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w EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED Of course, trying to explain to two eight-year-olds that they are going to a theme park but will not be strapped into seats and whizzing through the air at high speed is a challenge. Before we arrived, twins Joe and


Nina were more excited about going to France than to Puy du Fou. In truth, none of us knew what to be expect. By the time we left, they couldn’t


stop talking about the fun they’d had – and they wanted to know more about the Vikings, the Romans, the Stone Age, the three musketeers and more. Like other theme parks, Puy du Fou has a queue-jump option, called a Pass Emotion, to avoid big queues for its signature attractions. We didn’t think the queues were excessive, but the pass enabled us to get seating first and arrive just 20 minutes before each performance, which definitely made our day easier. Two days was ample to see most of


what the park had to offer, and a daily timetable was available each night for us to plan our next day’s schedule.


Tried & Tested LA CITADELLE, PUY DU FOU


Our ‘back in time’ experience at Puy du Fou started the moment we walked under the portcullis into a ‘medieval’ fortress to our hotel, where even the staff dress in period costume. La Citadelle is the park’s newest hotel, with 74 classic rooms sleeping up to five, and 26 comfort rooms with space for three. Our family option included a separate room with bunk beds for Joe and Nina. The rooms have been designed to look


like an opulent, medieval chamber, with ornate oak beds, hand-painted murals, stained-glass windows and suspended lanterns. Even the toilet looked authentic! There was also a spacious walk-in shower (no bath) and a TV to relax in front of after a day in the park. The hotel features a main restaurant,


offering a good variety of buffet food, and an adjoining bar. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the park down tree-lined paths.


w LET THE GAMES BEGIN As soon as we had checked in to our on-site hotel La Citadelle, which to the kids’ delight was in a mock medieval village, we strolled into the park and headed for the 700-seat stadium that was hosting Le Signe du Triomphe Roman games. Soon we were joining the French peasants as they booed the Romans who dragged in prisoners to ‘fight’ soldiers and animals – including a real lion and tiger – before charging round the ring in horse-drawn chariots. One of my personal highlights was


Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes – a birds of prey display like no other. I’ve never been a huge fan of this type of attraction, but this was different, with a dramatic storyline as its backdrop. There were, at any one time, up to 330 eagles, falcons, vultures, kites and owls circling in the sky. Joe shrieked with delight when an owl brushed the top of his head as it swooped to the ground. A family favourite was the Mousquetaire de Richelieu, which


was based on a 17th-century love story. Set in an indoor theatre that filled with water to create a river, it featured everything from sword duels to flamenco dancing and equestrian stunts. Even before the show began, the


warm-up comedian had us all in stitches, as we watched a soldier attempt a sword fight with a boy from the audience. All the shows are in French and although we had audio translation headsets, Joe and Nina did not need to understand the words to become engrossed in the action. No theme park is complete without shops, but Puy du Fou uses history to its advantage with traditional craftsmen working and selling their wares in its period villages. It has also created an art nouveau-style village, Le Bourg, where the main tourist shop sells every battle costume, sword, helmet or souvenir a child could want. Needless to say, Joe soon had an impressive-looking sword and Nina was clasping a quill ink pen (who says gender stereotypes don’t exist?). We ate at a variety of restaurants in the park; our lunch favourite was the typically French Le Bistrot and our dinner favourite, Le Café de la Madelon, which was new this year. If your clients want to splash out


on an evening meal during their stay, Le Café de la Madelon is the one to


66 travelweekly.co.uk 30 August 2018


BELOW:


Juliet, Joe and Nina outside La Citadelle


BELOW RIGHT: Mousquetaire de Richelieu


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