I swear I started each show thinking – “Oh this is just a bit of jousting/dancing/acrobatics.” and ended them all with my jaw on the floor at the enormity of what I’d just seen.
I’ve struggled to put Puy du Fou into words. From the moment we sat down at our first show – Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes – I was wide-eyed in awe at the size and imagination of the spectacles this parc presents. The emotion each attraction inspires is extraordinary. I swear I started each show thinking – “Oh this is just a bit of jousting/dancing/acrobatics.” and ended them all with my jaw on the floor at the enormity of what I’d just seen. I was in tears many times, overwhelmed by just how stunning, clever, perfect it all was. It is quite honestly the best theme park experience I’ve ever had; and it’s easy to see why Puy du Fou has been rated as Europe’s number 1 attraction (3rd in the world) in 2018 by TripAdvisor.
I’ve been asked many times whilst I was at the parc, and since my return: “Is Puy du Fou good for teenagers?” and my firm answer is yes, absolutely. In fact, since visiting as part of a press trip, I’ve now added Puy du Fou to my travel plans for next year with my 12 and 15 year olds. I know they’re going to love it. So here’s what I think are the best attractions at Puy du Fou for families with teenagers:
8 Best Shows for Teenagers at Puy du Fou
*The law requires me to declare third party partnerships at the top of any articles written in collaboration with a brand. Puy du Fou paid for my travel, 2 nights accommodation, and my food, as part of a press trip visit. However, I was not required to write about the parc, I did not receive payment for this post, and all opinion and words are my own.
As I walked into this room full of broken statues (above) I honestly held my breath
Le Premier Royaume
Brand new for 2019, Le Premier Royaume is an immersive walk-through experience cataloguing the fate of Clovis, King of the Franks, in the 5th century. You’ll walk through mesmerising fire and water effects, following the King’s angst through the words of actors in the various rooms. As I walked into this room full of broken statues (above) I honestly held my breath – if you’ve ever played Tomb Raider, it feels just like one of Lara Croft’s underwater scenes. It’s a pivotal period of French history that the locals are familiar with, but as an outsider you’ll still be transfixed by the atmosphere, and the special effects; in fact, you’ll probably turn straight to Google as you exit, keen to learn more.
Le Signe du Triomphe
You can’t beat Le Signe du Triomphe for immediate wow factor, and if it’s the first thing they see at Puy du Fou, older children are going to be sold on the whole parc immediately. First, the sheer size of the arena has you automatically convinced you’re going to experience exactly what Caesar had in mind for entertainment. Show me a teenager who doesn’t want full-on thrills with a bit danger! What I loved most about this action-packed show was the warm-up routine. Jeers and catcalls on either side get the crowd going, ready for the hero prisoner to come in and win the day.
Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes
This was the first show we saw, and it set my mood for the entire trip. Even the heavens opening as the first actor emerged from smoke didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it – in fact, the weather simply served to enhance the drama of the story unfolding. You see, this isn’t just a bird demonstration. It’s a full-on theatrical experience, with giant eagles, comical secretary birds, and even some incredibly well-behaved geese at the centre of the narrative. The sound quality is amazing, and the music creates tension and emotion as you watch transfixed. I could never have imagined getting goosebumps during a bird show. But then it’s not simply a bird show. Expect big surprises that even a teenager can’t fail to be impressed by!
Le Secret de la Lance
I think this was probably my favourite show (excluding La Cinéscénie – scroll down for that one!) This was the production that surprised me the most. Set in the Hundred Years’ War, it begins with a young girl playing a flute, and ends with full-scale pyrotechnics and a happy resolution – as all the best shows do. However, there are so many “I can’t believe it” moments that you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time. You may need to give a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning, because teenagers will be seriously impressed by the stunts of the horse-riders, and the speed at which they go is simply thrilling. As if that wasn’t enough, the castle wall just disappears in front of your eyes, only to reappear after the drama, in a completely different guise. I can’t really explain it – you just have to see it for yourself.
Inside the sailing ship set of Le Dernier Panache
Le Dernier Panache
From the first moment, this is a show that stuns. The huge scale of Le Théâtre des Géants (The Theatre of Giants) lets you know instantly that you’re in for something special. As the curtain opens onto this interior of a sailing ship as it prepares for voyage, you’ll start to be seriously impressed by the set designers on the parc. And it doesn’t stop there. The audience – not the stage, the audience – revolves through the different stage sets as the story unfolds of a tragic French naval officer and hero of the American War of Independence. Any budding theatrical teenager will want to know how on earth the team at Puy du Fou get the sea to lap at the edge of the stage too!
