A French Minibreak

Having a free weekend in my calendar just won't do, so seeing one last weekend we saw straight to it and booked up a little excursion into France to visit a few parks and see some friends.

We got up at gross o'clock on Saturday morning and caught the (mega cheap) ferry from Dover to Calais where we whiled away the time by 'lounging around' on a sofa, much to the disgust of another passenger, who was clearly jealous she hadn't managed to nab a sofa for herself to lounge around on.

First up we headed to Dennlys Parc, a small park about 45 mins from Calais, with the help of Google Maps courtesy of 3's Home Away From Home service that lets you use your normal phone package with no extra cost! We ended up arriving a few minutes before opening so had to hang around the cute little courtyard entrance before making our way in.

I wanted to head straight for the 'big' coaster - a Mobius (where the coaster has two tracks but the train ends up at he opposite station to the one it departed from) cred called Nitro, but it wasn't open yet so we headed to the mine train, Furio. As mine trains go, it was Soquet (coaster joke). It's really picturesque though so despite being a bit boring at least it can sit there and look pretty.

Next up was the New For 2015 coaster Voltigo, which is one of those spinning family coasters that are popping up everywhere. It was very cute and the spinning coasters make a bland ride into a coaster that all of the family can enjoy.

Opposite was a terrifying haunted house walk through thing that was so dark I had to illuminate our path with some artificial iPhone torchlight, only to reveal a bloody great WELL in the middle of the room! So dangerous XD

The big coaster still wasn't open so we filled our time with the cute tractor ride, faffing with some interactive water stuff and a weird spinning barn flat ride operated by a demonic horse.

Then finally we saw a train go around on Nitro so we joined the queue. I figured we'd have to get off and queue again to get the other side done but it sends you around twice, hooray! It's fun, some nice floaty airtime but the pinched in transitions lead to some brutal slamming of the trains so its not terribly rerideable. Cool concept though!

We wanted to grab a magnet from the tat shop but it was closed due to a staff meeting, which was a shame because some of it looked quite fab! Oh well.

After just an hour and a half at Dennlys Parc it was time to say goodbye and head to our second destination of the day, Bagatelle. I had visited this park once before with school when they lied to us and said we were going to Parc Asterix, so my memory of the place was a little bit tainted. We used our Plopsa Annual Passes for a nice 40% off of entry and wandered in, but not before noticing a sign stating that Triops, the Vekoma Inverted Boomerang, was 'fermé'. Balls. What is it with these coasters?! I've never once been to a park that has one where it has been operating. Spite.

Bagatelle had 2 New For 2015 coasters, the first of which was a Wacky Worm whose budget had apparently only allowed for one section of the track to be painted. Either that or they're waiting until 2016 to finish it and can then market the ride as newly refurbished for 2016! I'm blabbering on because it was an unremarkable +1.

The park itself is a lot prettier than I remember it being, lots of trees and a real holiday camp in the woods feel, a lot like Duinrell in the Netherlands, which was a pleasant surprise as my memory of the place are of it being a bit more of a concrete paradise.

We grabbed some lunch in the European theme park style (tray, load up with salad, drink, bread, whatever, choose menu number, get hot food with loads of mayo, eat) before knocking off the creds. 

The park has a couple of Soquet creds, one is themed to a crab in a tornado(?) and the other is Gaz Express which is really fab and has loads of fire/water effects and has a really loud colour scheme. There's even a bit where you get 'submerged' and are surrounded by fountains! Like all Soquet coasters, it's not the best ride in the world but it just looks pretty. Must be something about the track shape that I find pleasing to the eye.

Some parts of the park have made a bit more of an effort with theming, like the rapids (avec whirlpool of doom) and the pirate ship. A little rockwork goes a long way in my opinion and can make a whole area feel so much more attractive and immersive thematically. Whilst queueing for the pirate ship we caught a bit of the diving stunt show, which had the most unenthusiastic man-seting-himself-on-fire bit I've ever seen XD. 

We walked through the inverted boomerang of spite back around to the other New For 2015 coaster, the tarted up Spinning Wild Mouse. I like it when smaller parks get a bit of money and provide some TLC to their older attractions, and Famous Jack does looks quite well for a lick of paint and a few wooden fences from B&Q. However it is still a Spinning Wild Mouse, a fact I found hard to forget as I joined the 30 minute queue. Not the end of the world, it's not like we had anything else to be getting on with! 

After grabbing a few rerides on the better attractions we made our way back to the car, realising it was stills really early! We got to our hotel in Amiens and headed into the picturesque town centre for some alfresco dining and culture.

That's it for Part 1, Part 2 coming soon featuring a hideously packed Parc Saint Paul, a fleeting visit to Disneyland and a revisit to Parc Asterix!