+44 (0) 20 3265 1052 or Email me
Dominique’s visit to Le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou the theme park par excellence
For 10 years I’ve managed to avoid theme parks like the plague, and crowds for quite a bit longer. Last July I gave in with much reluctance to spend a day in what must be the most unusual theme park in Europe. One of our new villa owners had mentioned in passing while showing me his property the day before that he regularly went there, and on his own! My family and I were spending a few days quietly discovering the beautiful beaches of the Vendée coast.
Our day at the historic theme park of Le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou couldn’t have been more of a contrast. The beauty, artistry and entertainment value were simply overwhelming. It was crowded, yes, and we were occasionally swept away by the grand flow of excited spectators anxious not to miss the next punctual performance. There is little to fault in this vast, beautifully-orchestrated “parc” which breaks age barriers in an educational and spectacular way.
The main part of the entertainment consists of four main performances: The Gladiators, The Vikings, The Dance of the Phantom Birds and The Battle of the Dungeon (see photos). In the summer there is a much sought-after evening performance of an epic based on 700 years of Vendéen history with 1,000 actors volunteering their impressive talents.
If you want a rest from the theatrical entertainment (all in French of course) there are 20 acres of landscaped grounds with an area dedicated to the animals used in the performances (donkeys, goats, wolves, geese and many more) and kept in compounds replicated from the middle ages. You can also discover three faithfully reconstructed villages: one medieval, one 18th century and another from the 1900s.
A further intriguing aspect is the price: at 24 Euros per adult and 13.50 Euros per child per day it’s probably worth dedicating two days to the Parc, although one is plenty to keep the kids dreaming for days.
The Gladiators A spectacle set in a 3rd century full-size Gallo-Roman coliseum where gladiators fight, horse chariots race, Christians are fed to the lions, and exotic and domestic animals are paraded.
The Vikings The year is 1000, an idyllic village wedding is interrupted by desperate monks chased by Vikings who attack from a 20 metre dragon ship emerging from the river.
The Dance of the Phantom Birds In the ruins of a castle haunted by 13th century memories with dozens of birds of prey who fly alarmingly close to the spectators.
The Evening Show There are 28 performances each summer of an epic historic show with 1,000 performers and the voices of many famous French actors. You must book in advance.
The Battle of the Dungeon Set during the 100 Years War in 1429, an impressive equestrian display and tournament give way to a fierce attack in which the castle spits fire.
For more information consult www.puydufou.fr
Photos © Puy du Fou
See another article and more photos >>
From our January 2005 newsletter