Puy Du Fou, the most unique theme park in the world!

Fireworks, explosions and ships rising from lakes are all in day’s work at the Puy Du Fou theme park.

Located in Les Epesses, about an hour south-east of Nantes, Puy Du Fou (pronounced Pwee du Foo) is the second-most visited theme park in France and a household name. Outside of the country, however, it’s still relatively unknonw.

It calls itself a theme park but there’s not a single rollercoaster or ride to be seen. Instead, the park stages lavish shows based on moments in European history. If this all sounds a little odd, it’s because it is. But it is also absolutely brilliant.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Puy Du Fou for the purpose of this review. For more information, please see my disclosure policy

 

Best shows Puy du fou
Les Vikings – Photo Credit Puy Du Fou

 

Set over 55 hectares of forest Puy Du Fou started in 1978 with an amateur reenactment of the history of the Vendée, the region where the park is located in Western France. This show went on to become what is today La Cinéscénie, the biggest nighttime show in the world. This show performs to an audience of 14,000 people in high season. It’s unbelievably popular and tickets sell out almost as soon as they go on sale.

I spent a long weekend exploring Puy Du Fou on a BritMums press trip and I loved it. I don’t tend to visit a lot of theme parks but Puy Du Fou was so quirky, so innovative and so wonderfully unique that I am already planning a return trip with the kids.

If you’re looking for other places to visit in France for families then do take a look at this post. This post has more suggestions on fun theme parks in Europe to visit with kids.

 

The Shows at Puy Du Fou

Puy du fou theme park
Le Secret de la Lance – Photo Credit Puy Du Fou

 

It took me a while to work out what exactly le Puy Du Fou is.

It’s not a theme park in the traditional sense, rather it’s a combination of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, Vegas’ theatrics and West End plays.

The park stages 19 spectacular shows, including seven blockbusters, each lasting between 26 and 40 minutes (the perfect length of time to ensure kids’ attentions don’t wander!). The performances are staged up to seven times a day, welcoming some 2,400 to 6,000 visitors per performance! Most of the shows take place in outdoor theatres (and go ahead rain or shine), some are indoors and there are four immersive experiences. La Cinéscénie lasts 1hr30 and is only performed on Friday and Saturday nights during peak season.

The shows are, quite simply, incredible. They’re innovative, exciting and full of special effects that will have you wondering “how the hell did they do that?!”.

Not surprisingly, the shows and adventures at Puy Du Fou have won numerous awards. I mean, if you can make an illuminated grand piano rise from a lake, at nighttime, with a pianist playing, you deserve some kind of recognition!

 

Puy du fou theme park
Le Signe du Triomphe Photo Credit: Puy du Fou

 

We saw 13 of the shows during our weekend at Puy Du Fou and some of my favourites included:

  • Les Vikings, a dramatic and humorous retelling of an ancient legend
  • Les Amoureux De Verdun, a love story from WWI
  • Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantomes, a one-of-a-kind bird show that saw some 330 birds take to the sky for the finale
  • Le Mystere de la Perouse, an incredible immersive journey on a sailing ship
  • Three Musketeers, an adorable musical by the kids from the Puy Du Fou academy
  • Le Secret de la Lance, an epic medieval adventure with fire, explosions and jaw-dropping stunts on horseback.

 

Puy du fou theme park
Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantomes – Photo Credit Puy Du Fou

 

The other great thing about the shows are that many of them encourage audience participation.

When you enter the stadium for Le Signe du Triomphe, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in the colosseum in ancient Rome – and many of the people in the audience believed this too, cheering and booing on command!

For non-French speakers there are translation headsets, or you can plug into the Puy Du Fou app and listen to the story in the language of your choice. The sound quality is actually better on the app than on the headsets.

In truth, however, the storylines are a little tenuous in places so even if you don’t understand everything that’s going on, it won’t detract from the experience at all.

 

The Villages at Puy Du Fou

Puy du fou theme park
The Medieval village at Puy du Fou

 

In addition to the wealth of shows there are four villages within the park. These have been designed and created by craftsmen using traditional techniques so that they are as close to the original as possible.

La Cité Médiévale is an authentic reproduction of a Medieval village, complete with craftsmen at work and a vegetable garden used by the park’s restaurants. In Le Fort d l’An Mil (the Viking village), you can watch a blacksmith and his apprentice at work.

 

Puy Du Fou Families - France with kids
Le Bourg

 

Le Bourg 1900 was my favourite, a replica of a French town at the turn of the century complete with a carousel, Art Nouveau architecture and my favourite restaurant in the park, Le Bistrot.

