We swapped Disneyland Paris for this quirky alternative and saved £1,000


A family theme park vacation may seem daunting in these financially challenging times, but there are some lesser-known European options that may be of interest to bank managers. there is.

Among them is Park Asterix., 45 minutes by car north of Paris. The package is comparable to Disneyland Paris, but what about for families of avid Disney fans who are already enjoying a great French break with Mickey and his pals?

Of course, Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix offer completely different experiences across accommodations, rides, and restaurants. But when you simply compare packages, the lesser-known options are much more appealing.

A two-night stay at Parc Asterix for a family of four this month costs €546 (£470), including 3-star accommodation at La Cité Suspandieu, breakfast (on-site meals from around €10/£8.60 to €40) ). / £34.50 per person) and park tickets.

At Disney, a similar grade hotel, the three-star Sequoia Lodge, starts from €1,600 (£1,373). His day passes to Asterix Park also tend to be cheaper. Standard one-day admission to Parc Asterix is ​​€62 (£53.20). Admission to Disneyland Paris costs £97.21 for one park and £120.36 for both parks. However, both often have special offers online.

“I don't want to go anywhere else. I want to go back to Disneyland Paris,” insisted my 16-year-old daughter Tara, supported by my rebellious 13-year-old Emma. Her wife, Jenny, also seemed unconvinced by the idea of ​​a uniquely French alternative to the rite of passage for French children, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Parc Asterix opened in 1989 and is a firm favorite with French families. It was built on a rural site covered in virgin forest and was built at a cost of 850 million French francs, with a major investment from Barclays.

This location was chosen due to its proximity to the motorway (which has its own junction) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Conceptualized as a homage to Asterix, its themes also include the Romans and Egyptians.

In 2021, the park closed its dolphin and sea lion enclosures to focus on rides, and in 2023 it introduced Tutatis, a roller coaster it claims is “France's fastest attraction.” The atmosphere is more historic than Disneyland Paris, with half-timbered houses. , medieval streets and arched towers. And there's always a forest in the background.

Parc Asterix had a record year in 2023 with more than 2.8 million visitors, a fraction of Disneyland Paris' 14 million annual visitors. When Asterix Park first opened, only 7% of visitors were from outside France, but it has doubled since then. Most of the visitors were French families, with teenagers looking for thrilling rides, but we also saw some British visitors at hotels and in the park.

I was worried that our girls wouldn't have fun, but then we could have just gone to Disneyland, which is a charming 50 kilometers to the southeast.

When I got off the highway just north of Paris, I felt light-headed, too. However, I was immediately put at ease by our hotel, a 3 star hotel, La Cité Suspendue. This hotel is located deep in the forest, similar to the 4-star hotel reviews.

My family exploring the hotel (Photo: Robin McKelvie)
My family exploring the hotel (Photo: Robin McKelvie)

Our two-bedroom room felt more like the Brothers Grimm than Asterix, with thick timber beds and muted colors to make the most of the woodland setting. It has a simple, comfortable and homely feel, with a hidden balcony surrounded by trees.

As we entered the reception, we heard birds chirping everywhere, were greeted in English, and checked in. We didn't have any problems with the language barrier during our stay. The only thing the girls didn't understand was the show, but pirates and their slapstick tales are universal.

I was also worried that my daughters wouldn't take kindly to Asterix and his band of merry Gauls, brought to life by Albert Uderzot and René Goscinny's book.

A park themed after the cartoon character
A park themed after the cartoon character “Asterix” (Photo: Parc Asterix)

“We know that Asterix is ​​the father, everyone knows,” Tara scolded. However, he is no Mickey Mouse. He also never overdoes it, with his six themed zones in the park spanning each region and civilization of the world, expanding the appeal. Emma added that she likes Asterix anyway, he's “more French”.

La Cité Suspendue was fun. As the name suggests, it's perched on a hill surrounded by trees, with chunky wooden lodges connected by elevated walkways. Our room had plenty of space. The highlight was the terrace with table and chairs where herons glided by.

