Four and a Dog

A blog about family life

Le Village des Automates

If ever you find yourselves in Provence with children under the age of ten, or you just fancy going somewhere fabulously bizarre, take yourselves to Le Village des Automates. Here you will find an entire park of moving characters, dancing to an eclectic mix of music, alongside a superb array of adventure playground equipment.

The playground equipment really is in very good condition and includes zip wires, climbing frames, slides, tunnels, ball pit etc. There is also a lovely shaded cafe next to a child sized train that can be ridden for 1 euro. Everything else in the park is deliciously run down with some of the older exhibits housing puppets whose hands now lie decaying on the floor. Much like The Small World Ride in Disney, there are also some fantastic displays of racial stereotyping. All you need do is press a button to watch racially inappropriate puppets dance to strange songs that explain stories about pandas that eat too much bamboo…or something…my French isn’t great. Also, like Disney, there are some interesting liberties taken with traditional stories. Gulliver lounges in the forest whilst being fed by the seven dwarves and Pinocchio meets some unusual characters including a couple of people with dog faces… or maybe they were dogs with human hands…

There were also a couple of displays that I doubt Disney, even on his darkest day, would have thought to include in a Small World. My favourite was a set of elves/gnomes extracting another elf/gnome’s tooth with a piece of string. They all look very happy about the whole thing, even though they are stood next to a bucket of cotton wool stained with, what I hope is, fake blood. If that isn’t enough, there’s also an equally jolly set of elves/gnomes elbow deep in a surgical procedure.

I am not telling you any of this to put you off- far from it! I think this place is perfect for the whole family. Diva and Bruiser absolutely loved it! Bruiser’s favourite was a large furry dragon in Santa’s castle (you remember Santa’s castle right? It’s next to a four legged ant riding the Loch Ness Monster) and Diva pretty much loved it all. She travelled around the park in a Little Tikes car in which the owners had considerately added a floor for her feet and a handle for Grandad and Daddy to push with. She got to eat ice cream and run in a motion activated fountain. My Diva daughter, who regularly declares, “I can’t”, whenever she is faced with any kind of climbing (including stairs), climbed ropes, whizzed around on zip wires and scrambled through tunnels. The adults got to laugh, a lot, eat ice cream and enjoy the enjoyment of the children.

Diva has thanked me for her “adventure” every day and can not wait to go back. For those of you still not sure, look what you could be missing…

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