Cinéscénie


Have you ever seen a theatrical show that will blow your mind and make all of your hair raise at the same time, not out of fright but out of disbelief that something so extraordinarily beautiful exists? 

I still can't get over the evening show that we've watched two nights ago. Moreso, that words escape me. Cinéscénie is the biggest nocturnal show in the world. The premier night  show at Puy du Fou, an international award winning, best historical theme park in the world located in Les Epesses, France.

What makes Cinéscénie spectacular? Well firstly, it's an outdoor theatre. Imagine watching 1200 actors, 120 cavaliers perform in a 23 hectare outdoor set with a real 15th Century, Italian Renaissance style castle as a backdrop.  Match that with amazing technical light and sound effects by 80 technicians, 24,000 period costumes, with comédiens (actors) performing on land and water. The cinematic performance runs 1 hour and 40 minutes.  There's a lot happening in every corner, you won't know where to look.

Before the show. The grand stage of land and water with the 15th Century Chateau
16,000 spectators were all excited, all squeezed in. No seats were vacant. All were booked.
At sundown, anticipation was in the air before the show.
The Grand Performance of Puyfoulais
Laser, canons, fire works, water jets, horses, projectors, the works


What makes the show special and almost ethereal? 

A perfect harmony of architecture, design, history, music, dance, drama, art & science of light and sound, calligraphy, literature and poetry.  The wonderful musical score by Nick Glennie-Smith launched the audience back in time, while performers exhibited talent and passion for their craft. A poetic narrative is told in French based on the 700-year history of France told through the eyes of the Vendéens, the citizens of La Vendée, a department in the western part of France. 

Cinéscénie is so emotionally moving that all 16,000 spectators that evening unanimously stood up after the performance for a grand standing ovation that was definitely due.

The show was initiated and originally directed by Philippe de Villiers, a French politician who is also the founder of Puy du Fou. 

Where is it?



What makes it a success?

Guess what? Everyone on the show from performers to all service personnels (ticket, security and etc..) are volunteers. Actors or comediens are students from the Junior Academy of Puy du Fou. All benevolent volunteers are referred to as Puyfoulais and they all make this bi-weekly night show a success. It has sort of become a tradition in the community since 1978 and passionate Puyfoulais commit, participate and contribute their time, efforts and talents for the love of Puy du Fou, their community and Vendéen culture.

Mind you, I've grown cynical having lived in the Middle East for many years and I have been used to seeing the best shows which made me immune to performances, but Cinéscénie is different. 

This, by far is the most spectacular show I have ever seen in my life! 

The chateau facade for instance changes with every scene as an image is projected. There were real canons! It shows the grandiose era illustrating the history of the Chateau during the Renaissance. There were sad and dark moments that drove me to tears during the 1793 Vendéen War sparked by the harsh conditions imposed by the Revolutionary government, followed by World War I highlighting Verdun and World War II showing the refugees of Ardennes.

The fireworks, laser show, water jets and fountains were just icing on the cake. The brioche dance, an inherent part of La Vendee culture was amusing to see.  I think it deserves all of the superlatives. 

Watch the trailer here:



How much is it?

Cinéscénie ticket costs Eur 26 per person. This show is not included in the Puy du Fou Grand Parc Ticket. There are combination tickets available at Eur 47. You can book online here. We purchased our discounted tickets from the Tourism Office of Chateau d'Olonne.



Tips in making the most of your Cinéscénie experience:

1. Book tickets in advance.  It only runs twice a week, Friday and Saturday. The show starts at 9pm and it's 1 hour and 40 minutes long. We bought ours a month ago. Once the ticket dates are booked, they can't be changed.  A specific row is assigned per ticket, so do arrive early. 

2. There are headsets- audio translations available in English, Italian etc. Due to the poetic narration of the story, it was hard to understand in French. I didn't want to miss anything so it was a good idea to get audio headsets with an additional charge. 

3. Bring rain coats. Yes, it can rain anytime. The show will go on, rain or not. It briefly rained before the show.

4. It's so tempting to take lots of pictures during the performance. It was hard not to but I'm glad I put away my camera. Just enjoy the show. 

5. I wish I should have, but do read a bit about La Vendée Revolt, The World War I at Verdun and a bit about La Vendée before the show. I kept asking my husband who they were fighting against during the 1793 war? And since he didn't know much about their history, I didn't get my answer until I googled it. 



Do you think it's a show that you would love to see?
Are you fond of theatrical shows?

Love & light,
Arni

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2 comments

  1. Sounds and looks gorgeous. My city has a European Movie Festival going on currently near a nearby lake and the movies are aired in the middle of the forest in an auditorium that looks like a medieval fortress.

    You look very pretty in that last photo!

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  2. I remember a colleague went to this show a while ago and told me all about it. Like you, he was absolutely amazed by the performance and the ambiance. It's certainly something I would like to see sometime. Incredibile that it's all volunteers.

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