June 25, 2010

Puy du Fou - June 25

We are at a loss to know how we could possibly describe or convey to you the magic that is Puy du Fou. It's Disney meets Grand Theatre meets Opera meets Le Cadre Noir. It's a universe all its own!

It is a Theme Park, but everything is live, actors and animals. The sets are bigger than life. Castles move, galleon ships sink, horses prance, birds of prey take flight. We spent most of the day with dropped jaws and eyes wide open. We can honestly say that we've never in our lives seen anything like this.

There were 5 main shows and we got to see them all. The first one was "The Vikings". Set in a peaceful village in Normandy, we are invited to attend a joyful wedding.

Everything is festive and we see village life unfold around us - deer, wild boar, and beasts of burden. A wolf man appears leading five wolves. After foretelling the couple's fate, he presents them with a wolf as a wedding gift.

Appearing like a sudden dark storm, an invasion of vikings abruptly changes the village into a war zone.

Villagers must rescue their animals and hide their treasure before it is too late!

But alas...


The next show was "The Secret of the Lance".

Joan of Arc leaves to fight the war against the English and asks Marguerite (we're not making this up - that really was her name) to protect the castle until her return. She entrusts her magic lance to the young woman.

There are jousting and horsemanship games, until the enemy arrives... A parade of knights hints at the ordeal to come. Catapults, cannons and jets of flame transform the scene into mayhem and carnage.

But Marguerite saves the day!

...and the castle.


The next show is set in Roman Gaul and takes place in a Colliseum.The grand entrance is a parade of the Governor's wealth and status before the Christians are thrown to the lions and gladiators must fight to the death.

Ostriches, camels, a caged tiger and Bacchus drinking wine...

There is a chariot race. The prize? Freedom.

The "white" team is victorious but the Governor will have none of that.

A Senator defies the Governor and questions why Christians must die.

Centurions are called to "remove him".

Three lions come into the arena, but none of them want to eat the Christians.

The Christians are given their freedom!


The next show is called "The Three Muskateers" and by juggling our schedule, we managed to see this one twice. It takes place in a theatre that is about 5 times larger than any theatre we've ever been in. Flash was forbidden and the lighting was poor for photos, but it was theatre and acrobats and dance. Cyrano de Bergerac, Cardinal Richelieu, the Roi et la Reine - they all make an appearance. The horses and the water features steal the show.

[Some videos to be added...]

The grounds of Puy du Fou are enormous. With 1200 actors and 8000 costumes, it covers 23 hectares and has attracted 10 million visitors. We did not get to see Cinéscénie, the acclaimed evening show, not realizing we needed to reserve months in advance. But the Grand Parc itself has so much to offer it's impossible to see it all in a day.

Between the venues for each of the 5 main shows, there are settings for The Lost Worlds, villages from eras long ago: a village from the Year 1000, a medieval town, an XVIII century village, a 1900 burg, etc. Artisan shops and taverns and eateries are everywhere.

Animals that would have been found in some of these villages long ago are in vast enclosures.


The final show we saw was "The Ball of the Phantom Birds".

Falconers live on site and train these birds year-round. There were species we have never seen, not in Africa, not in the Amazon, not even on TV.

Check the neat outfits that the trainers wear.

Any similarity with the eyes?

The breadth of the wings!

Striking black and white colour on this bird.
Press the play button to watch an African Secretary bird kill a snake.

The show ended with an ultra-light coming in with all these birds following it.


Walking through the Roseraie (rose garden) at the end of the day.

If you ever get the chance to come to France, Puy du Fou is a must. Check the website and book their evening show which we've heard is even more spectacular than the day shows. It must be awesome!

www. puydufou.com

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