Puy du Fou
Le Secret de la Lance
|Slogan||"L'Histoire n'attend que vous" (History is waiting for you)|
|Location||Les Epesses, Vendée, France|
|Owner||Association du Puy du Fou|
Grand Parc: 1989
|Operating season||From April to September|
23 hectares (57 acres)
55 hectares (140 acres)
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.
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".
On 13 June 1977 he discovered 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 organized 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.
On 13 August 2018, the Grand Parc launched a program where specially trained rooks fly around the park to pick up cigarette butts and other small pieces of litter. Christophe Gaborit, the park's Head of Falconry, originally trained the birds to participate in the park's falconry show, but later was inspired to teach them how to pick up rubbish left by the park's visitors. By using a specially-created box, which was inspired by a magician's prop, he taught six of his birds—Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, Bricole, and Baco—to deliver bits of trash to the box and exchange them for food. The goal of the project is to both teach the park's visitors about the birds and to discourage littering.
The park is split into 26 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 castle's tower against English knights, helped by a lance with supernatural powers.
- 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 under water.
- 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 provided 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 above the audience.
- Richelieu's Musketeers features musketeers performing swash-buckling sword fighting and Gypsy girls Flamenco dancing in water. Horses also perform special trotting/jumping techniques.
- Le Dernier Panache which follows the destiny of a French naval officer, a hero of the American War of Independence, whose life will change dramatically in 1793, in a last fight for freedom.(Thea award for outstanding achievement 2017)
- Les Orgues de Feu (except on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer season : cinescénie). During the night, 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 Chevaliers de la Table Ronde
- Les Amoureux de Verdun Winter 1916 trench walk-through based on lovers' letters (Thea award for outstanding achievement 2016)
- Le Mystère de La Pérouse (European top new attraction 2018)
- Le Premier Royaume(Live entertainement of the year 2019)
- La Renaissance du Château
- Les Automates Musiciens du Bourg 1900 (musical show)
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. All of the dialogs 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.
- La Villa Gallo-Romaine (hotel theme: Ancient Rome)
- Les Îles de Clovis (hotel theme: Merovingian dynasty)
- La Citadelle (hotel theme: Middle Ages)
- Le Camp du Drap D'Or (hotel theme: Renaissance)
- Le Logis de Lescure (hotel theme: 18th century)
- 13 August 2011, Puy du Fou won the silver Jupiter at the "Internationale des Feux Loto Quebec", the greatest international competition of pyrotechnic at Montréal.
- 17 March 2012, Puy du Fou received the « Thea Classic Award 2012 », for "outstanding, breakthrough visitor attractions that have stood the test of time" at Los Angeles.
- 2013: it was titled "best European theme park" by the Parksmania Awards in Italy.
- 2014: it received the Applause Award from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
- 2017 : it received the "Hall of Fame Award" at Orlando in Florida during the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo
- 20minutes Vendée: Nouveau record de fréquentation pour le Puy du Fou, 08.23.2016
- Weekend Breaks: the Vendée's Puy du Fou - Expatica
- "Tour de France 2011". Archived from the original on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- "'Intelligent' crows to pick up litter at French theme park". Agence France-Presse. 10 August 2018. ISSN 0981-2717. OCLC 25838596. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Guimbretiere, Pablo (10 August 2018). "Au Puy du Fou, des corbeaux pour ramasser les mégots" [At Puy du Fou, rooks to pick up cigarette butts]. Ouest-France (in French). ISSN 0999-2138. OCLC 183425556. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Une escouade de corbeaux pour éduquer le public du Grand Parc" [A squad of rooks to educate the public of the Grand Parc]. Puy du Fou, Le Blog (in French). 8 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Domonoske, Camila (13 August 2018). "French Theme Park Asks: Crows Can Pick Up Trash, Why Can't You?". National Public Radio. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2012-05-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Le Jupiter d'Argent est au Puy du Fou
- "TEA Connect blog". theme entertainment association. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Parksmania Awards 2013
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