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Puy du Fou Theme Park (and the Vendee Coast)
Entertainment for the Whole Family
Puy Du Fou Theme Park is a must visit on your holiday to the Vendee Coast, France.
The Vendee Coast as part of west central France on the Atlantic Ocean is just south of Brittany so it just begins to pick up the Mediterranean weather; a warm climate with good weather and beaches.
The Puy Du Fou Theme park is well worth a visit but it's best to pre-book, especially if you wish to see the Cinescenie in the evening. The Grand Parc has a number of exhibits to explore including the medieval village and the Victorian era village with side-shows and entertainment going on throughout the day.
The main attractions include several main open-air shows run at regular intervals throughout the day, each lasting up to 40 minutes, including:-
- The Vikings
- Gallo-Roman Stadium where Gladiators fight and chariot races take place
- The spectacular Phantom Birds Dance, and
- The Battle of the Keep.
Late in the evening, usually starting at 10:30pm is the after dark spectacular two-hour Cinescenie show that takes place in the open-air with over 1000 actors taking part. This event is separate from the main day activities and requires its own ticket for entry. I would advise anyone wishing to stay on in the evening (after spending the day at Puy du Fou) to pre-book the show well in advance; due to its popularity the tickets are usually sold out almost as soon as they become available on the official Puy du Fou website.
Intro Video to Le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou
A short video by me filmed on our visit to the park giving just a quick view of some of the walks and scenes in the ‘Puy du Fou’ Park.
Location of Le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou, Vendee, France
Fantastic Theme Park in the Vendee, France, so much to see that you really need to spend two days there; and the two hour night show is spectacular.
Our Visits to Puy Du Fou
Just an hour drive inland from the coast Puy Du Fou is a must visit. Our first visit to this most fantastic theme park was just a day visit from 10:00 in the morning when they opened right through to the evening and then onto their open air nighttime show, Cinescenie which starts at 10:30 in the evening (just after dark) and goes onto until after midnight; when the temperature is still over 20C (70F).
In fact we liked the theme park so much, and one day was not enough time to see it all, we returned two years later and spent a whole two days there; even then it was a rush to see everything and we skipped the indoor water show (which we seen on our first visit) just to squeeze everything else in.
Below are some of the events we saw during our visits to this most spectacular Theme Park.
Gallo-Roman Stadium at Puy du Fou
Gladiators and Chariot Races
The Gladiators open air show is set in a replica of an amphitheatre that is 115 metres long and 75 metres wide and sits 6000 spectators. It recreates the atmosphere of Gaul during Roman times and is set during the time of Diocletian, when there was great unrest. The show features a traditional parade of people and animals, gladiatorial combat and chariot racing.
Spectacular Romans ShowClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Battle of the Keep at Puy du Fou
The Battle of the Keep, an open air show at Puy du Fou is based on a French Donjon in the year 1429 during the Grand Chivalry Festival when an attack by English Knights disrupts the tournament. This show features Jousting, trick-riding, horseback duels and a spectacular flame-throwing castle and other spectacular medieval armoured weapons.
Spectacular Show of Medieval French BattleClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Vikings at Puy du Fou
Viking Longboat Spectacular
The Vikings, another open air show at Puy du Fou, is set in a reconstructed 1000 year old fortress that is attacked by a Viking Longship. The story begins with a marriage in the village, just before the arrival of a Viking Longboat. Special effects include the emergence of a Longboat from underwater, and a saint walking on the water! Plenty of fighting, humour and in Pou Du Fou tradition, fire.
The Spectacular Viking ShowClick thumbnail to view full-size
Origin and History of the Vikings
From Tribal Roots to World Domination
The Romans was an Empire that spanned Europe and beyond, the Vikings was a tribe of people that traded with and conquered land piecemeal right across Europe, and at one point even reached Newfoundland. Their fragmented yet dogmatic approach to trade and conquest has had a profound and long lasting influence on culture and society right across Europe which anyone interested in genealogy should find fascinating, especially where you find some of your ancestral roots steaming back to the Vikings of Scandinavia. Two of my main ancestral branches can be traced back to family groups that came across with the Normans in their invasion and conquest of Britain in 1066, the Normans themselves being of Viking origin each of my two family lines can be traced back further to their Viking origins prior to their migration to Normandy. And on my wife’s side she has a family line that originated from the Scandinavia Vikings in the 8th century and who settled in Suffolk, England from where they are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086; therefore we have a keen interest in the history of the Vikings.
The War of the Vendee 1793 to 1796 (The Vendee Rebellion against the French Revolution)
The story of the momentous historical account in the history of the Vendee. A Catholic led revolt in the Vendee against the peasant uprising of France during the French revolution of 1789 to 1799.
The Vendee Coast, France
The Vendee coast is over 160 km and is made up of mostly sandy beaches; the sand being fine, very soft and very light in colour. This part of France has an exceptionally mild climate with plenty of day and night attractions including popular resorts such as Les Sables-d'Olonne, La Tranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-de-Monts.
