Puy du Fou was described to me as a must-visit place – perfect for home education with a good dose of history mixed with incredible entertainment. It was described as a theme park but without rollercoasters but the most amazing shows. That people come from all over to visit – including America and Japan. I enquired about the possibility of complimentary tickets in return for a review and am delighted to tell you that they said yes, including emotion passes and lunch. All opinions are honest and my own – besides I also have video footage to let Puy du Fou speak for itself.
About Puy du Fou
Puy du Fou is a historical theme park in Les Epesses in the heart of the Vendée region of Western France, and is the second most popular theme park in France after Disneyland Paris. But it offers something we have never seen anywhere before – with stunts that will astound and amazing you (well they did us!). This includes not only the talented actors but the scenery too!
Set in 50 hectares of forest and gardens there are variety of historical shows with actors and animals recreating high drama such as Roman Gladiators, Vikings, and King Arthur – with spectacular special effects. You can listen to a translation in your own language via the app (your own headset is required but it is quite loud and difficult to hear over the original). Even if you don’t understand the language you can still follow the story, and the live action is incredible. The shows are suitable for a variety of ages, but some things youngsters may find upsetting (such as the fake blood).
As well as the shows there are reconstructed historic villages, including a medieval settlement and an 18th-century farm, where you can go into houses and watch artisans at work; and calm places great for time-out or cool down (with many water features including spray-jets) in the woodland and garden areas (with lots of well-cared for and beautiful flowers).
Our Experience of Puy du Fou
I was gifted our day at Puy du Fou which included entrance, Pass Emotion and lunch at Le Bistrot for five on a day in July when the French had already broken up for the school holidays. We located Puy du Fou with ease and parked with no problems in the free car park. Everything was straight forward and as soon as we entered we picked up our English map with details of the day’s programme.
Shows at Puy du Fou
We were blown away by the shows – I would describe them as like some Merlin Attractions, such as Warwick Castle or any of the Dungeons, meets the Circus – but so much bigger and better! The fighting scenes were so impressive at Le Signe Du Triomphe (Roman Games) that one of my children asked me if the blood was real!
We were staying a little way away at Les Genêts Campsite, St Jean-de-Monts, Vendee, so did not arrive as soon as the park opened and in fact didn’t get to see much before lunch but stayed until closing (at 11pm); in that time we got to see 5 of the 7 big shows (Le Signe du Triomphe, Les Vikings, Le Bal Des Oiseaux Fantomes, Le Secret de La Lance and Les Orgues de Feu) as well as seeing many of the other shows, walk-throughs and attractions. We particularly liked the Roman Games for the crowd participation, action and animals, Les Vikings for the amazing skills especially bringing up the Viking ship from underwater with people on it! The closeness of the birds such as falcons, eagles, owls and vultures in Le Bal des Oseaux Fantomes; and the amazing stunts at castle turning in Le Secret de La Lance. The night show of Les Orgues de Feu was fantastic with its lights and effects and certainly worth staying for if you are there at the end of the day.
I have to admit that I can get very claustrophobic with crowds and obviously too much sensory input can be a little much for The Sensory Seeker – but honestly Puy Du Fou is so well organised and spaced out that the only time it felt a little busy was whilst exiting from Le Signe du Triomphe (note this was with using Pass Emotion so may be well worth purchasing). Otherwise ensure you arrive early. There is plenty of people entertaining the crowds including a man with an extra arm! Or just generally the French themselves (who were singing, chanting and generally keeping everyone’s spirits high).
Walk-through Shows at Puy du Fou
We visited three of the walk-through attractions during our visit to Puy du Fou which had a good mixture of live actors, special effects and story (some of which was in English as well as French to read). The Renaissance du Chateu; Le Premier Royaume (Attila the Hun); and Le Mystere de La Perouse (with great effects to feel like you are sailing – and in a storm!). These looked amazing but it was the one time where our lack of French let us down and we could not understand a lot of it (including what I assumed was being told that I was not allowed to use my phone for photography and filming).
