Puy du Fou

Roman Soldier at Puy du FouA long time ago just outside the town of Les Epesses, there was a keep or donjon built on a mound known as the Puy du Fou which in the local patois dialect means Beech Hill. At some time during the Hundred Years War the keep was knocked down by the English but around 300 years later a granite and brick Renaissance chateau was built beside a nearby lake. This in turn was ruined during the Wars of the Vendée and it was not until entrepreneur Philippe de Villiers (who was born in the Vendée) discovered the ruins in 1977 and used them as the backdrop for a performance featuring 600 volunteer actors that the first performance was to take place on the site.

The Puy du Fou is about as good as entertainment can get! Having been there, we can vouch for it being an incredibly well organised, historical and educational theme park, believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. Without doubt it is the Vendée’s number 1 attraction with many set piece shows on offer in the daytime and in the evening an equally impressive show titled Cinéscénie.

Puy du Fou KnightsIn our opinion, the Puy du Fou offers the most impressive and spectacular events you are likely to see anywhere. On our particular visit there was an event about Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War:  ‘Le secret de la Lance‘ which was an amazing medieval piece. There was also a Viking event featuring an attack on water called  ‘Le Drakkar‘. The most epic event was ‘Les Gladiateurs‘, a Ben Hur style Roman chariot racing show set in an incredibly realistic Gallo Roman Coliseum which also managed to squeeze in the feeding of a few Christians to the lions! (See our Gladiator photo gallery at bottom of page)

Also worthy of note particularly for bird lovers is what you might describe as a falconry display on steroids with up to 150 birds of prey in the air for the finale!: ‘Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes‘ (For obvious reasons if you can get a seat for the latter with your back to the sun it is a clear advantage).

Puy du Fou - Secret de La LancePuy du Fou – Visitor Tips

One point to stress here is that for most of the shows and particularly for the Roman gladiator show, it is crucially important to be at the gates at least 30 min before the start of the show. Another point worth mentioning is that most of the shows are in the open air with very little shelter so it’s quite important to bring hats and protective clothing. When we visited the park we sat through at least an hour of the Roman spectacle in the Coliseum under fairly consistent drizzling rain and wished we had brought an umbrella! The rain, however, did nothing to suppress the enjoyment of this magnificent journey back in time!

Statue Fountain at Puy du FouEven in between the shows, you don’t need to have a dull moment as there are many other fascinating displays on offer. There are also immaculately kept gardens and a reconstructed medieval township along with numerous characters in costume as well as wandering chickens and pigs to heighten the sense of reality.

One of the stranger scenes to view was this statue in a fountain (photo left) which  was a bit too real for comfort!

A large indoor theatre played host to a swashbuckling 17th-century spectacular: ‘Mousequetaires de Richlieu‘, a show based loosely on the story of the 3 Musketeers and held inside an enormous auditorium (making use incidentally of the world’s largest curtain 70m long).

The show was quite captivating andCafe at Puy du Fou featured horses dancing on a lake, ladies dancing through fountains and as you would expect the 3 Musketeers plus so very much more. You couldn’t fail to be impressed by the incredibly skilful equestrian displays.

In addition, there is a very attractive Belle Epoque style village with musical automata, cafe and souvenir shop. There are places on the site where you can find decent food and drinks and you are not supposed or expected to bring picnics into the park although if you really want to, you can leave the site for your picnic and then return and be readmitted to the park.

For those to whom it is relevant, the site does offer special rates for disabled visitors. To enquire about these rates call +33 (0) 820 09 10 10. For more information click here to visit the official Puy du Fou website.

Puy du Fou Roman Gladiators Photo Gallery