Due to the exceptional mild climate during the summer months there are always plenty of night open-air shows such as fireworks displays, medieval festivals and the parade of boats. Many of these shows start after 8pm and go onto midnight when the temperature is still 20 Celsius (70F).
Inland, the chief attractions include the Marais Poitevin (an area of marshlands famed for wildlife), the forested area around the village of Mervent, the rolling countryside of the Bocage and the historical theme park at the Puy du Fou.
Beaches, Rocks and Fine French Art on the Vendee CoastClick thumbnail to view full-size
Saint Jean De Monts
One of Many Beautiful Coastal Towns on the Vendee Coast
One of our favourite haunts when in the Vendee coast is the gorgeous beach of Saint Jean de Monts, where we’ve spent a many a sunny day peacefully relaxing in the hot sun.
Location of Saint Jean De Mont, Vendee Coast, France
Just one of the fantastic destinations we often visit when on holiday in the Vendee Coast; great soft sandy beaches, beautiful blue skies and hot sun.
Evening Entertainment and Open-Air Shows in the Vendee
Keep An Eye Open for the Local 'What's On' Posters
Every year we go to France we head for the Vendee coast, and when we get there we look for the local attractions for the week; especially the open-air evening shows and festivals which are always spectacular.
The evening open air shows are popular because it’s the cooler part of the day, and many of them go on until midnight when it’s still 20C (70F).
We might not speak French and therefore may not be able to understand the words but the actions speak for themselves, and we are never disappointed.
Day trips in the Vendee and surrounding area are never a disappointment:-
- Noirmoutier Island offers a spectacular Mini-village and Papillons a Butterfly Farm.
- Saint-Gilles often have events such as the Parade of the boats and fireworks display.
- There are also a number of spectacular zoos in the area to visit, and
- Plenty of wildlife and historical places to fill your time during the day; that is of course if you can find the time to drag yourself off the gorgeous sandy beaches!
Then, on the journey back to England, time permitting, Le Mont-Saint-Michel in Northern France is always worth a day visit.
Open Air Shows and Medieval Festivals After DarkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Miniville on Noirmoutier Island
When the French do something they do it well, and miniature villages is no exception. This short video by me was taken when we had the delight of walking around one such model village at Noirmoutier, situated on a peninsular at the northern most point of the Vendee.
Miniature French Village on Noirmoutier IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Live Butterfly Garden Kit
Educational and one with nature as you watch your own butterflies develop.
Papillons on Noirmoutier Island
When we visited Noirmoutier Island on holiday, we spent the day there and during our day trip, as well as exploring the miniature village and the local aquarium (and squeezing in a quick lunch) we also had just enough time to spend a couple of gorgeous hours meandering around the local butterfly farm.
Of all the butterfly farms I’ve visited, Papillions is tops; as shown in the video below.
French Butterfly Farm on Noirmoutier IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Map Location of Noirmoutier
Normoutier is a small peninsular north of the Vendee with lots of attractions for a day trip including a model village, butterfly farm and aquarium.
Loosely speaking Chateau is the French word for Estate which can mean castle or wine cellar; plural for Chateau being Chateaux.
However, all over France, just like England, there are plenty of Chateaux in the context of castles. Many of these Chateaux (castles) are in ruins, many not. Some French castles are free to visit and a few have a small entry fee.
Many of the medieval festivals take place in the ruins of Chateaux during the cooler air of the evening in the Vendee. The festivals lay on plenty of food, drink and entertainment to last the evening through, and always with minstrels playing their music which is based on the medieval European bard who in times past toured from village to village to perform songs with lyrics that told stories about distant places or about real or imaginary events. In the medieval period It was through the minstrel bard travelling around the country conveying local news through their music and lyrics that information of local events was passed around; with surprising accuracy. Word of mouth these days quickly become corrupted by Chinese whispers but in the days of the Minstrels and Bards distortion of factual events was far less albeit the portraying of events was seen through their interpretation of reality e.g. dragons and demons may have been more real in their eyes than today.
Chateau de Commequiers as Backdrop for Medieval FestivalClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bygone Years at Challans, France 1910
Stepping Back in Time to 100 Years into the Past
When in the Vendee we don’t often venture away from the beach for long and explore the local towns inland, unless it’s for a special event. Challans 1910 was one such event when for a day the locals blocked the roads into the city for the day and dressing up in Edwardian costume turned the clock back one hundred years to reveal how life was like France in 1910. And befitting of the occasion I made this video in post-production in the style of early film.
A large town in the Vendee well worth a day trip when they hold their annual step-back-in-time themed festival day.
I holiday in France
If you are a fan of Mr Bean you will love this movie of Mr Bean on holiday in France. One of the best movies made by the lovable Mr Bean. The story line is touching and funny, and as usual Mr Bean gets himself into many fixes but as always seems, by his naivety, to come out the other end with an innocent fate of fortune.