Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Crafty Traveller


The Daily Mail, UK
Forget Mickey - these are the French theme parks to wow a family
By Fred Mawer
PUBLISHED: 11:55 EST, 26 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:55 EST, 26 May 2013
Let me reveal a little secret to you. Disneyland Paris is not the only theme park in France. In fact, in my opinion, it may not even be the most enjoyable.
Last summer, I took my family to two other parks far less well known to Brits. We went to Puy du Fou, south-east of Nantes in the Vendée, which brings to life periods of history in shows of epic proportions, and to high-tech Futuroscope, near Poitiers. We had a brilliant time at both.
What they offer is at turns surprising, thrilling and culturally stimulating. Here's why you should go too, and my tips on visiting.

 Puy du Fou
Why go? For the shows - in scale and sophistication superior to anything I've seen at any other theme park. During the daytime in the Grand Parc, gladiators battle and charioteers race in a Roman stadium; Vikings rise miraculously out of a lake on a longship, then ransack a village; English and French armies fight over a medieval castle; and birds of prey swoop to within inches of your head.
Impressive though these shows are, they are nothing compared to the Cinéscénie night-time extravaganza. Some 1,200 actors (local volunteers of all ages) and a vast cast of animals (geese, sheep, pigs, oxen) movingly recount the history of the region, from the Middle Ages to the Second World War, in gigantic, living tableaux. Images projected on to watery screens and large-scale pyrotechnics complete the entertainment. Remember the opening show for the Olympics?


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