Thursday, 4 August 2011

Out & About - Puy Du Fou, France

Ok, I know this blog is not really about holidaying in France, but I just have to talk about the Puy Du Fou. It’s out of this world!

As a parent, I have endured many things for the sake of making my daughter happy. Yeah, that unfortunately includes the latest Chipmunk movie: over one hour of high-pitched computerized voices... Oh the joys of parenthood!  Having said all that, Puy Du Fou is not one I had to endure, but a place where I became a child with eyes full of wonder myself.

Set in the middle of France, in the beautiful province of the Loire (pronounced Loo-are), the place I can unfairly compare it to is Disneyland. Even though they are nothing alike, the concept is the same. Puy Du Fou is a huge amazement park like Disney, however, instead of rides you watch performances, shows in movie set scale stages. It’s like travelling back in time to the Viking and Medieval eras,  the Coliseum , 18th Century and 1900s to watch Viking invasions, Knight Challenges, Lions fighting Gladiators (although not literally of course), Damsels in distress and birds of prey. Even if you are not the outdoor type or a history fanatic you will still find it entertaining.

One of the shows you just must watch is ‘La CinéScénie’. The sheer scale of this performance is mind boggling, starting with the fact that you will be one of 14000 people watching it at one time. With the Château de Puy Du Fou as a background, a lake, windmills and hundreds of actors and animals as part of the cast, I reckon the stage for this performance could quite easily be the size of a 5 or 6 football pitches. The production is basically about French history, going from Monarchy to post World War II via the French Revolution. However, this is far from being a show only people interested in ‘World History’ would enjoy.  With dancing, drama and amazing costumes, light and laser effects, explosions and fire, well trained animals and the best fireworks I have ever seen in my life, there is something for everyone.

‘La CinéScénie’ is a night show. It starts at 10pm and it can be a little too late for little ones, but my 9 year-old was in complete awe. As you will be sitting near a lake watching this performance, even if it’s summer, the temperature will drop so it is wise to leave the flip-flops at the hotel and go wrapped up in something warm. All the shows in Puy du Fou are also in French. If you don’t speak it enough to get the gist of the story you can hire translating headphones to do the job for you.

The other high-light for me was the “Dance of the Birds” where they basically bring out all sort of birds flying so low you could touch them. At the end, the feathery fleet is all let go off and 150 birds fly just above your head in the most amazing spontaneous dance. Owls, American Eagles, smaller birds of prey, Pelicans and many others in this amazing display of natural acrobatics. To see their wins in motion that up-close-and-personal is not to be missed. And don’t worry. They will not deliver little splash bombs to your head.

For bookworms... In the Medieval City and 18th Century Village there is a fantastic display of craftsmanship. All the manual crafts that are slowly becoming rare, but are nonetheless fascinating are represented: barrow building, leather conditioning and use, old-fashion bread making, pottery, iron work, joinery, calligraphy with feather and ink... It’s amazing to see how it was done on the old days, before computers and machinery. It also makes for amazing souvenirs: leather or personalized hand painted bookmarks, clay or iron markers amongst others. There is also a book shop in the 1900 Town Square with a variety of informative books about the shows you have watched or the eras they are set in. You can buy ink and feather pens, wax seals and other old fashion calligraphy items too! I was lost in there for hours! My husband is convinced I have a thing for paper in general, not just books. ^_^

If you ever come to France for a visit, this is definitely a place worth checking. The Puy du Fou is very well managed and organized so there are no real queues or hassle. Even when a show is about to open its doors and there is plenty of people waiting, it still runs smoothly.  The park is also fitted with good disable facilities and access. Don’t worry about getting there too early either. Most shows start from 10am and will run through to late afternoon so you can pick and choose in what order you do the rounds. There are night performances as well, if you are a night owl. The restaurants inside the park don’t really open for food until 11am so make sure you have you breakfast before coming over.

In short, get to France and become a Viking, Gladiator, Damsel-in-Distress or Knight for the day. No... I was not a Damsel in distress. It’s not my style. I was a Gladiator!!! A mean one at that too. ^_^

Ambient: *****

Food: ***
Price: £££
Children: Absolutely!
To check the rating system click here

Puy Du Fou
BP 25
85 590 Le Epesses
Tel: +33 (0) 820 09 10 10

1 comment:

  1. Sounds amazing girl. I hope to be able to go there someday. I would love to go anywhere out of the states. The place i dream of going is Italy but i want to travel to many places in Europe. Thanks for sharing, and it sounds like your having a great time.


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