Water laps like the sea on set
Le Mystère de La Perouse
Sticking with boats, teenagers will absolutely love Le Mystère de La Perouse. As you walk through the ill-fated ship which never returned home, you hear from sailors and ship commanders of their great exploration plans. You see the well-stocked kitchens, and as you set sail into rougher seas you will firmly believe that the ship is rocking on the water. Travelling onwards to the seas of Alaska, the temperature drops as you pass icebergs outside the windows. But disaster looms, and the ship starts to take on water. With stunning sound and water effects at the end, this is definitely an immersive experience that’s better for older kids.
Les Amoureux de Verdun
Imagine yourself in a first World War trench. You experience life as it would have been for the soldiers, through the letters of a young couple throughout the battles. For older children who have studied some of this time period at school, this brings what they know to life, with actors playing out the scenes we know so well, including the Christmas truce of 1916. We saw a few younger children upset at the end of this one, so again, it’s best for older children and teenagers.
I literally couldn’t speak for fear of the emotion it would unleash, and I was close to tears many times.
If you’re visiting Puy du Fou with teenagers, La Cinéscénie is a complete must-do. It starts late, at 10.30pm, and with some loud special effects and lots of pyrotechnics, it’s probably not ideal for younger children. You’ll also need to be there at the weekend, as the show only runs on Friday and Saturday nights. This is because the entire production is presented by local volunteers – 4,000 of them, to be exact, and over 2,000 of those on stage. Which tells you how big the ‘stage’ is. Hear the word ‘volunteer’ and you immediately think amateur, but it’s clear from the moment the music strikes up that this is anything but.
As with all the shows at Puy du Fou, the effects are incredible, the sound stunning, and the “how on earth did they do that?” moments abundant. I’m not usually a taciturn kind of person, as many of you know, but I can honestly tell you that I was dumbstruck by the end. I literally couldn’t speak for fear of the emotion it would unleash, and I was close to tears many times. I’m actually struggling now, as I type, to describe just how magnificent La Cinéscénie really is, so I’m not even going to try. Just go and see it if you possibly can. It will be the best thing you do all year.
Where to eat at Puy du Fou
The parc has numerous snack bars with outdoor seating. You’ll find paninis, burgers, garlic bread, waffles and crêpes, all at a reasonable price. There are also plenty of picnic areas, should you prefer to bring your own food. As well as fast-food options, a real treat is to book one of the parc’s diverse restaurant experiences (if you book in advance, you get a good deal on the menu of the day). We ate at 5 of the restaurants, both inside the parc, and at two of the hotels in the Cité Nocturne, where we were staying. Here’s what I thought:
Le Bistrot, Bourg 1900
Le Bistrot is a Belle Epoque style restaurant serving typical French cuisine. Our party ordered this incredible salade, with cured ham, terrine and goats cheese croutons, as well as one of the best Croque Monsieurs I’ve ever seen. We washed it all down with a carafe of vin rosé, before contemplating one of the wonderful ice-cream sundaes. Le Bistrot is also the best place for afternoon tea, or a proper hot chocolate on the terrace as you watch the children of Puy du Fou’s own academy perform Le Ballet des Sapeurs.
There’s a menu of the day for €21 if booked ahead, with a children’s menu priced at €10.90.
Café de la Madelon
You should definitely take your teens to dinner at Café de la Madelon. It’s a set menu, but it’s not challenging, with a salmon terrine, roast chicken, and profiteroles on the evening of our visit. You’ll quickly realise you’re actually at a show, taking your place as one of the guests at a calamity-strewn wedding. I won’t spoil the surprises by detailing what happens, but once they stop rolling their eyes, teenagers will end up laughing just as hard as the adults at the antics of their waiters.
Dinner and the show costs €26.90 if booked in advance, children aged 13 and under pay €11.90.
Lunch at La Mijoterie du Roy Henry is just a little bit different! It’s self-serve, but you’ll choose three courses, each in their own individual pots. First is a salad (meat, pasta and vegetarian options are available); then you’ll select a hot-pot dish containing fish or meat, with vegetables – we had the choice of duck confit, cod, and braised beef, which were all delicious; finally select a little glass pot for dessert – there was a cheese option too, but I went for an incredibly rich (and delicious) chocolate mousse. No one does chocolate mousse like the French!
Lunch costs €15.50 if booked in advance, and there’s a children’s selection priced at €8.90.
We ate at two. L’Écuyer Tranchant is located in La Citadelle hotel, and serves a glorious buffet, including some of the best cheese and bread I’ve ever had. I ate a salmon en-croute where the croute was actually a loaf of bread, rather than pastry, and a huge choice of terrines and pâté. There were plenty of dessert options, but I was never going to pass up a big spoonful of crême brulée. When in France!
