Puy du Fou falconry Academy

It’s more than a month ago that I visited the world’s best theme park in France – Puy du Fou but I still continue to think about how much I loved it and how I would like to return with the family one day.

A visit to this unique step back in history is more than discovering a fascinating world of long ago played out before you by top-class actors. Puy du Fou sends you home with a complete top to tail wellbeing that I have never encountered elsewhere. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that it is to do with the ethos of the park.

A world of nature

Puy du Fou forest

I remember clearly, as I was walking around the vast grounds, how every single factor of the park had been taken into consideration and tuned into the overall wellbeing feel. You cannot help but be in awe of the flowers, foliage and well-kept grounds. The land boasts a 100-year old forest with 150 different species of trees and that keeps the 45 gardeners and landscapers busy all year round.  In fact, they have developed ecosystems based on the natural food chain, such as ladybirds used to tackle the aphids on the rose bushes and using Ouessant sheep as an ecological lawnmower!

Puy du Fou lake

They take their consideration for guests one step further by choosing to maintain the gardens with silent and ecological electrical equipment. Nature and the control of nature is respected at all times and is an intrinsic principle of the Park.

Puy du Fou’s animals

Puy du Fou falconry

Then there is the question of all the animals used in the shows, they are full-time actors too and play a key role in the Puy du Fou excellence. The onsite Equestrian Academy has 206 trained horses in all disciplines from the trick stunt riders seen in Le Secret de la Lance to the finer dressage used in Mosquetaire de Richelieu. Great care is shown to these much-loved animals and their trainers ensure they have a healthy diet and strictly regulate their work levels.

I was very pleased to see the Animal Conservatory which offers a sanctuary for many age-old species like the Poitou donkey, the Des Fosses goat and the Poitou goose. Puy du Fou holds the record for the largest number of protected species in Western France.

Puy du Fou piglets

Everyone knows how much a dog lover I am and there are plenty of opportunities to see dogs taking part in the shows too. The Canine Academy operates on fun based and playful training methods. The 10 Czechs wolves were taken in from the age of 2 and a half months. The first six months were devoted to interacting with them before any form of training takes place. The training is very gentle and both their wellbeing and confidence is of primary importance.

Then there is the Falconry Academy which we were allowed to enter and visit. You can too – make sure you book in advance though.

We spent a lot of time with one of the falconers who introduced us to many of the 73 different species looked after at Puy du Fou. We even saw some newborns and it was explained that some are kept for training and used in the shows but another equal proportion are prepared to return to their natural habitat. For these birds, there is a bare minimum of human interaction so as not to confuse them.

Intrigued? If you are considering visiting take a look at my What to see and do at Puy du Fou post and start planning the best family trip ever.

You’re going to love it!

This is a bit of a dip into the past as we haven’t got any pets, Paul is allergic to cats and it’s not the right time for us to have a dog as I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate that is needed for an animal but I do hope to one day take in a rescue dog and give him a happy home, it’s one of my dreams. I have had the honour of having cats and dogs and even a goldfish or two throughout my life, Tiptoes and Tora (cats) accompanied me throughout my teenhood and listened to many a woeful tale as I grew up.

During my life in Italy I had three dogs, Oscar , a hunting dog, who was so mad we ended up having to give him back as he would not be house trained and by that I don’t mean as in toilet training, no, I mean running in a straight line across furniture, children, in fact anything that was in his path! Oscar wasn’t a house pet and so we returned him to the kind farmer who had initially offered him to us.

Ellen a beautiful Giant black Schnauzer,  she was such a good girl but my, did she have a bark on her! She was very territorial so an excellent guard dog but it wasn’t such a warm welcome to any guest knocking on our door. Ellen was very sadly run over by a car whilst out running with my ex one day, a pure accident on a very quiet road and the car didn’t have time to stop. :(

The last dog I had was Tyson, an enormous friendly, home loving and child loving Rottweiler. I can honestly declare Tyson didn’t have a bad bone in his body, many a child’s birthday party was spent with children clambering over him and he would only move away if the play got too rough. We returned from a holiday once to find Tyson hanging on to dear life as out walking with my brother in law, unbeknown to him he’d found something and eaten it, it was most likely a poison put down but I found myself driving daily to our local vet for a week, carrying my beautiful boy in as he couldn’t even stand and staying with him all day whilst he was drip fed a solution in the hope it would clear him out and put him right. We very so close to losing him but fortunately he was saved.

When my ex and I split up, I had to leave Tyson behind and it was like abandoning a child, I had spent every day with him, nursed him through his life threatening illness and he was a very close friend to me. Whenever I went back to Italy I would always make a point of going to visit him but the guilt of leaving him when it was time to say goodbye never left me once. Tyson died a few years back and I got a phone call from Tommy in tears to tell me. He had grown up with Tyson and missed him terribly. :(

The cat in the photos is one of many, Celeste, named after a Disney character by Megan, you see her as a kitten being held by a 9 year old Megan and then having kittens herself. Thomas is holding a baby shark, obviously a dried dead one but he was very impressed by it whilst we were on a diving boat on the Red Sea and wanted to have his photo taken with it…and a dragon who shouldn’t be there but in the collage underneath? Bear with me on this one!

Right now, these guys are the animals in our life and although they do make a right mess if not watched over carefully they brighten up the girls room, play many games with them and watch over them as they sleep. The Welsh dragon is a souvenir from Llandudno, we have two (one each) from a holiday to North Wales when the girls were about 9 months old and finally monkey and George, my two, the only two that have survived all of my travelling around.

Monkey was made at San Patrignano a fantastic rehabilitation centre in Italy for people who have serious drug problems. They are taken in and are taught how to live life without having to resort to drugs. It’a an incredibly long process but it works, someone very close to my heart when through their program and worked in their textiles department making these monkeys (also the pillow behind Monkey was from there too) Their products are sold all over the world and some are made for internationally known brands.

So Tara, a few real animals I have had the pleasure of sharing moments of my life with and who I made strong connections with and miss them as I miss anyone close to me and a few helpful animals that currently make my life a little easier. Nip over to Sticky Fingers today to see all the animals presented for The Gallery, if you’re an animal lover this is your day :)