Eating at Puy du Fou
There is a picnic area, fast food outlets and several restaurants, including live shows over dinner (Le Café de la Madelon, close to Le Bourg 1900; and Le Relais de Poste in Le Village XVIII). Food is served at differing times which begin at 9:15am and ends at 22pm (at La Queue de L Etang). If you are wanting to eat in one of the restaurants then it is recommended that you book in advance – and then you collect your restaurant voucher outside from the ticket office on the far right.
Le Bistrot at Puy du Fou
We opted for Le Bistrot which is by (11) Les Automates Musiciens (a unique concert performed from the windows of Le Bourg 1900’s square). Le Bistrot is very light and airy – which could be attributed to the massive window at the front with stained glass around the edges. The tables are well-spaced out in Le Bistrot and there are lots of lovely little details and things adorning the walls. It was a very hot day but the temperature in Le Bistrot was just right.
Le Bistrot offers a Brasserie menu in a Belle époque style restaurant with amazing table service. Not only did those who serve us treat us well but they took the time to not only translate the menu to English for us all, but also discuss more about the different items to help us fully consider our choices; of which there was a great variety to meet everyone’s tastes, as well as the opportunity to try out something new. The menu at Le Bistrot is charmingly set out like an old fashioned newspaper. The food at Le Bistrot was promptly served, tasted delicious, and as you would expect was the right temperature. I would also add that some of the servings were rather generous.
Tips for Visiting Puy du Fou
- Download the app – this can not only greatly help you plan your day but also has an interactive map – where you can see yourself moving, helping you to find your way to the next great attraction. The app also allows you to translate some of the big shows through your device (headphones are required).
- Plan your day. The shows for the day go live the evening before on the website – or you can pick up a map (available in a variety of languages) which is tailored for that day with each of the shows and times on. Remember to factor in eating, toilet stops and getting around the park. The map is colour coded – red numbers are the shows, yellow letters are the restaurants, blue are the night time and hotels and green are nature attractions.
- Arriving in good time and think about your exits from the shows. This planning also involves arriving at the shows in good time as they have a cut-off for when people can still be seated. If you arrive early you will get more choice about where to sit – which is really useful if it is hot and you want to sit in the shade.
- Wear sensible clothing. The park opened at 10am on our visit and the last act did not finish until 11pm. It was really hot and we did a lot of walking. You can go back to the car if required (grab a handstamp) so you might want to have something available if it should get cooler or start raining – either way good footwear is a must.
- Have something to record your memories. I know ideally we would just want to watch and experience, but honestly you’ll be so blown away you will want to take at least a couple of snaps (where you are allowed). You may want to take a digital camera, or have a battery charger for your phone.
Things to Know when Visiting Puy du Fou
- Puy du Fou has FREE Parking and FREE WiFi.
- There is good security – which includes a bag search on the way in.
- You can leave and have your hand stamped to re-enter.
- They speak French and English around the park and in the restaurants (this does not apply to everyone but you will be sure to find someone).
- Prioritise the shows – you will not be able to see all the shows in one day.
- The shows are listed in order of importance – well the big shows are the first 7.
- You can access the stands to shows 1 to 6 is possible 30 minutes before the schedule time – with a ‘Pass Émotion’ (fast pass) you can arrive up to 10 minutes before.
- Remember that when there are vultures flying right at you with their mouths open that they only eat dead things! Or so my son reassured me!
Conclusions of Puy du Fou
Obviously Puy du Fou has a lot to offer and there is probably so much more I could say about it (including the fact that there is the option to stay over in one of their hotels). It was a great experience for us all and I particularly liked the educational factor of it. Our children are used to a lot of thrills so I think the fact that even our teenager enjoyed himself says a lot about the place. Well worth a visit – would definitely recommend fuelling up at Le Bistrot (it is a long day) and having the Pass Emotion.
I was gifted our day at Puy du Fou which included entrance, Pass Emotion and lunch at Le Bistrot for five. All opinions are honest and my own.