There’s also Le Village XVIII, a French village from the 18th century. The villages are also where the park’s souvenir shops are located. Instead of finding plastic tat, however, you can buy local artisan work from bracelets and earrings to pocket knifes and brightly coloured pixie boots.

Puy Du Fou deliberately keep all the shops within the park’s four villages, and not outside the shows themselves, so there’s no pressure to buy something.

 

Where to eat at Puy Du Fou

Puy du fou theme park
Dining options at Puy du Fou are excellent

 

There are 27 places to eat in Puy Du Fou ranging from fast food kiosks to a la carte restaurants.

We tried a number of the restaurants during our stay and two things really stood out; the first is that the food is really very good. We didn’t try the fast food outlets but the meals in the restaurants were excellent. There were no hamburgers or pizza or hotdogs, rather we ate freshly made, flavoursome dishes created using local produce.

The second thing I noticed is that eating out at Puy Du Fou is really reasonable. Even better, if you reserve your restaurant in advance (which is highly recommended for peak season) then you get a discount per person.

My favourite restaurant was Le Bistrot, in Le Bourg village where we had lunch and Le Café de la Madelon, a Belle-Époque restaurant where you dine while watching – and sometimes taking part in – a brilliant cabaret performance.

 

Puy du Fou Hotels

Puy Du Fou Families - France with kids
Les Îles de Clovis

 

Puy Du Fou offers five themed hotels within La Cité Nocturne, its on site hotel complex. Each hotel is dedicated to a period of history, from Ancient Rome to the 18th century.

Just as I’m not traditionally a fan of theme parks, I’m not usually big on themed accommodation either. However, the hotels at Puy Du Fou are really well done.

I was transported back to the Middle Ages with my stay at Les Îles de Clovis, a village of 50 thatched huts built on stilts over water. My room was very comfortable with a big double bed, a good-sized bathroom with a great shower and fantastic bunk beds with curtains that I know my kids will love. I also had my own little terrace overlooking the carp-filled lake.

Others in our group also had a couple of nights at Le Camp du Drap d’Or, royal tents that came with four-poster beds, embroidered tapestries and a throne for the toilet!

Much like everywhere in the park, Puy Du Fou strives for authenticity and they really do get it right. There are hotels in the surrounding area but I would definitely recommend staying on site when you visit Puy Du Fou, it’s just so much more convenient and the accommodation if very family-friendly.

 

Plan your visit to Puy Du Fou

Puy du fou theme park
The original Puy Du Fou Chateau

 

  • To get the most out of Puy du Fou I recommend that you spend two or three days in the park. We spent two full days at Puy du Fou and they were long days but we managed to see a lot.
  • I would highly recommend downloading the Puy Du Fou App; it’s very easy to use and really helpful for planning what you want to see. It can also be used as an audio guide (bring your own headphones).
  • It is really worth spending the extra €15 per person to get the ‘Pass Emotion’. Acting like a fast pass, this ticket allows you to enter the shows through a separate line and sit in the best seats.
  • Puy du Fou is open until November 1, 2020. It typically reopens in April. Make sure to check the calendar as the park will also be closed for several weeks in September and October 2020.
  • La Cinescenie takes place Friday and Saturday evenings until Saturday September 19, 2020.
  • Note that from June to September you can’t book a Friday and Saturday night in an on-site hotel (this is to allow for the popularity of both the park and La Cinescenie). If coming for a weekend, I would recommend arriving on the Saturday morning and leaving on the Monday afternoon.
  • Puy Du Fou is very accessible for people with disabilities or mobility issues and there are special seating areas in every show for those visitors who need assistance.

 

Puy Du Fou – How much does it cost? 

Unlike many theme parks, Puy Du Fou’s pricing is very reasonable. The following will give you an idea of Puy du Fou ticket prices.

Park entrance only

  • Park entrance only if bought in advance – €37/adult for 1 day (all the shows and activities, included the night show “Les Orgues de Feu”) and €27/child for 1 day. There is a discounted rate for under 4s.
  • If you buy tickets on the day then the tickets are €43/adult and €32/child.
  • Two day tickets are €61/adult and €45/child if purchased in advance
  • Tickets to La La Cinéscénie from €28pp (book your tickets well in advance).
  • Book your tickets online for the best deals at Puy du Fou – you’ll save up to 20%
  • It’s worth paying extra for the ‘Pass Emotion’ – the park’s Fast Pass system.

 

Getting to Puy Du Fou

Puy Du Fou is located in Les Epesses, in the Vendée region of Western France. The closest airport is at Nantes, roughly one hour away.

