Having just returned from a weekend at France’s second largest theme park, it feels like we have just uncovered one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Chances are you’ve never heard of Parc Astérix, which lies 35 kilometres to the north of Paris, but with an ever-expanding number of attractions it’s definitely time to stop sleeping on this gem.

Currently celebrating its 35th year, the site was voted Best European Park 2023 by the Park World Excellence Awards – and for good reason. Indeed, for those looking for a fun-filled family trip, incredible value for money and some of the most thrilling rides France and Europe has to offer, then this sprawling attraction is more than worth discovering.

Based on the comic book series Asterix, it’s an exhilarating mix of 50 attractions and shows staged across different zones which retrace the adventures of the famous Gaul, with themes such as The Roman Empire, Ancient Greece and Egypt. Within these, the park prides itself on offering something for everyone - from the youngest members of the family to thrill seekers and those after a more leisurely park experience. We certainly found this to be the case.

Still not convinced? Here are seven reasons to forget its more famous counterpart to the east of the French capital and give this fantastical and friendly destination a go instead.

It’s incredibly easy to get to

The first thing we noticed about the park is how convenient its location is. With flights to and from Glasgow Airport to Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) every day during the summer and autumn, and most days out with this period, Parc Astérix is a cinch to get to. The site is just 15 minutes from the airport by car. For those hiring a vehicle, parking is available just a short distance from the park entrance for 20 Euros.

We took a taxi, which can be booked in advance by phoning ahead or emailing taxiduparc@free.fr or taxiplailly@hotmail.fr. There is also a shuttle bus service available every day the park is open, with buses running every 30 minutes to and from CDG.

It's home to a world-record breaking rollercoaster

Named after the Gallic God, Toutatis is the park’s current pièce de résistance and one of seven rollercoasters on-site, each offering a unique ride. Those brave enough to strap in will experience no less than seven forward and backward accelerations at a maximum speed of 110 kilometres per hour – a French record.

Covering more than 1,300 metres of track, the attraction boasts 32 features, including a 51-metre vertical ramp, a 101 degree inclined drop, three inversions and 23  airtimes - a world record for a steel coaster.

Remarkably though, despite these adrenaline-pumping statistics, we found the ride itself to be incredibly smooth, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the thrill without fear of being violently thrown about in the process.

It has an impressive range of rides

While its hair-raising collection of rollercoasters is the main pull for many, the 35th anniversary celebrations also saw the launch of a new thrill ride, “La Tour de Numérobis” in the Egyptian zone. This chair-o-plane attraction raises visitors up 40 metres and rewards those who can handle its dizzying heights with breathtaking panoramic views of the park.  The recently-renovated, pirate-themed water attraction “Le Grand Splatch” and log-flume Menhir Express are also brilliant fun but guaranteed to get you soaked, so invest in a poncho before taking the plunge.

Pegasus ExpressPegasus Express (Image: Parc Asterix)

The park is also home to some unforgettable shows including the first-ever Gaulish musical “C’est du Délire!”, a lively performance of song and dance. We also loved the vibrant Gaulish parade which rides through the park at 4pm everyday led by Asterix and features floats, dancing characters and music.

It’s fantastic for little children

With its host of adrenaline-fuelled rides, Parc Astérix is undoubtedly a paradise for older children, teenagers and the thrill-seeking bigger kids among us. What is surprising though is how well it also caters to younger children. Far from being an after-thought, the park has been designed with them carefully in mind with a whole host of rides and exciting playgrounds aimed directly at this age group.

Perhaps our favourite ride in the whole park was spine-tingling rollercoaster Pégase Express, which fortunately had a height requirement of just one metre-tall. A huge win for my four and half-year old with a burgeoning fear of missing out.

It’s not just a spring and summertime attraction

Now open 218 days of the year, guests have more chance than ever to enjoy the park in all its seasonal glory. From October 5 to November 11, Hallowe’en event Peur Sur Le Parc will make its return and see straw bales, 14 tonnes of pumpkins and scare zones transform the site. A host of frighteningly good themed-attractions will also be on offer during this time, including the parade of monsters, haunted house The Catacombs and a new haunted house in the Egyptian zone.

Gaulish ParadeGaulish Parade (Image: Parc Asterix)

The festive period, meanwhile, will see the park decked out in lights and feature a Gaulish Christmas parade and a Christmas market selling gastronomic delights and original items. There will also be several Christmas shows, featuring acrobats, dancers and magicians, as well as “Santa’s Marvellous Gardens”, offering visitors an immersive experience through three enchanting worlds - The Enchanted Wood, The Frozen Valley and Santa’s Village.

It offers three unique hotel experiences

We loved every minute in the park itself, but our experience was undoubtedly enhanced by our stay in one of the park’s three hotels - all of which are nestled in the lush greenery of the Oise Regional Nature Park and within easy reach of the park on foot. 

Our hotel, La Cité Suspendue was a peaceful haven, built entirely of wood and made up of three “hamlets” linked by footbridges. Our room featured a balcony/terrace, which was perfect for enjoying views of the verdant forest.

A second hotel, Les Trois Hiboux, meanwhile, boasts a cosy lounge with a huge fireplace, a library full of Astérix classics for guests to enjoy, a vast terrace and a playground, while a third, Les Quais de Lutèce, plunges guests into 50 BC Lutetia as depicted in the comic strip with an impressive reconstruction of the River Seine and period buildings.

Foodies will not be disappointed

As I’m sure many of you will agree, fun-filled days and a good night sleep are vital, but the quality of food can often make or break a successful holiday. In this regard, theme parks can often leave a bad taste, but not Parc Astérix. Based on the recommendation of some seasoned visitors, we headed to the park’s Le Restaurant du Lac where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and one of the best burgers we’ve had in a while.

Sofia meeting Asterix at the hotel during breakfastChildren can meet Asterix at the hotel during breakfast (Image: Gillian McPherson)

Also of particular note was the food in our hotel. Breakfast was a delicious spread of pastries, fruit, cheeses, cereal, pancakes, waffles and hot items such as bacon and eggs. An appearance by Asterix and his friends also provided a great photo opportunity.

For dinner, meanwhile, we took full advantage of the hotel’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Billed as a feast worthy of the great banquets of Gaul, it did not disappoint and we loved its superb choice of fresh dishes, including everything from beef and rotisserie chicken to pasta, salad and cheeses. There was even a build your own ice cream sundae station, a huge hit with the kids on the trip.