The idea of a theme park dedicated to Asterix, the popular Franco-Belgian comics series, might seem a little odd to those not familiar with the character. Parc Asterix, a short drive from the centre of Paris however is a family-friendly attraction which has some of the best seasonal overhauls you could imagine. Here’s why a Halloween trip is just one of the many reasons to visit this hidden gem only a short train ride from London.
Many theme parks don’t actually have a ‘theme’ to speak of. For every Universal or Disney attraction there are many more of the Alton Towers or Thorpe Park ilk. The general rule tends to be anything with an obvious hook such as Mickey and Co. will be full of colourful characters and costume parades. With that in mind, when I caught the Eurostar train to Paris on a Saturday morning in early October, I did wonder if I was heading to a location more focussed towards young kids. Parc Asterix is something of an unknown quantity in the UK, and what little I know of the comics comes from vague memories I had from childhood trips to the local library.
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Reading up a little more on the train, I was surprised to find that the park had been open since 1989 and is now the second largest park in France. You can guess which one if first, but with an average of 2.3 million visitors annually prior to 2020, Parc Asterix really isn’t that far behind. I was on the way for the hugely popular Peur sur le Parc launch, a month-long spectacular for Halloween, and that was a hint as to why this destination is very different to others. In France and other parts of Europe, roller coasters and incredible late-night shows are what brings in the crowds and Parc Asterix is known as one of the best in the business for those particular thrills.
To make the most of this trip and with sustainable travel in mind, I took a Eurostar train instead of flying. When you factor in things like travel times to the airport and security checks, it really is the best option. I left London at 11am and after a short taxi ride from Gard du Nord in Paris I was checked into my suitably atmospheric room at the park by late afternoon. Located in the heart of the Chantilly and Ermenonville forest, the thing that will strike you first and foremost about the park is the large roller coasters that peer over the trees. If you’re expecting a series of rides for kids then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Walking over to the main entrance, the next thing to hit you will be the sound of people screaming as the loop, fall, flip and climb through the corkscrew course of the intimidating Goudurix ride.
There are other big attractions dotted around the park, which itself has the added benefit of being easy to navigate. A number of zones are based around ancient gods (Norse, Greek, Egyptian etc) and this is a narrative that will be even more apparent in the coming years. A new, record-breaking attraction is coming in 2023 and this will kick-off a different way of showcasing the rides.
I was already impressed by the adrenaline-fuelled experiences I got to sample in the daytime, but things were about to take a turn for the spooky as the sun dipped over the horizon.
Running from October 1st to early November, Peur sur le Parc (Fear in the park) is the Halloween extravaganza that has become a big part of the calendar here. There are small hints even when the sun is up, but these are more wholesome elements that you associate with the end of October. Young children will have a great time for the first part of the day, but it’s certainly wise to consider how scary the environment can get in the evening. It’s still all done in a great spirit, but you do have to commit to some of the more adult-themed activities wholeheartedly.
The rides will also be running until the park closes, which during this period is very late into the night. I managed to ride most of the big attractions when I first arrived, but there was absolutely no way I could face them at night! Instead, I ‘enjoyed’ some of the terrifying rooms and activities going on at ground level before a suitably immersive Monster Parade to end the evening.
If you’re short on time, as I was, and are heading back to London on the following day, the good news is that the park is open early to anyone staying at one of the hotels on site and you can get access to even more rides before the day-trippers arrive.
I managed to pack in a lot on my short trip, and there’s plenty to do if you are travelling on your own, with a partner or even with a larger group of friends and family. If Halloween isn’t you cup of spice latte, then you can plan for a more festive visit when everything takes on a Christmas-y feel at the end of the year.
Ultimately if you’re looking for a classic theme park experience, which not everyone knows about yet, then Parc Asterix fits the bill perfectly.
Two nights at La Cité Suspendue at Parc Asterix start from £792 for a family four sharing a family room. The price includes breakfast and tickets for the two days at the park as well as a 10% reduction in the shops.
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