Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Picture this: Paris, summer, happiness, much good food, reading (all those bookstores!), and…city crowds? If you’re a bit tired of the city (and even with Paris, this is possible) and you’ve already visited Versailles, Normandy, and Giverny, there are several unusual and adventurous one day excursions from Paris – easily doable, within a short drive, and full of fun. If you and your family need a break from castles, monuments, and attractions, then it’s time for a short road trip to a day of adventure, with roller coasters, fireworks, and, well, France!

Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


Let’s get right to the fun, shall we? Especially if you have kids, theme parks should be first on your list for day excursions from Paris. There’s that global phenomenon (with a French twist), but there are also ten other interesting theme parks worth visiting.

The Big One: Paris Disneyland

Of course, there’s Paris Disneylandread all our tips here. There are five main areas to explore in Disneyland Park: Main Street, USA, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland; Walt Disney Studios Park includes Disney Studios, Toon Studio, Backlot, Frontlot, Production Courtyard, and Toy Story Playland.

How to get there: Located just west of Paris. Take the E50.

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Parc Astérix

Parc Astérix is an unusual and very French theme park – that of a crazy, historical adventure – with roller coasters, water rides, shows, rides for kids, and attractions laced with Gallic humor. As the website notes, “Astérix remains your guide during this incredible adventure during which he invites visitors to meet in turn a wide range of heroes who each made their mark on history: Roman legionaries, the great Caesar, Zeus, Icarus and the Hydra of Lerne, Marcel the intrepid painter in love with the Mona Lisa, not forgetting the Gauls and this year, the arrival of the Egyptians…Without losing their sense of humour or ability to laugh at themselves, visitors experience as a family here what they cannot find elsewhere: the true essence of Gallic spirit.”
How to get there: Take the A1 north from Paris – it’s about 30 km. There’s a direct exit to the Parc – it’s between exits 7 and 8. There are also buses and trains from Paris.

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Goudurix - roller coaster at Parc Asterix.  From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


L'Île de Robinson

Located on the western outskirts of Paris, this indoor amusement park is based on the story of Robinson Crusoe, so load up your audiobooks on the flight over to prepare. The park is aimed at the 4-12 crowd, with toddler playroom for younger kids. The fun starts off in York (as Robinson set off on his own journey). Then head to the Île de Robinson, where there are games to play and adventures to be had. If there’s a rainy day in Paris, and your kids are getting squirrely, this is a perfect half-day indoor adventure.

How to get there: In Montreuil. From Paris, take the N302 west, or take the Metro line 9: Croix de Chavaux. 

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L'Île de Robinson.  From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


La Mer de Sable

This adventure park is ideal for kids 10 and under. There are three main areas to explore – the jungle, desert, and wild wild west. There are rides galore (including water rides), small roller coasters, animals, zip lines, climbing walls, horseback riding, and shows. Themed restaurants complete the experience. 

How to get there: 45 minutes by car – take A1 north to exit 7.

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La Mer de Sable. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


France Miniature

Located 25 km west of Paris, near Versailles, this is an outdoor park like no other. It displays, in miniature (on a scale of 1:30), the 6 major regions in France, with more than 117 monuments and 2,000 models. There are also many rides, learning displays, mini cars, and a climbing wall. It’s interactive, highly visual, and extremely interesting! Get ready to walk around France!

How to get there: Take the A13, then the a12, then the N12.

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France Miniature. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


Une Journée au Cirque

Located just north of Paris, just above the Parc des Chanteraines, Une Journée au Cirque has a dual purpose. You can attend the circus, OR you can take a circus arts workshop, have lunch with artists, and then attend the circus. Note: reservations are needed, and are available only on certain dates. Plan your trip around this, if your kid is totally into circuses and performing!

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Une Journée au Cirque. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


Thoiry Chateau and Wildlife Park

The Thoiry Chateau and Wildlife Park features both a chateau and one of Europe’s first animal preserves. You can drive the safari park trail and visit the zoo to see all kinds of wild animals, including zebras, Siberian lynx, bears, and more. Once you’re done with the outside stuff, head into the chateau to immerse yourself in French history. 
35 minutes west of Paris.

How to get there: Take the A13 from Port d’Auteuil, then the A12, then the N12. Take the exit for Thoiry, follow the D76 and then the D11.

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Croc! Thoiry Chateau and Wildlife Park. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


Puy du Fou

Worth the three hour drive from Paris, this park was named Best Theme Park in the World in 2012, World’s Best Park in 2014, and is the fourth most popular attraction in France after Disneyland Paris. What do you do here? Time travel! At Puy du Fou, you can experience a wide variety of historical periods, including ancient Rome, Vikings, 17th century Musketeers, WWI, and more. You’ll see shows, jousting, falconry, historic villages, nature, and more. Make time, though, for the world’s biggest evening show: the Cinéscénie. You’ll see 1,200 actors (24,000 costumes!), 3D effects, water fountains, fireworks, and special lighting make this medieval pageant a global hit. Be sure to make reservations as soon as you know you’re going to Paris – the show sells out months in advance.

How to get there: Take the E50 west from Paris to LeMans, then the A11/A87 southwest to Puy du Fou.

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Puy du Fou. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris

Puy du Fou.  From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris


Parc Festyland

If your kids love history (and make their own coat of arms, build castles, and do a lot of swordplay), Festyland is for your family. There are five areas, all with a historical theme: prehistory, Vikings, 1066 (Magna Carta – your kids will remind you of the details, if they are anything like mine), pirates, and the 20th century. The main adventurous attraction is a 59 second roller coaster, although you can also play bumper boats, head down a new water slide, ride major rides or ones for smaller kids, watch live shows, or see the cinema. Note: this is a much smaller, friendlier park than the big ones. If you have littles, this could be a good option.

How to get there: Located 151 miles from Paris. Take the A14, then the E5 northwest to Caen. 

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If your family loves big coasters, this park is for you. There are four coasters, ranging from 90km an hour to 15 km/hr. You can also climb trees, ride a pirate ship, do a swing ride, hit the water rides, or enjoy other typical amusement park attractions, such as shows and fireworks. New this year is Dino World.

How to get there: Located 322 km west of Paris, so a bit of a drive, but worth it if your kids are roller coaster aficionados. Take the E50 past Reims to Metz.

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Walygator.  From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris



At 328km away from Paris, Futuroscope might be a stretch unless your kids LOVE films and multimedia. Then, it’s all hands on deck. You’ll experience several 3D and 4D cinemas. There are shows, thrill rides, interactive exhibits, and even some Raving Rabbids. My favorite? Deep Sea, Mission Hubble, and The Machines of da Vinci. Yep.

How to get there: Go southwest to Orleans, Tours, and then Poitiers. You can also take the TGV

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Futuroscope. From Love Theme Parks? Unusual 1 day excursions from Paris







Photos courtesy creative commons:
Word photo at Parc Asterix: Maliboy, adapted by Wandering Educators
Paris Disneyland/Disney Village: HumMelissa_Glee
Parc Astérix: cnb
L'Île de Robinson: L'Île de Robinson
La Mer de Sable: Christophe ALARY
France Miniature: Frédéric BISSON
Une Journée au Cirque: Une Journée au Cirque
Thoiry: Vassil
Walygator: Jony54 
Futuroscope: Denis Laming