Vendee. Back in 1978, at the very beginning of the Puy du Fou adventure

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This Friday, August 30 marks the beginning of a new adventure for the Puy du Fou with the premiere of his show in Toledo, Spain. On this occasion, we make a jump in the 1970s, at the beginning of what has become an internationally recognized park.

Puy du fou arrives in Spain. This Friday, August 30, the famous park will offer the premiere of his show The dream of Toledo, in Toledo. Inescapable in France, the institution poses the first act of export abroad to develop.

A new stage that gives us the opportunity to return to the very beginning of the adventure, in 1978. There, in the bocage Vendée, was born by force of volunteers, a great show on the Vendée.

"We need more than a show"

In October 1977, in the columns ofWest France, an insert calls out: "Information meeting on sound and light at Le Puy du Fou". Inside, a reminder is first made about the attachment of Puy du Fou to his "Folklore, its history and its popular traditions, its history, its art, its popular traditions".

The information meeting aims to present sound and light, "A unique opportunity for all inhabitants of Haute-Vienne", which will be held "On the vast natural park of the Puy du Fou castle for the summer of 1978". The goal, economic benefits, scenic and pyrotechnic devices, everything will be presented by Philippe de Villiers. "We will hurry to the doors of the rural home in Epesses, because if we press more than a show, we are eager to the event, launches the communiqué which flaps the troops.

The inhabitants of the Epesses and surrounding communities are invited to an information meeting for a mysterious show at Puy du Fou. | WEST FRANCE

In the park of the castle, then bought by the department for 750 000 F, the first sparks sparkle at the end of 1977. " The countdown has begun ", title West France December 5th. In front of a parterre of personalities, the first paintings of Tonight, the Vendée, title of this ancestor of the Cinéscénie, are unveiled in preview.

A starting point "

The opportunity for Philippe de Villiers to explain the reasons that led him to imagine this show: "The show will allow a rescue of the oral tradition of events. It will ultimately be the essential expression of a global project. It is the starting point of a research that will lead in the coming years to the establishment of an eco-museum, a real conservatory of arts and popular traditions. "

The article then highlights the volunteerism that governs this creation. 350 extras, but a thousand volunteers from the Pays du Puy du Fou (equivalent of the canton of Herbiers), will be mobilized. "The importance of the extras is crucial. They will be living witnesses of history and will endorse the local dimension of achievement ", comments West France.

Ceson and light is "A challenge to the following three statements, comments Philippe de Villiers: nothing can be done outside Paris without paying people and without images of Épinal ". In the night of winter 1977 "In spite of the icy wind, hundreds of people gathered in front of the 5-hectare pond that overlooks the castle. For several minutes the spectators were able to listen to a sequence of the scenario and witness the blaze of Puy-du-Fou, thanks to the ultramodern techniques which will benefit the sound and light ", recounts West France.

The demonstration clearly appealed, participants thinking that the show could become an asset for green tourism in the grove.

Success

"The sound and light is starting to be a success. " Monday, June 19, 1978, West France reports the first of Tonight the Vendee, whose theme is Vendée history, which took place on the previous Friday. "Certainly it was not forbidden to be skeptical of the ambition of Philippe de Villiers and his friends. But, from the outset, doubts have been raised ", writes our colleague. The quality of the text, "Who knows how to be grandiose without being grandiloquent" just like the grandeur of the scene that requires a "Good visual acuity" to savor the beauty of the decorations are evoked. This first, held in front of all Whos who sells and 3,000 people, opens under the best auspices. "The organizers were counting on 30,000 entries during the season. This figure should be reached without difficulty since we have exceeded 10,000 reservations ", announces the reporter.

The day of the premiere of sound and light Puy du Fou, Ouest-France publishes photos of the dress rehearsal. | WEST FRANCE

For anecdote, West France reports: "The spectators may not have noticed that the men-at-arms were helpless the order from Germany is blocked at the customs. "

A balance sheet beyond expectations

The next general meeting, the success envisaged is confirmed. The 30,000 spectators are largely overwhelmed. "We will probably reach the figure of 80,000 after 19 nights," recounts West France. One thing is already recorded, there will be a second year.

With two million francs in receipts and 1.5 million expenses, the show already generates profits that will be reinvested for the defense of heritage. Because, already, Philippe de Villiers has an idea for the future of his Puy du Fou: "Our goal is not to make Puy du Fou a leisure center. The Puy du Fou has a cultural vocation, an ecomuseum will be there. I find it more stimulating to preserve the heritage of the Pays du Puy du Fou than to make the heyday of the consumer society. "

We are in July 1978 and at that time the Puyfolais regretted that it was "Very difficult to interest the Parisian press".

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Vendee. Back in 1978, at the very beginning of the Puy du Fou adventureOuest-France.fr



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