, two attractions are found: standing on a movable board, 6-year-old visitors riding Indonesian waves, wind in their faces and music in their ears and virtual reality headsets on their eyes.
They can also compete against each other in the most beautiful locations in the world: Cote de Basque of course, but also Belhara, Polynesia… A great opportunity to become the next Greg Knoll.
To recover from your feelings, take a trip to the “Virtual trip 360”. Sitting in armchairs, visitors in helmets become divers in the waters filled with magnificent fish. Dolphins, sharks, octopuses… The helmet gives the feeling of swimming with animals. At the end of the twelve minutes of attraction, back to reality is amazing. Only downside: the sitting position prevents exploration of the environment we’d like to be able to walk in, and the gravity remains completely passive.
For more action, head to “Bathyscape,” a dynamic cinema or “Seaborg,” which combines virtual reality with real sensations. Harnessed to a machine, helmets on their faces, the four passengers take off for a four-minute flight on the back of a seagull.
In the programme: an unprecedented and eventful perspective of the beaches of the Basque Coast, but also of the beaches of the Landes and many other wonderful landscapes, to be observed at your best. It is the ocean city that produced and photographed the images. To actually observe it, but from the mainland this time, just leave the museum: the Cité de l’Océan is just a few minutes from the Côte des Basques.
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