Booked ahead, the adult menu is €23.50, kids eat for €11.50.
Le Banquet de Mérovée is situated in the Ile de Clovis hotel, where we stayed. Again, this is a self-service buffet, with unlimited returns, and some delicious-looking tarts for dessert.
Prices are €21 for adults, €11.50 children, when booked ahead.
It makes sense to book in advance for all the parc’s restaurants. Aside from the cost benefit, they do get busy, and I saw plenty of people being turned away who hadn’t booked.
Where to stay at Puy du Fou
It’s worth considering staying at one of the five Puy du Fou hotels, especially if you’re going to La Cinéscenie, which doesn’t finish until after midnight. We stayed at Les Iles de Clovis, a Middle-Age replica village of thatched huts on stilts over the water. Each hut can sleep up to five, in a kingsize bed, large bunks, and a single sofa bed, so they’re perfect for families. You can read more detail about the hotel in this linked review.
Or you might decide to opt for a couple of nights in Medieval-style tents, glamping at Le Camp du Drap d’Or. Click the link to see more from my friend Sarah, who stayed in this magnificent accommodation on her recent trip.
For families needing even more space, Le Logis de Lescure offer a small number of suites that can accommodate up to six. Other hotels include the castle at La Citadelle (see more detail on this hotel in this review by Northeast Family Fun and La Villa Gallo-Romaine. There’s a good summary of all the hotels in this article Where to stay at Puy du Fou.
Alternatively, Puy du Fou has deals with a number of partner hotels off the parc, or you can even book a spot for your campervan or caravan on the outskirts of the parc property. Take a look at the Puy du Fou website for all the options and current prices.
Essential tips for visiting Puy du Fou
- Carry tissues. You will get emotional.
- Buy a Puy du Fou poncho. At €5 each, these are total life savers. Much of your time is spent outdoors, and you won’t want to leave a show once it’s begun. They’re sturdy, and they’re made to last – they’ll see you through many a log flume ride once you’ve returned home.
- Pay for Emotion Passes. At €15 per head per day, they are well worth it in order to beat the queues and guarantee entry to the big shows when it suits you. It also gives you a prime viewing spot.
- Wear comfortable clothing, and walking shoes. You will cover a lot of ground walking between the attractions, and you could well be out late.
- Download the Puy du Fou app before you go, and take headphones in your bag. For the bigger shows with narrative, there’s a translation to English, Spanish, German and Dutch. It runs in time with the show, so you’ll be up to date with all the action. Personally, I preferred the total immersion of the French language and the music, but if you’re someone who really needs to understand the story to get the most from it, then this is a must-have.
- Log onto the parc’s wifi – it’s pretty good in most places, and completely free.
- There is a bag security check and metal detector arch at the gate so bear that in mind when deciding what to take into the parc with you. Food and drink is allowed.
- You can bring your own picnic if you want to save money on lunch, but the parc sells snacks and sandwiches at good prices, and even the restaurants are reasonably priced.
- Don’t worry about cash. All the shops, restaurants and takeaway spots accept card payments.
*Prices are for 2019. Check the Puy du Fou website for current pricing.
What if I have younger kids?
If reading this has whet your appetite for a visit to Puy du Fou, but you don’t have teenagers, don’t worry. There is plenty to do that will have younger children on the edge of their seats too. Take a look at these posts from fellow bloggers to find out more about what works for younger children, and for more stats on Puy du Fou:
- A Spellbinding Weekend at Grand Parc Puy du Fou | My Travel Monkey
- All the tips you need if you’re planning a visit to Puy du Fou | Mummy Travels
- Why you should visit Puy du Fou with kids | Flying With a Baby
- Puy du Fou’s best shows for families | Tin Box Traveller
Where else is good in France for Families?
France is worth exploring, whatever the age of your children. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the French coast is the only place that’s appropriate. In fact, Paris is fantastic to explore with young children, and can be less expensive than you’d imagine. Even Versailles can be entertaining for kids if you know how to tackle it. And if you’re driving in France here’s a fab checklist to make your journey go smoothly.
Where else would you recommend in France with children?
Puy du Fou offers a 2-night B&B family stay (4 sharing) at one of the five themed on-site hotels from €590, including 2 days’ entry to the Park. Day passes only start at €36/€26 (adult/child); Emotion fast track passes €15pp per day. Open now (June 2019) until 3 November 2019. Further information from Puy du Fou, www.puydufou.com/en, +33 (0) 820 09 1010).
La Cinéscénie: €28 (adult/child)
Emotion pass: €15 per day (adult/child)
* All prices apply to services booked in advance.