March 10, 2014

Being the mother of three teenagers, I am always on the lookout for exciting activities to do with my family. Theme parks are great, as they keep everyone entertained all day. Now that my kids are slightly older, it gives us a little more freedom when it comes to rides and height restrictions. That said, we still had fun when the children were small, as well.

Being French, I can say with confidence that there are a couple of theme parks in France that aren't to be missed. There are also some great parks with exciting rides and amusements that are worth driving over the border for. Here are some of my highlights of Europe's best theme parks.


Disneyland Paris, France

Top of my list of must-visit theme parks in Europe has got to be Disneyland Paris. Attracting nearly 15 million visitors in 2013, not only is it Europe's most popular theme park, but it is a favourite for people from all over the world. It's not hard to see why, with its varied offering of rides and attractions catering to the whole family.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland Paris

For the adrenaline-junkies, there are the two main big roller coasters to whet your appetite for thrills. Big Thunder Mountain speeds around almost 5000ft of track at over 40mph, in an epic journey through a canyon landscape. Space Mountain is unlike anything else, with its nerve-racking build up to launch, and white-knuckle inversions. These rides are not for the faint of heart.

If you prefer life at a slower pace, you will not be disappointed either. The park itself is huge in size, and has been beautifully landscaped. It's a pleasure simply strolling around taking in the scenery. And don't forget the magical daily parade down Main Street USA that will delight Disney fans both young and old. Disneyland Paris is a firm favourite with my family.

Parc Astérix, France

Much smaller in size, but no less fun to visit is Parc Astérix, just 20 miles from Disneyland and 22 miles from Paris. Based on the stories of Astérix by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny, there is a large variety of attractions at this theme park to keep everyone happy.

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Parc Astérix, France

If you're travelling with young children, you will be kept entertained all day with an array of amusements especially designed for kids younger than six years old including Le Mini Carrousel and Le Petit Train. There are also many different shows and performances on throughout the day to keep you and the little ones happy.

For the older members of your party, and those who don't mind getting a bit wet, I recommend you head straight to the Menhir Express. With whirlpools and water jets to keep you on the edge of your seat, the grand finale is a 42.5ft drop. If you still want more, take a ride on the seven-loop rollercoaster, Goudurix. My kids and I love this one!

Parc du Futuroscope, France

About a three hour drive from Paris along the A10 motorway, through beautiful countryside, lies a truly unique theme park. Parc du Futuroscope is based on themes around multimedia and audio-visual techniques and the 'cinematographic futuroscope'.

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Parc du Futuroscope, France

The attractions and shows here have the perfect balance of fun with an element of discovery and education. All of the amusements will both delight and inspire your whole family. There are several 3D cinemas, and even a few 4D cinemas for a truly unique experience, as well as rides and performances that you won't find anywhere else in the world. You and your kids can try out the Dances with Robots together, or take on the Virus Attack in a race through the human body with flight simulation technology.

In between visiting the various attractions around the park, stop off for a bite to eat at one of the seven themed restaurants. Hit the shops to pick up a couple of souvenirs to remember your fun family day out.

Europa Park, Germany

Head over the France-Germany border near Strasbourg for an adventure-packed day at Europa Park, Germany's largest theme park. With just under 5 million visitors last year, Europa Park is the second most popular theme park in Europe after Disneyland Paris.

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Europa Park, Germany

There are a whopping 54 rides in total, 9 of which are the ever-popular water rides and there are 11 big rollercoasters - enough to keep even the most daring thrill-seekers entertained! One of the most popular and most recent attractions in the park is the Wodan Timbur Coaster, the park's first wooden rollercoaster and a real thrill. There are also plans to unveil a brand new ride for 2014 based on the kid's movie Arthur and the Invisibles.

There are also plans to build a new 33-hectare water park linked with Europa Park. It will be situated just 1km away from the main park, with construction hopefully being completed in the next few years. Europa Park just keeps getting better and better, and is definitely worth a  visit. 

Efteling, Netherlands

If you fancy a trip a little further afield, you'd be hard pushed to a better day out than at Efteling and it's only 3 hours in the car from Calais. Not only is it the largest theme park in the Netherlands, it's also one of the world's oldest in the world.

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Efteling, Netherlands

Efteling opened in 1952 as a nature park with a playground and 'Fairy Tale Forest', and has since evolved into a full-size theme park. Designed to cater to the whole family, there are a variety of rides and amusements to appeal to all ages. With a fantasy theme, attractions play on different 

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