Even though no amusement park in Europe can beat the competition of Disneyland Paris, for the Ancient History lovers it is undoubtedly better to have a look at Puy du Fou, that throughout the years became one of the most popular theme parks in France.

Puy du Fou is far away from Paris, placed in a tiny village in the Vendée department, that during the French Revolution went through violent days, forgotten by the official historiography. The whole region, where the Catholic creed was heavily rooted, was highly against the revolution: it is believed that in 1794 the government sent its troops to repress the local uprising which was protecting the religious ministers, guilty of rejecting the new constitution. The fight terminated with a slaughter to the inhabitants of Vendée.

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In the distant 1977 the story of Puy du Fou began, wanted by Philippe de Villiers, back then 27 years old student and later involved in the political scene (in 2007 he was candidate for the French elections).

De Villiers decided to create an original performance called “Cinéscénie” when he discovered the ruins of an ancient Renaissance castle in the village of Les Epesses, around Cholet. He made up a story focused on a local family, the Maupillier, called after a soldier from Vendée who existed in the period during which the city fought against the government.

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Cinéscénie saw the light in June 1978, thanks to the 600 people gathered by de Villiers in an association, in French called “Association du Puy du Fou”, which managed to turn the show into reality. Throughout the years it became an important musical which was talking about the history of Vendée from the 14th century up until WW2. The show was performed every year until 1989, when the park of Puy du Fou was then officially opened to the public. During the years many other shows have been added besides Cinéscénie as part of the historical program of the theme park.

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The park preserve some small monuments that bring back to mind the terrible events of the past: de Villiers supports that the slaughter carried out by the French soldiers was a genocide, purposely deleted by officially history books. Even though the story of the region is the main background in which the park develops, Puy du Fou offers other performances, more awkward, dealing with lighter events and stories.

“The Mystery of the Spear” is one of the big 26 shows that occur in front of the merlons of a medieval castle. The performance represents the story of a shepherdess supposed to protect her property from the English knights. At a certain point, she got pushed away by a spear with supernatural powers.

During the “Musketeers of Richelieu”, a unit of musketeers perform a combat with the sword, while some gypsy women dance the flamenco. The show is enriched by a number of horses dealing with particular techniques of trot and jump.

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“The Vikings” is another show; in this case the events evolve around a fort, reconstructed, which is attacked by a Viking ship. The story begins with a wedding which takes place in the village, right before the arrival of the ship. When the Vikings land and emerge from underneath the water, the tension grows, in a spectacular special effect.

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For those who desire to live the Gaul era during the Roman Empire, there are gladiator combats and challenge with running wagons. The “Sign of Triumph” is one of the shows set during the Diocletian Kingdom, when the Roman Empire was going through heavy disarray.

Below: the “Éternels”, extraordinary presentation film of the theme park

The English newspaper The Guardian defined the Puy du Fou park as “…a bizarre phenomenon: a rural theme park without any rides.”

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