Cowboysnews.us: French theme park brings HISTORY to life by Hot News Cowboys in Adventure:
As they clashed, the stage lights shone brightly on two full armies on the cusp of an ultra-realistic brutal battle. We were witnessing what must be one of the world’s most epic live shows.
La Cinéscénie is the flagship performance at French theme park Puy du Fou, which specialises in bringing history to life. And they do nothing by halves.
Sitting in the outdoor audience for La Cinéscénie is like watching the live filming of the latest action blockbuster. The night-time show lasts one hour and 40 minutes, involves 2,000 actors on the world’s largest stage and consists of 24,000 costumes and hundreds of live animals.
“Sitting in the outdoor audience for La Cinéscénie is like watching the live filming of the latest action blockbuster”
The scale and detail of the show is staggering. If you squint your eyes you can see people acting out scenes almost a mile away. Clever lighting also allows the crew to change the scenery quickly while your attention is focused elsewhere.
Somehow 700 years of French history – from the days of knights, battles with England, the revolution and Napoleon, through to two world wars – is squeezed in, along with all the parties, ceremonies and love stories that go with them.
There are fireworks, lasers, a full-scale air raid, people walking on water, trench warfare, banquets and carnivals. The epic production of La Cinéscénie provides enough entertainment on its own.
However, it is simply one part of Puy du Fou – where, unbelievably, there are 25 other shows and attractions to visit. The place itself, in the heart of the Vendee, is massive – the size of a small town – and it’s no surprise it attracts more than two million visitors each year.
As with everything at Puy du Fou, no detail is spared in making La Citadelle realistic. When you walk through the portcullis inside the city walls into the courtyard all you can see are stables, a vegetable garden, a well and a number of peasant homes.
It’s only when you walk up to the homes and the automatic doors open that you realise it’s actually a hotel and the buildings around it are a bar, restaurant and a series of bedrooms.
Freddie was delighted when he realised our bedroom was in the main ramparts of the city gates – the bit which looked like a castle. Not that we could spend much time there – there was too much to see in the park.
We got “emotion” passes, which are very handy as they let you bypass the sometimes long queues at the more popular events. As with La Cinéscénie, every effort is made to make sure what you are seeing is the best show of that type you have ever witnessed.
Certainly, this was the case with Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes, a hugely impressive bird of prey show. Owls, eagles, vultures, falcons, hawks, ravens and a secretary bird all whizz around the arena, skimming over your hair – and in some cases actually landing on visitors’ heads.
There was a story that went with the show – like with all the performances you can use a radio translator if you want to follow it word-for-word – but the birds provided more than enough entertainment on their own.
There wasn’t any time to dwell on what we had seen – we needed to rush off and see Les Vikings. In around half an hour you witness an invasion from terrifying Vikings who, at one point, emerge from a ship that is somehow raised from beneath the lake in the centre of the stage.
There is also a part where the village is burnt down, a wedding takes place, a man with live wolves joins the action, and the obligatory – and very bloody – battle.
The biggest and longest of the daytime shows at Puy du Fou is a Roman-themed romp called Le Signe du Triomphe. It takes place in a giant stadium, which is decked out like an amphitheatre, and focuses on a Roman Emperor and his governors torturing Gallic prisoners.
Photographer Lisa Werner recreated old photos from her studying days in Strasbourg, France
As well as lions and tigers, there were camels, ostriches, bulls, geese, goats, horses, a leopard and a hyena. Plus watching actors being chased by lions certainly added the thrill factor.
And that is what Puy du Fou is all about – it is absolutely thrilling.
Grand Parc and Cinéscénie tickets begin from £49.41 for adults and £32.90 for children.
Bookings for accommodation begin from £49.41 per person per night in one of the five themed hotels within Puy du Fou, including tickets to the Grand Parc.
For more information visit Puydufou.com
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