Puy du Fou

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Le Puy du Fou
Puy-du-Fou-2.JPG
Medieval town
Slogan "L'Histoire n'attend que vous" (History is waiting for you)
Location Les Epesses, Vendée, France
Coordinates 46°53′36″N 0°55′55″W / 46.893340°N 0.932068°W / 46.893340; -0.932068Coordinates: 46°53′36″N 0°55′55″W / 46.893340°N 0.932068°W / 46.893340; -0.932068
Owner Association du Puy du Fou
Opened Cinéscénie: 1978
Grand Parc: 1989
Operating season From April to September
Area Cinéscénie:
23 hectares (57 acres)
Grand Parc:
55 hectares (140 acres)
Website Main site

Puy du Fou ([pɥi dy fu]) is a historical theme park in Les Epesses (between Cholet and La Roche-sur-Yon) in the heart of the Vendée region of Western France. The park brings more than 2 million visitors every year, making it the second most popular theme park in France after Disneyland Paris.[1][2]

History[edit]

The history of Puy du Fou as a theme park started in 1977 when Philippe de Villiers, a twenty-seven-year-old student (now a French politician), decided to create an original show named "Cinéscénie".

When he discovered on the 13th of June 1977 the ruins of an old renaissance castle in the village of Les Epesses near Cholet, he wrote a scenario about a local family named Maupillier (the real name of a soldier of Vendée at the time of the conflict between Vendée and the French Republic during the French Revolution), spanning from the fourteenth century until World War II.

Phillippe de Villiers organised an association of 600 members (3650 today) named "l'Association du Puy du Fou" which has as president today Phillippe de Villiers' son, Nicolas de Villiers.

When the first representation of the Cinéscénie began in June 1978, the show didn't have great success, but that quickly changed by the end of the first season, and with that success the show grew into a huge spectacular. It has since spawned its own micro-industry of actors, prop-makers and trainers for the featured horse riding and sword fighting, which, since 1998, has been due to the efforts of the "Académies Junior" who organized shows every year outside the Cinéscénie, such as the Paris Paname in the "Halle Renaissance" of the Grand Park, in March 2008.

The Grand Park of the Puy du Fou was opened near the Cinéscénie in 1989 and is today one of the most popular theme parks in France.

In 2011, the Grand Parc of Puy du Fou hosted the team presentations prior to the Tour de France, which was set to begin in the Vendée.[3]

Attractions[edit]

The park is split into 6 main shows, each running for approximately 30 – 40 minutes:

The Secret of the Lance is set in front of the battlements of a Middle Age Castle. It relates the story of a young shepherdess who must defend alone her donjon from the English knights, helped by a lance with supernatural powers.

The Vikings

The Vikings 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. '

Triumph's Sign is set in a replica of an amphitheatre that is 115 meters long and 75 meters wide. It recreates the Gaul atmosphere during Roman times. It features a traditional parade of people and animals, gladiatorial combat, chariot racing and executions. It is set during the time of Diocletian, when there was great unrest.

The Phantom Birds Dance is a show set to a mysterious story. Dozens of birds of prey surge from the ruins and swoop low over the heads of the visitors. The falcons are placed on the heads of some visitors wearing hats by the falconers. Many of the larger birds are released from a balloon floating far overhead. This ends with around two hundred birds flying at once around the audience.

Richelieu's Musketeer features musketeers performing swash-buckling sword fighting and Gypsy girls Flamenco dancing in water. Horses also perform special trotting/ jumping techniques. Performed in complete darkness, this is the only show that is staged indoors.

New for 2016, Le Dernier Panache which follows the destiny of a French naval officer, a hero from the American War of Independence, whose life will change dramatically in 1793, in a last fight for freedom!

During April, July and August after sunset the Grand Parc presents Les Orgues de Feu (except on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer season). This show takes place completely on the water and depicts a love story between two musicians.

The above spectacles are presented in French, but electronic translators are available. Other smaller spectacles are available only in French:

  • Les Musiciens Traditionels (musical show)
  • L'Odyssée du Puy du Fou (attraction (inside) ending with a spectacular water show)
  • Les Automates Musiciens du Bourg 1900 (musical show)
  • Les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde (Short Spectacle including illusions) - Replacing Le Magicie Ménestrel from 2013
  • La Renaissance du Château
  • Les Amoureux de Verdun Winter 1916 trench walk-through based on lovers letters (2016 Best Original Creation)

The Cinéscénie[edit]

The main show takes place in the evening on a huge outdoor stage behind the ruined castle. It tells the story of the 700 years of history in the area. The Cinéscénie boasts the largest stage in the world, 1 200 actors, hundreds of horses and about 800 fireworks per performance.[2] All of the dialog is in French, but translation headsets are available in 5 different languages. All of the actors and actresses (even the children) come from the local villages and are volunteers. The Cinéscénie is only performed during peak season. It is bookable separately and has a separate entrance.

Awards[edit]

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