France's Parc Asterix | My Family Travels
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Discover a distinctly French theme park just outside of Paris.

Ah, Paris, France: city of art, and history, and monuments; and when the kids need a break from all that haute culture, well, there’s that great theme park just out of town…

Parc Astérix.

If you’re unacquainted with Astérix, you’re in for a treat: the “Astérix” comics have been popular for decades, mainly in Europe, but they’re sold worldwide. (As a measure of their stature in France, the movie version starred primo actor Gerard Depardieu.)

Events are set 2,000 years ago. As Rome’s empire sweeps north, only one small town of plucky Gauls holds out. These cheeky Gauls sport such names as Astérix, Obélix, and Postaldistrix, and their world is recreated at the popular Parc Astérix.

Dare I call any theme park with large cartoon figures tasteful? Perhaps not, but Parc Astérix is executed with style.

Throughout, you’ll see large figures of Astérix, Obelix, and pals generally being silly. Various rides, eateries, and shops are grouped in six distinct time periods. The Middle Ages section is a wonderful cartoonish medieval town, with artisans at work, and puppet shows, and quaint shops where you can buy knight figurines and even real swords.

The park’s rides range from gut-wrenching coasters to tame kiddie-pleasers. Another big plus is live entertainment and shows take place all day long. We saw an exciting pantomime complete with gigantic toppling ship and comic car chase onstage. It was high showmanship, with no français required.

As for food, the restaurants in the Via Antiqua near the park entrance tend to be crowded. (And watch out for the weird pink hotdogs.) Luckily, baguette sandwiches are ubiquitous. Our best find was a self-service place deeper in the park, with an inexpensive kids menu and real food including crudités (raw veggies) and an assortment of cheese — this is France, after all.

Which brings up perhaps the best reason of all to visit Parc Astérix. Yes, there is a certain rather famous theme park nearby, and Disneyland Paris is doubtless loads of fun, but Parc Astérix is a truly unique French experience.

Getting there:

Shuttle buses depart from Charles de Gaulle airport; check the Parc Astérix website for details (www.parcAsterix.com). The park is located at B.P. 8 60128 Plailly, France (0826.30.10.40) and closes its daily operation from November to March. However, check their website if you’re visiting at year’s end as it often opens for a week of special festivities over the Christmas – New Year’s school break.

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This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.