Puy du Fou has twice won the award for the “Best Theme Park in the World” and is the second most popular theme park in Europe after Disneyland Paris. Have you ever heard of it? I have lived in France for two years, and I must admit I never heard of it until only a few months ago. It piqued my curiosity, so I booked tickets for our family (with kids aged 4 and 8) to discover what it’s all about.
As I witnessed the spectacular shows at Puy du Fou, I was left in complete awe, utterly speechless, and transported back to a childlike state of wonder. Did that really happen? Did that Viking shop just come out of the water? How did they do it?
The theme park, nestled in the woodlands of the Vendée region of western France, is unique – it has no rides! Instead, it’s famous for its historical shows that vividly reenact French history, from the Roman era to the 20th century, using remarkable special effects and touching storylines. It also offers immersive experiences where you get plunged into highly realistic sets such as a ship or underground war trenches.
Compared to the bustling and overwhelming atmosphere of Disneyland, Puy du Fou offers a more serene experience. In October, it was free from the typical commotion, pushy souvenir ships and long lines found in other theme parks. After two full days of immersing ourselves in all it has to offer, our family departed Puy du Fou not just inspired but remarkably less fatigued than our usual Disneyland experience.
In this article, I’ll share essential tips for making your visit to Puy du Fou as fun and stress-free as possible.
Essential tips for your visit to Puy du Fou with kids
1. Buy your tickets in advance
Puy du Fou can get crowded, especially in the summer, so it’s better to pre-book your tickets online, which also comes with a 20% discount if done at least 72 hours ahead. Apart from a 90-minute night show La Cinéscénie, and a kids’ carousel (€2 per ride), all experiences are included in the entry ticket. You can buy a combined ticket, which includes entry to the park and the night show La Cinéscénie. For the 2024 season (30 March – 3 November), the ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: €44 (or €73 with the night show)
- Children (3-12 years old): €31 (or €60 with the night show)
- Children under 3: free
Puy du Fou offers an Emotion Pass that allows you to skip the queue and benefit from the best seats in the stands at the major shows (not all!). It must be reserved at the same time as purchasing your entry ticket and costs an additional €25 per day (for adults and children). We visited Puy du Fou mid-week over the October school holidays in France. Without the Emotion Pass, we had no problem entering any show without queues and finding a good seat. However, I know the park is much busier during the summer, so consider getting Emotion Pass if you are going during the peak season.
Interestingly, I only heard people speaking French during our visit in October. It could be the time of year when the French visit or it really is an undiscovered gem for the English-speaking audience.
2. Download the “Puy du Fou” app and plan out your day before arrival
Download the app before you arrive the day before and familiarize yourself with the map and experiences on offer. It’s better to plan for the day of your visit, especially if you’re only there for a day and have some must-see shows on your list. Some shows are repeated three times a day and others like Le Signe du Triomphe only once so it helps to think about the sequence of shows you want to attend.
The app is helpful for several things:
- Lets you create your personalized program based on show timings
- Offers an interactive map so you don’t get lost in the park and can easily navigate to where you need to go
- Provides handy historical context to help understand the story of each show
- Offers simultaneous translation of each story into English
Bring a phone charger with you on the day!
3. Stay at Puy du Fou for two days
The show schedules and distances between them make it challenging to experience everything in just one day, especially when you’re travelling with kids. We travelled with two kids (aged 4 and 8) and found that two days was the perfect amount of time to see the best shows and not feel rushed.
4. Check the weather forecast and plan a mix of indoor/outdoor experiences
We were in the park for two days. The first day greeted us with sunshine, while the second day brought pouring rain. To make the most of your visit, aim for outdoor shows when the weather is pleasant, and opt for indoor shows and immersive experiences (all indoors) on days when it’s raining or scorching hot.
In case you find yourself unprepared for the rain, don’t worry. You can purchase rain covers within the park to stay dry and comfortable.
