There’s loads of family fun and thrilling history at the fabulous French theme park Puy du Fou

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VIKINGS lay waste to a village earlier than its plucky inhabitants blow their longboat from the water with a blast that just about takes my eyebrows off.

Stuntmen wreathed in flames plunge from atop towers, mysterious clergymen vanish into skinny air, a herd of cattle stampedes throughout the battlefield and there may be even time for a marriage . . . all within the house of 30 breathless minutes.

Corbis – Getty

Caesar could give it the thumbs down, however your loved ones will give it an enormous thumbs up

My children — Charlotte, eight, and her five-year-old brother Leo — sit open-mouthed in surprise.

That is the third historic spectacular they’ve watched right now and it doesn’t appear like the novelty will put on off any time quickly.

This needs to be no shock, as there actually is nowhere like Puy du Fou.

Set within the Vendee area of France, it’s the nation’s second-biggest theme park behind Disney — and is about as removed from the jolly capers of Mickey and his pals as you can think about.

 If you squint just a little you could easily be in the original Colosseum in Rome - but this is more fun

Getty – Contributor

If you happen to squint just a bit you can simply be within the authentic Colosseum in Rome – however that is extra enjoyable

For a begin, there aren’t any rides. As a substitute, the 140-acre website is dedicated to recreating completely different historic eras, from Roman occasions as much as the 19th century.

You may wander by means of interval villages of thatched cottages and watch artisan craftsmen ply their trades. There are landscaped gardens and walkways lined with statues that come to life.

However what attracts greater than two million guests to Puy du Fou yearly are the reveals.

A packed programme is carried out at completely different venues all through the day.

Every 30 minutes lengthy or so, they are perfect for fidgety children and cram in all of the particular results and stunts you’d count on in a Bond film.

 And pause for a moment for a stroll through an authentic-looking Medieval village

And pause for a second for a stroll by means of an authentic-looking Medieval village

Our first present of the day was Le Bal Des Oiseaux Fantomes — The Ghost Birds’ Dance.

A three,000-seat, open-air ampitheatre curving spherical a ruined chateau gives a spectacular backdrop.

We change on our headsets to translate the French dialogue so we will comply with the story about Eleanor of Aquitaine. However the plot performs second fiddle to the true stars of the present — some 200 birds.

Falconers swirl lures spherical their heads like lassos as birds of prey swoop down at horrifying pace.

 There's more than enough murder and mayhem at Puy du Fou to keep your little ones happy

There’s greater than sufficient homicide and mayhem at Puy du Fou to maintain your little ones completely satisfied

Gangly secretary birds strut throughout the ground and a flock of owls glide in to perch, Harry-Potter-like, on the ruins round us.

The finale sees all of the birds take to the skies directly. Eagles wheel above us and a vulture almost elements my hair because it sweeps at head-height throughout the group.

Subsequent up is Le Signe du Triomphe, a Roman present set in an unlimited gladiator area.

As soon as we’ve taken our seats, Caesar and his dignitaries arrive concurrently a bunch of rowdy commoners.

 Charioteers are a highlight of the Roman show set in a vast gladiator arena

Corbis – Getty

Charioteers are a spotlight of the Roman present set in an unlimited gladiator area

They stand at reverse ends of the stadium whipping up the viewers so it begins to really feel like a soccer match.

A bunch of prisoners should make it by means of numerous trials to win their freedom.

This begins off with vicious gladiator battles and culminates in an exhilarating Ben Hur-style chariot race.

The horse-drawn chariots thunder around the monitor inflicting savage blows on one another.


GETTING THERE: Fly from Luton or Gatwick to Nantes from £49pp return with
STAYING THERE: A one-night, two-day keep at an on-site lodge together with two days’ entry to the park for a household of 4 is from £288 in complete.

A two-night B&B keep at La Citadelle, with two days’ entry to the park for a household of 4 begins at £495.

Day passes to Puy du Fou begin at £30/£21 (grownup/little one).

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Actual sparks fly as they collide, wheels fall off and a rider is dragged from the sector by his foot after getting entangled in his horse’s reins.

Earlier than we’ve caught our breath we’re submitting into one in all Puy du Fou’s “immersive experiences”. Not like the reveals, these are everlasting sights you can stroll by means of, just like a British funfair’s haunted home.

 The theme park's Vikings show ends in an impressive blaze of fire and fury

The theme park’s Vikings present ends in a powerful blaze of fireside and fury

One of many park’s most up-to-date additions is Le Mystere De La Perouse, following the adventures of a doomed explorer whose ship vanished within the Pacific after a four-year expedition in 1788.

As we wander by means of more and more gloomy corridors, the partitions and ceiling transfer, giving the impression of being within the maintain of a ship buffeted by waves. It’s so convincing I’ve to hold on to a railing to maintain my ft.

The expertise is heightened by extras in interval costume huddling over maps and shouting orders.

Easter Island is seen on the horizon by means of a porthole then, spherical one other nook, the temperature abruptly drops as icebergs hove into view.

 The splendour of knights and castles does not feel like Disney, but could Disney do it any better?

Getty – Contributor

The splendour of knights and castles doesn’t really feel like Disney, however might Disney do it any higher?

Water gushes round our ft by means of gaping holes within the hull and fountains shoot above our heads to recreate the expedition’s remaining determined moments.

It’s inconceivable to see every thing Puy du Fou has to supply in in the future and if you wish to lengthen your go to, there are 5 on-site lodges, all themed round numerous historic ages.

We stayed on the lately opened La Citadelle, based mostly on a medieval fortress.

Barrels and farming tools are scattered spherical the country courtyard and the receptionists are dressed like Rapunzel.

 The attention to detail is breathtaking, adding to the thrill of seeing Viking longships attack

Getty – Contributor

The eye to element is breathtaking, including to the joys of seeing Viking longships assault

The rooms are equally themed in darkish wooden with flickering lamps hanging from chains. However there’s nothing medieval concerning the amenities. It’s like staying at Winterfell with free wifi.

We end our journey with the lakeside evening present Les Orgues de Feu.

As classical music performs, an eerie violinist in a neon robe glides throughout the water.

 From the air, the huge sprawl of the theme park's many arenas is awesome

Getty – Contributor

From the air, the large sprawl of the theme park’s many arenas is superior

She is joined by a ghostly pianist whose notes are mirrored by illuminated fountains.

The epic conclusion sees an infinite pipe organ rising out of the water and flames taking pictures into the air from the mouths of golden dragons.

With a lot to maintain households entertained, it’s troublesome to fathom why Puy du Fou is unknown to most Brits. After being in enterprise for 40 years, solely 15 per cent of tourists are overseas vacationers.

Its most ringing endorsement got here from our kids, who arrived dwelling with their heads swimming with heroic tales of knights and wizards, stuffed with questions on Romans and Vikings.

And never a pair of Mickey Mouse ears in sight.

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