Puy du Fou
Puy du Fou ([pɥi dy fu]) is a historical theme park in Les Epesses, in the Pays de la Loire region of western France. It receives more than 2 million visitors every year, making it one of the most popular theme parks in France. In 2019 and 2020, it was the fourth largest theme park in France in terms of attendance, behind Walt Disney Studios, Disneyland Paris, and Parc Astérix.
The idea of Puy du Fou began (without a theme park) in 1977, when Philippe de Villiers, a twenty-seven-year-old student (now a politician), decided to create an original show named "Cinéscénie".
On 13 June 1977, he discovered the ruins of an old renaissance castle in the village of Les Epesses near Cholet, and wrote a scenario about a local family named Maupillier (the real name of a soldier of Vendée at the time of the conflict between Vendée and the French Republic during the French Revolution), spanning the period from the fourteenth century until World War II.
Phillippe de Villiers organized an association of 600 members (3650 today) named "l'Association du Puy du Fou" whose current president is Phillippe de Villiers' son, Nicolas de Villiers.
When the first representation of the Cinéscénie began in June 1978, the show did not have great success, but that quickly changed by the end of the first season, and with that success, the show grew into a huge spectacular. It has since spawned its own micro-industry of actors, prop-makers and trainers for the featured horse riding and sword fighting, which, since 1998, has been due to the efforts of the "Académies Junior" who organized shows every year apart from the Cinéscénie, such as the Paris Paname in the "Halle Renaissance" of the Grand Parc, in March 2008.
The Grand Parc of the Puy du Fou was opened near the Cinéscénie in 1989, and is today one of the most popular theme parks in France.
In 2011, the Grand Parc of Puy du Fou hosted the team presentations prior to the Tour de France, which was set to begin in the Vendée.
On 13 August 2018, the Grand Parc launched a program where specially trained rooks fly around the park to pick up cigarette butts and other small pieces of litter. Christophe Gaborit, the park's Head of Falconry, originally trained the birds to participate in the park's falconry show, but later was inspired to teach them how to pick up rubbish left by the park's visitors. By using a specially-created box, which was inspired by a magician's prop, he taught six of his birds—Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, Bricole, and Baco—to deliver bits of trash to the box and exchange them for food. The goal of the project is both to teach the park's visitors about the birds and to discourage littering.
In 2019, the project expanded abroad with the night show El sueño de Toledo ("The dream of Toledo") about the history of Spain in Toledo, Spain. It is the first stage of Puy du Fou España. In 2021, it expanded into a park with five shows and four villages.