You feel more comfortable when surrounded by wildlife and trees Jurassic Park It was a lot of fun compared to many other theme parks I've visited. The buffet restaurant offered a lot of fresh and healthy food instead of burgers. proper diet. The girls relaxed while we enjoyed Chablis at the outdoor table.

I almost forgot this was a theme park, but I made the most of my two full days there. Hotel guests can arrive earlier than the general public, and this is no different at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland has two parks, but only one park, so getting around is easy.

Park Asterix can't match Disney's wide range of rides, but it's a good balance.

One of the park's water rides (Photo: Arnaud Sobczyk)
One of the park's water rides (Photo: Arnaud Sobczyk)

We splurged on 'Gold Philotomatics' Fast Passes which cost €45 (about £40) each. This allowed me to skip the lines for 50 rides and shows and was cheaper than the equivalent Fast Pass at Disney, which costs about twice as much. Since it was Easter time, it was about as crowded as when I visited Disneyland Paris during my summer vacation, but thanks to the wide walkways and forest setting, it didn't feel too crowded.

This pass allowed Tara to cover “proper big rides” without wasting time in line. I was worried that Asterix Parc would be more geared toward younger children. There are plenty of imaginative playgrounds and beautiful rides, all beautifully executed, but there are also roller coasters, and that's also true. The two blew Tara away. Goudurix is ​​a steel roller coaster with seven loops that held the European record for the most number of inversions when it opened in 1989.

“You really feel everything,” she said with a smile about the ride, which was a little tough for her father. But Toutatis topped it with cod. The speed of the coaster reaches 110 km/h.

Emma wasn't too keen on being thrown around at the speed of an express train. Here at Asterix Her Park offered less exciting, non-loop, aquatic thrills. The Menhir Express reminded me of the log flumes I enjoyed on Blackpool's Pleasure She Beach as a child.

Tutati district at night (Photo: Sylvain Cambon Photographe)
Tutati district at night (Photo: Sylvain Cambon Photographe)

It can be difficult to find good food at theme parks, but thankfully that's not the case at Parc Asterix. For dinner, in addition to the hotel buffet, there are the usual fast food restaurants you'd expect, and of course, since it's a French theme park, you can enjoy delicious crepes everywhere.

Then there's Restaurant du Lac. With a relaxed bistro atmosphere and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake, it serves some of the best food we've had at a theme park. A delicious salmon tartare sets the tone for the kind of authentic bistro fare you'd expect at a Parisian restaurant. The highlight was his trio of wild boar (sourced within 200km of the park) – spicy and rich sausages, kebabs and chops – washed down with cold draft Kronenburg. Lunch for 4 was less than £30 per person.

Salmon tartare (Photo: Robin McKelvie)
Salmon tartare (Photo: Robin McKelvie)

Another concern is that at a time when Disneyland Paris is innovating again, including a major renovation and rebranding at one of its parks, Parc Asterix may be a bit stuck in the past. That was it. This season, Parc Asterix presents the new Gallic Musical and Gallic Parade in its 600-seat Panoramic Theater.

Tara loved the new Tower of Numerobis, which rises to a height of 40 meters and then rotates with stunning views of the forest and park. This is a useful way to plan your next move. There is also talk of a new hotel to rival Disneyland Paris.

As we gradually moved away from Parc Asterix, there were three happy passengers. However, a big question remained. Which theme park among the biggest hits in Paris will get the vote of publicist Tara? She described the atmosphere inside the car as follows: “I loved it. I really loved it. But I also love Disneyland Paris,” she smiled. “Can I go to both of you next time?”

how to get there
Parc Asterix is ​​located 35 km north of Paris, near Charles de Gaulle Airport. The author used easyJet, which offers direct and one-way flights from his 10 UK airports from £15.99.

From Eurostar, take the RER from Gare du Nord to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, then take a bus directly to the park.

visit there
Parc Asterix offers accommodation and admission packages from 68.25 euros per person. General admission prices start from 42 euros.



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