The Best French Theme Park; Futuroscope. Just. Don’t. Miss. It.
On our very first family holiday to France, our oldest (then aged 11) had one oft-begged request; PLEASE could we visit the Best French Theme Park. He’s 11, and his yearning for adrenaline adventures are often severely hampered by younger siblings, and on this his very first adventure abroad he so desperately wanted to go somewhere truly exciting. Luckily, we were staying in the Vienne, and were just 40 minutes away from Futuroscope; so we booked tickets, we spent a day there… and how happy we ALL were that he had insisted.
Futuroscope – what to tell you?
First off, it’s kind of smack in the middle of France, close to Poitiers. It’s been there for 23 years – and yet no one has heard of it in the UK.
Secondly, it’s the brain child of Luc Besson, one of my favourite directors and a Man of Genius.
Thirdly…Well. How to actually tell you about Futuroscope?
“WOW!” Just about sums it up. Or maybe ‘Brain Bafflingly Brilliant”.
We actually didn’t have much idea what to expect, as my French was not good enough to translate more than the basics form the literature we picked up in France, and I had forgotten to examine the English version of the website before we left (which is definitely worth a look round).
Entry was simple – the reception area knew to expect us, had our tickets waiting, and directed us straight to the area inside which contained the English guides, and the translation headsets (Top tip from our courier – take your own headphones. We took the boys and not only saved a few Euros, but also they were far more comfortable than the cheapy in-ear ones available to buy).
So, deciding to be methodical, we began at the beginning, and followed the numbered guide on the map.
And there we were, suddenly, brilliantly sliding through wild terrains, able to feed the virtual monkeys, quickly knock the ghastly spider from our goggles, and see the person next to us turn into a seriously ugly octopus…. we left the ride (The future is wild) with an enormous, slightly dazzled grin and couldn’t wait to see what was next.
Voyageurs Du Ciel Et De La Mer (travellers by land and by sea) simply took our collective breath away. A nature film on an Imax screen – with a twist, as the screen rolls under your feet too, meaning you immerse yourself totally in the landscapes, and I became genuinely emotional as I found myself flying slowly over an immense and beautiful blue whale as it breached the ocean surface. We were all utterly transfixed, including the 3 yr old – for the full 20 minutes of the show.
Sticking your head out of a train moving at speed is not something I would recommend – and I know for sure what it feels like thanks to the brilliant ‘La Vienne Dymamique‘ which uses the dynamic seats system (where the seats rock, shake, twist and move with the action in the film), and totally took us by surprise. Driving a racing car through the streets, the wind whipping our hair, sliding round corners and (almost) crashing into flower sellers… I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I screamed like a big girl. Best of all the 3yr old was able to sit to the side and enjoy the film (which was very funny) without the jolting ‘exciting’ seats, so we were all able to enjoy together.
With a ‘Danse Avec Les Robot’ for the big thrills (only the 11 yr old and I were brave enough to take on the robotic arms flipping us upside down 30 feet in the air – it was wild and fab and I wouldn’t do it again!), and brilliant play spaces for some ‘down time’, the whole park has been planned meticulously. Following another tip from our Keycamp courier we didn’t arrive until after lunch as we wanted to stay to the evening lightshow which doesn’t start until 22:45. Starting early would have been just too much for small legs. We were lucky that the park was relatively empty, and never had to queue for long, and although the day was scorching (38º and very humid) the park is laid out with so much care and attention to the shade, and so much running water everywhere that we coped with ease. Even the buildings were awe-inspiring, every single one imposing, beautiful, huge, weird and just wonderful. Food was reasonable and with a great selection, and we loved the fact that covered areas were available for picnicking (I wish now we’d opted for a meal at La Cristal).
We loved all of the ‘rides’ (shows, really – all designed to confuse and amaze your senses), but Futuroscope is about so much more, and far too much to be able to see and do everything in a day. We watched a stunning universe unfold in Cosmic Collisions as the boys learned about the formation of our moon (although the French commentary sounded more fun than our own rather serious Robert Redford one), the boys were thrilled by the Podracing in EcoDingo, we watched the feature film about a rather cute fly (yes, really) on the Moon Landing in stunning 3D, and we didn’t see nearly enough of anything.
The topmost, most fantastic, amazing experience of all was the Arthur 4D Adventure. Words just can’t describe to you how amazingly wonderful this was – I never wanted to get off. If you’ve ever watched a beautiful fantasy film and felt that just for five minutes you would love to be in there, know what it was really like… well, this is the ride for you.
The evening lightshow finished the day off in a spectacular laser light and water explosion of sound and colour and fantasy.
The entire magical day was finished for us by leaving after midnight (still in 27º heat) watching forked lightning flash all around us.
To be honest, theme parks are not my idea of a wonderful day out – I’ll put up with them, but can think of many more places I’d rather be. But this. This is different. The very first theme park I would seriously consider a two day break JUST to visit more fully. Quite the most amazing day we’ve had. If you’re visiting Aquitaine – do NOT miss Futuroscope.
Day tickets cost from €36 per person, or you can make it a short break with Futuroscope’s selection of offers that include accomodation + breakfast + entry tickets + the aquatic fairytale evening show from Cirque du Soleil from €63.