It really must be Europe’s best kept secret, certainly none of the people I ever tell about it have heard of this amazing place to visit!
Started in the ‘70’s by a group of French historical re-enactors, Puy de Fou covers a massive site north west of Bressuire. The acres of grounds resemble a stunningly elegant RHS garden. Beautifully manicured lawns, divine rose gardens, an immaculate knot garden - every path you take delights the senses from the impressive mature trees to the scented flowers. There is not an iota of litter in sight, despite the thousands of daily visitors. Apparently, birds have been trained to collect any rubbish at night! Every structure and building is beautifully designed and where original village buildings stood, these have been sympathetically restored. The signs and even the food stalls are designed to fit into the landscape - even the bins are wooden. The food is heathy and delicious. And this is all before you even start on what you have come for!
From a full sized Roman amphitheatre to a Viking ship rising from the depths, Puy de Fou stages historical re-enactments on an epic scale. Christians are led into the arena, where they are tried and condemned to death – and fed to a tiger who devours them one by one! Chariot racing, with immaculately matched and trained horses, camels, lions, a flock of geese and bullocks all appear in the arena to the delight of the audience. A caged prisoner cowers beneath a massive male lion who strides into the arena and seems to know just where to find dinner! The central podium rises and falls, sends out enormous flames and reveals beautiful mosaics. The massive sun shades overhanging the arena echoing the originals in Rome beg the question of how the ancient Romans, without todays metals and hydraulics, achieved the same incredible achievements. The show is stunning.
Despite the thousands of daily visitors, the park doesn’t seem crowded and apart from queueing to get into each attraction, wandering through the grounds is a delight. It is impossible to see everything in one day. As well as the staged performances, there are static shows to walk through, from a World War 1 Trench to a pre historic burial sequence. Every bend and corner has something to stimulate the eye and draw comment.
Within the grounds is a massive indoor theatre, where we saw a jaw dropping production featuring the three musketeers – from incredibly trained horses to a stunning water show, the audience was spellbound.
Outside, hundreds of birds appear in a display that is truly incredible.
To get more information, the website is https://www.puydufou.com/en
One of the visitors with us on this visit commented that it was the best day out he has ever had.
To celebrate a special birthday or event, it is a spectacular place to take the whole family. No one will be disappointed. You will come away completely amazed and with incredible memories. It is within easy reach of Le Prieure for a day out. Take your own food or eat there. With restaurants and snack bars designed in the style of the area, there are lots of opportunities for different types of dining and it isn’t ridiculously overpriced.
One thing to be aware of, the audio translations into different languages are now via an app on your phone and so you will need to take earphones. Available at Puy de Fou, they will set you back six or twelve euros, but taking your own and getting the app in advance can save time and money on the day.
Take a break in France, stay at Le Prieure for a week or two, or enquire about short breaks based around the flights from Stansted to Poitiers. Hire a car and have a holiday that will leave you with lasting family memories. From a four year old to grandma and grandpa, it is a stunning experience that will leave the younger members or your family speechless – and the more senior ones amazed at how all the spectacular effects are achieved.