Your easiest option is to fly into Nantes and then hire a car. There is parking available at Puy Du Fou. If you want to have a longer holiday then you can combine a trip to Puy Du Fou with some time in nearby Brittany. Take a look at this post from Mini Travellers for some ideas on where to go.

 

You may also enjoy the following posts:

Staying at Les îles de Clovis, Puy Du Fou – Are We Nearly There Yet?

Puy Du Fou: The best ‘theme park’ you’ve never heard of – Jenography

Puy Du Fou, The world’s best theme park – Mari’s World

Staying at Les îles de Clovis, Puy Du Fou – Pod Travels

Staying at Le Camp Du Drap D’Or at Puy Du Fou – Extraordinary Chaos

Hotels at Puy Du Fou – Juggle Mum

33 thoughts on “Puy Du Fou, the most unique theme park in the world!”

  1. This is a great review Katja! Really includes loads of information that visitors would need. I adored the park myself – it was absolutely bonkers but in the nicest possible way!! Must be seen to be believed!

  2. The one place that I have been to that just kept on surprising me. I think if I returned tomorrow I would find many more wow factors too. Very creative and exceptional production has gone into the planning and construction of this park.

  3. What an excellent way to describe Puy du Fou Katja and it’s certainly unique. I’ve never experienced anything like it, truly remarkable. I honestly could have stayed there a week and watched the shows we saw over and over, just incredible. Itching to go back with the family already. Great review, provides a good rounded perspective on what to expect.

  4. travelingchristie

    This is fab Katja and I totally agree staying on site is the way forward I loved the magic of the hotels, and the shows blew my mind you can not fail to be impressed by Puy Du Fou x

  5. There was not one bit of Puy Du Fou that I didn’t like. I loved the villages for shopping and all their handmade goodies and the shows – how do you pick a favourite. I keep changing my mind

  6. How interesting! I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France, but have never heard of Puy de Fou, and I would absolutely enjoy this, based on your descriptions. This is such a thorough review! It gives me everything I need to make a decision to go, and to know how long I’d probably want to stay. Also, I particularly love your photo of La Signe de Triomphe — are those horses hitched to chariots?

  7. We had not heard about Puy Du Fou until we read this post. The theme park sounds very intriguing and interesting for the shows it hosts based on the European history. We have never seen live adventures with fire and explosions and people performing stunts on horseback. We would love to check this out on our visit to Les Epesses.

  8. Never heard of Puy du Fou, indeed. I’ll definitely recommend the theme park to my sister in Holland who would love the shops and whose daughter and son would love the craftsmen villages and some of the more colorful shows. I’d be concerned they don’t speak French, is that an issue?

    1. Hi Peter, there are audio guides so you can listen to the shows in English (or whichever language you choose) so it really doesn’t matter if you don’t speak French. But even if you don’t use the audio guide, you’ll still enjoy the shows as there is so much going on.

  9. This is certainly more unique than your average set of rollercoasters! And with three days worth of activities, it’s great value for money. I’d be in heaven with the 27 options for where to eat, for sure!

  10. Wow, the shows do look quite incredible, almost like a scene recreated from the olden ages! Puy du fou seems like a really cool place to spend the weekend at, visit the villages and watch the theatrics and acrobatics. I have never been to a place where they have shows of this magnitude. I know what you mean by that it is not a theme park in the traditional sense, but this seems even more exciting!

  11. This is in France? Love that it’s all shows – combo of Cirque and West End plays – I am all in and bookmarking this!

  12. What a fun place that I’ve never heard of!! I would love to visit! It’s great that headsets are provided to translate the shows. I’m really curious to see the interior of the royal tents… and possibly stay there. 🙂 I’ll definitely have to save this for later. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I love to know and read about unique places and Puy Du Fou fits the bill. It has so much around history and that makes it number two in France. Would love to attend night time show on History of the Vendee. Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantomes, the bird show must be thrilling. I have to be there with my kid.

  14. We have just returned from our holiday and we spent one day at Puy du Fou where we managed to fit in 5 of the big shows. My children (5&8 yrs old) loved it and are still talking about it a week later. We will surely return over a few days next time as we hadn’t heard of it and didn’t know how good it was!
    The only draw back for us was the food, my husband and one daughter are diagnosed with Coeliac disease and finding gluten free options proved impossible which was a big down side for us sadly.

    1. Hi Lucy, I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed Puy Du Fou so much! Which were your favourite shows? I’m sorry to hear about the lack of gluten-free options, however, hopefully this is something the park will take on board in the future.

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