Forget Disneyland Paris, the nearby theme park Parc Asterix is a bargain – and has a new 70mph ride
My nine-year-old son holds my hand firmly and leads me in the direction of a benign looking mound of fake neolithic stones.
‘Come on, Mum! This is the new ride, we have to try it.’ If I’d looked more closely at the skeletal track beyond, I would have opted out.
The ride is called Toutatis — Parc Asterix’s record-breaking new attraction, which accelerates at 70mph (a record speed for France), before abruptly reversing and dragging passengers 51m up a vertical boom and plummeting them back to Earth again.
I’m not counting how many times my bum leaves my seat as we hurtle around sharp bends and are thrown upside down. When I finally emerge on jelly legs, and take a proper look at the carriages hurtling up and around the steel tracks, I realise it looks as terrifying as it feels, even so I go again the next day with my eldest daughter.
The sign of a good roller-coaster, according to Toutatis project engineer Julien Simon, is that you go on the first time to brave it and then go on again because you love it. Judging by the 70-minute queues at 10.30am, there are clearly thrillseekers all over Europe who are either braving it or loving it.
Antonia Windsor and her family pay a visit to Parc Asterix, just north of Paris. It’s ‘half the price’ of a trip to Disneyland Paris, she reveals. Above is the new Toutatis ride at the park
Toutatis (left) accelerates to 70mph, before abruptly reversing and dragging passengers 51m up a vertical boom and plummeting them back to Earth again. Pictured right is Antonia and her family at the park. She writes: ‘It may not be Disneyland, but it’s the stuff of which childhood dreams are made’
I’ve come to Parc Asterix, just north of Paris, with my three children aged seven, nine and 11. It’s a post-SATs treat for my eldest, who was hankering after a visit to Disneyland. Parc Asterix is half the price.
My eldest had chanced upon an Asterix comic book at school, and so already knows something of the warrior’s scrapes and mishaps while defending his Breton village against the march of the Romans. The other two have a crash-course in the story of Asterix and his sidekick, Obelix, in the park’s 4D cinema and don’t seem to even notice the film is in French.
It’s the ‘Frenchness’ of the park that makes it so appealing. Who wants to go to France to engage with American culture? Here, they are surrounded by the language and those Gallic characters created nearly 65 years ago, by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny.
The park is beautifully landscaped with forests and lakes, and is divided into zones: Egypt, with a thrilling inverted roller-coaster called Oziris; Greece, with wooden coaster Tonnerre 2 Zeus, which was renovated last year, and the family coaster Pegase Express (a maximum speed of just 30mph, and a chilling — for my youngest — encounter with Medusa); and there’s also Rome and Paris.
The park is beautifully landscaped with forests and lakes, and is divided into zones. Above is the ‘Le Grand Splatch’ ride
It’s the ‘Frenchness’ of the park that makes it so appealing, according to Antonia. Pictured is the park’s Discobelix ride
Two nights at La Cite Suspendue cost from £582 per room for a family of four. Price includes accommodation, breakfast and tickets to the park (parcasterix.fr/en).
The new area, Festival Toutatis, is an extension of Asterix’s Gaulish village.
Throughout the park the food is exceptionally tasty, and you can sit on a restaurant terrace and imagine you are in a Provencal village, rather than a theme park.
There are many smaller attractions, including a 19th-century carousel, seven water rides and a daily programme of shows, including the excellent Les Plongeons de l’Olympe, in which Olympic-standard divers jump off increasingly high platforms (all included in the park’s €39 day entrance fee).
As the sun sets behind the trees, we wander back to the three-star La Cite Suspendue hotel, a fairytale collection of wooden huts hidden deep in the forest.
It may not be Disneyland, but it’s the stuff of which childhood dreams are made.