5. Select kid-friendly shows and experiences
Below are my top 7 favourite shows to watch with kids at Puy du Fou. It’s very subjective, of course. The average length for a show is 30 minutes, and for an immersive experience about 20 minutes. Follow the links to read more about them if you wish, as I don’t want to ruin any surprises 🙂
- Le Signe du Triomphe: gladiator battles and chariot races
- Les Vikings: Viking invasion complete with contests and daring feats
- Le Mime et l’Etoile: moving love story at the time of black-and-white cinema
- Le Secret de la Lance: legend of Joan of Arc’s sacred lance and acrobatics on horseback
- Les Chevaliers de La Table Ronde: tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table
- Mousquetaire de Richelieu: action-packed show with Musketeers and flamenco dancers
- Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes: birds of prey show with impressive falconry
Some experiences may not be suitable for younger children, and it’s important to gauge your children’s comfort levels. After all, you know your kids best! If you can, leave your kids with a partner while you go and watch them by yourself…
We did all of the experiences with our kids, and while my 4-year-old was oblivious to anything remotely scary, my 8-year-old did get upset and frightened at the shows below. I would say leave these for older children:
- Show: Le Dernier Panache (French Revolution execution reenacted on stage)
- Immersive experience: Les Amoreux de Verdun (loud noises, darkness, operating room)
- Immersive experience: Le Premiere Royaume (water, sound effects and strong scents)
- Immersive experience: Le Mystere de la Perouse (recreates a moving and sinking vessel)
6. Walk around the villages and take breaks with kids
During the intermissions between the performances, take a stroll through the period villages and explore the various shops that have been beautifully adorned in the style of the Middle Ages and other historical periods. These shops primarily feature crafts and artisans who have preserved traditional techniques for centuries. Here, you can witness a master glassmaker demonstrating the art of glass blowing, visit the skilled saddler, observe the potter’s craftsmanship, and interact with other tradespeople.
For families with younger children, there’s also a nice playground, a labyrinth, and dancing fountains that will provide a perfect break.
7. Stay to watch the evening shows
Don’t miss the evening shows; they are truly spectacular. During our October visit, we had the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing “Les Noces de Feu” performance on the lake. This show is an absolute must-see, and features stunning water-based scenes and performers emerging from the depths. Watch the trailer here.
The best part? It’s all included in the price of your park ticket, so there’s no need to pay extra. The show starts at 9 pm and lasts for 30 minutes. During our visit, even the kids were wide awake and enjoyed every moment.
If you plan to visit Puy du Fou when “La Cinéscénie” evening show is on, you’re in luck! Featuring a massive cast of 2,500 actors and dancers, “La Cinéscénie” is the world’s largest nighttime show. What a fantastic way to conclude your day at Puy du Fou!
Note that this show runs for 90 minutes and ends later in the evening than Les Noces de Feu. So, you might want to consider letting your kids nap before or during the performance. Keep in mind that “La Cinéscénie” requires a separate advance ticket purchase, and it comes at an additional cost.
8. Make dinner reservations if staying for the whole day
Bring some water and snacks, but don’t worry about finding something to eat during the day. You can make restaurant reservations onsite for a sit-down meal or grab healthy French fast food (think croque monsieur), ice cream or other food at fast food outlets scattered around the park.
I recommend making dinner reservations in advance due to popular demand. There are several options onsite including buffet-style restaurants like Les Deux Couronnes where we ate one night, and a restaurant with live comedy entertainment like Le Café de la Madelon while you eat. We preferred the buffet-style restaurant for dinner because there was more food choice.
Whether you book lunch or dinner, doing so in advance saves you 15% off the menu price.
What does Puy du Fou even mean in English?
Pronounced as “pwee doo foo”, Puy du Fou translates loosely into “Hill of the Beech”.
“Puy” means “hill”, “du” means “of”, and “fou” typically means “crazy” or “mad” but also carries the meaning of “beech”.
How do you get to Puy du Fou?
Puy du Fou is a 3hr 30mins drive from Paris, 3hr drive from Bordeaux, 2hr drive Poitiers and 1hr drive from Nantes and Angers.
We had our car and visited Puy du Fou as part of our visit to the Loire Valley. The park is only an hour’s drive from the famous chateaux in the region, so I recommend staying and exploring the area. Read Best Loire Valley to visit with kids for more ideas to plan your itinerary.
All parking at Puy du Fou is free of charge, and there is even a charger for electric cars in Parking Lot D, which was a lifesaver for us.
If you want to hire a car, Rentalcars is a great platform that lets you compare the prices of rental cars from your location to Puy du Fou.
The closest high-speed rail station to Puy du Fou is Angers TGV.
A shuttle service (up to 3 times a day) runs from Angers TGV to the park, taking about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It costs €16.90 per person one way or €33.80 return, and you need to reserve it in advance. You can check the latest shuttle schedule on the Puy du Fou website here.
The nearest airport to Puy du Fou is Nantes Atlantique Airport. You could take the domestic flight from Paris to Nantes, and then it’s 1 hour by car or by dedicated shuttle from the airport.
Where to stay near Puy du Fou?
You can stay at one of the six onsite Puy du Fou hotels, each with a unique historical theme. Alternatively, there are various accommodations available in the vicinity of the park, suiting a range of budgets and preferences.
We decided to stay at a hotel 20 minutes drive from the park, and there are plenty of accommodation options available on Booking.com. Next time we go, I want to try to experience what it’s like to stay at one of Puy du Fou hotels, and I have my eye on Le Camp du Drap d’Or, where they have giant tents with four poster beds and all the modern facilities inside. Until next time Puy du Fou!