Disneyland is, as you would expect, one of the most popular destinations in Europe for families, offering the sort of holiday that children will love and remember for years to come. However, the downside of the world-famous Disney theme park is the price, particularly if you have a big family.
Disneyland is notoriously expensive for families, and even the European alternative to the huge Florida park is out of the budget of a lot of parents. Once you've bought park tickets for each family member, you then need to budget for accommodation, food, additional entertainment and travel, and if you want to stay within the Disney complex you'll be shelling out a lot of extra money for a decent room.
However, France has a lot to offer for families - here's a handy France travel guide for reference if you're looking for more recommendations - including a handful of family-friendly theme parks you might not have heard of. So here's 3 alternatives to Disneyland that will give you the family orientated French break you want, without having to destroy your savings:
Located in the Auvergne region of central France, this volcano-themed park is incredibly exciting and unique. Most of it takes place underground, where you'll find a variety of rides and fantastic multimedia experiences. Three particularly popular experiences are Magma Explorer, a roller-coaster tour of the inside of a volcano, Mission Toba, an engaging film experience shown on a 180-degree screen, and Dragon Ride, a multimedia-based roller-coaster that tells a story about dragons living under the earth's surface.
My favourite thing about this theme-park is the combination of fantastic and real science, meaning your kids can actually learn something while they're having fun! You can find out more on their website.
This is the most popular theme park in France behind Disneyland Paris, welcoming thousands of visitors every month. Located in the town of Poitiers, this futuristic theme park offers a range of rides and multimedia experiences, with a focus on 3D IMAX films. There are even 4D film experiences, such as the Journey Into The Musical World Of The Beatles, which is great for both children and adults. For thrill seekers, I'd recommend Dances With Robots, which swings riders around on the end of a giant robotic arm, and is particularly popular with visitors.
There is a fair amount of screen time at this theme park, but it's a good mix of different experiences and children will love it. It's also well located in western central France, meaning it doesn't have to be the entire focus of a holiday. Find out more by visiting the Futuroscope website.
Puy du Fou
Located a little further west is Puy du Four, a huge theme park divided into seven individual shows (five taking place in the day, and two taking place at night). Each show features medieval-themed entertainment, from jousting and chariot races to bird of prey shows and gladiator duels. You'll also see plenty of lions, horses, fireworks and the nighttime shows feature stunning lighting effects and shows.
As well as the shows you'll find animal exhibits, stunning gardens, historical villages and lots of activities, most of which are aimed at children. The entire park is extremely well managed and the shows are brilliant, and honestly I think the parents will enjoy it just as much as the kids. It's massive though, so I would recommend budgeting 2-3 days to really enjoy everything the park has to offer. You can find more information and book via their website.