The origin of the Parc Saint Paul theme park dates back to 1978 when a small excursion destination with pony rides, boat hire and a restaurant was created on the outskirts of the village of Saint-Paul. Five years later the showman André Campion bought the site. He put a good twenty rides in the park and christened it by its now well-known name. In 1999 his son Gilles Campion took over the business. He then developed the park into a theme park. Where previously you could enter the park for free and had to pay for individual attractions, henceforth there was a uniform admission price. In the following year the Wild Train, the park’s first roller coaster, was launched. Since then, the amusement park has been characterised by an interesting selection of rides without neglecting its main target group: families with small children.
On the way to the entrance we already notice a number of children’s carousels and family-friendly rides. Most of these are from the SBF Visa Group and are of recent production. But the real attraction in this area is the staff, who not only control the entrance, but who are also available for photos. In the beginning I thought the staff was on stilts, but I was surprised to meet 2m20 tall people. One of them is Monsieur Brahim Takioullah, with 2m46 the second largest person in the world.
The first roller coaster on our round course is the Aérotrain. This roller coaster from Vekoma was previously located in a shopping centre in Portugal, where it was operated as Montanha Russa until 2013. Thanks to its location and the resulting course above the visitors, the coaster is quite high. Fortunately, Gilles Campion was looking for a kind of monorail for the Parc Saint Paul, so that it could also be viewed from above, when Cedeal Rides presented him with this used ride as a proposal.
The ride on the Aérotrain begins with a short left-hand bend where the friction wheel lift joins the ride. Once you reach a height of 11m, you descend immediately. The short descent immediately changes into a left-hand bend followed by a right-hand helix. Over a very long left-hand bend we slowly increase in height again, before we reduce it again in another helix. After a longer straight line there is only a short left turn before we reach the station again. Another lap follows before the ride ends.
Even if the Aérotrain is not as fast as the air-cushion train that gave it its name, the ride is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The ride is generally shallower than most roller skaters, making it an ideal entry-level roller coaster for the smallest park guests.
The Arche de Noé, a swing boat made by Metallbau Emmeln, is a little more exciting. This was designed to match the theme, which is why you can discover numerous animal sculptures on and around the ride. The ride itself is also very convincing with its smaller airtime moments.
Just as convincing is the Aqua Splash dinghy slide from the same manufacturer right next door. Meanwhile, we follow the path along the large lake, where some of the park’s pedal boats and the Mississippi steamship are located. Passing numerous playgrounds and a trampoline hall we reach the second roller coaster on our loop.
Mini-Mouse Cartoon is a very family-friendly roller coaster where a train is pushed through a series of hairpin curves. On the connecting straights there are also smaller hills, similar to those of a Wacky Worms, which loosen up the ride a bit. The ride itself, however, is very gentle. Depending on the rush you make several laps through the layout.
Right next door is the Téléphérique, a seemingly harmless rail-guided cable car. But appearances are deceptive, because if you have had the idea of riding the ride with a backpack on your back, the centrifugal forces take over and you have to hold on tightly to avoid falling down. A very interesting play equipment and an even more interesting grey zone count.
After I missed the Crazy House built by Preston & Barbieri in the Japanese amusement park Yomiuriland and in the Italian Mirabilandia due to a lack of language skills, I could finally test this bizarre ride. But the jokes and special effects of the Maison Foldingue are not really worth mentioning, as well as the ride’s sequence. A bizarre idea that will certainly go down well with children.
Just like the children’s song of the Souris Verte. In the Parc Saint Paul, however, the green mouse embodies a spinning coaster made by Zamperla. Unfortunately, the ride through the familiar layout does not involve a major rotation of the gondola.
Since the Wild Train roller coaster lacked the train, I unfortunately could not test this roller coaster. But next door there is another product of the former Russian company Pax, the Tour Descente Extrême, which was just waiting to be tested. The 40m high freefall tower offers a very bizarre ride, because before you can fall you are pulled forever through the magnetic brake, which takes up about half of the tower. Because of this circumstance, the braking is also extremely rough. Ça me plait beaucoup! With the best will in the world I didn’t expect such a fall coming from Pax, it is grandiose. However, the ride itself takes its time, so it’s no wonder that you can’t find so many tower rides made by Pax.
Much more common, however, are roller coasters of the Big Apple type, also known as La Pomme in France. The local one comes from the Turkish company DAL Amusement Rides Company. One of the most striking features of this ride is its very present and inviting decoration, which adds a lot to the ride.
Past the Grande Roue Ferris wheel and the P’tits Lapins, we are now drawn to the rear of the park. In a mansion and its forecourt, we find many shops, the main gastronomy of the Parc Saint Paul, as well as the place of the wave swinger Chaises Aériennes, which was not yet set up at the time of our visit.
Of the four walkthroughs Château Hanté is the most convincing. With its huge collection of animatronics and absolute darkness it is more frightening than many ghost trains in Germany. The Parcours 3D, on the other hand, is too short to really notice it. The Miroirs Magiques mirror cabinet and the crooked house Toi aussi deviens un Géant complete the offer.
Right next door is the elaborately designed log flume Dino Splash by the manufacturer Interlink. Even the queue of the ride is surprisingly appealing and gives hope for an exciting ride.
The ride begins quite quickly with the ascent of the first lift hill. At the top we roll through a narrow left turn, before the first shot is already waiting. Over a striking double drop we descend at high speed and with shallow airtime. Well soaked we race through the run-out section before we are braked a little in the following right turn. Over a straight with some white water and a waterfall on the left hand side we are now heading for the second lift. This takes us up to 11m, whereupon a right turn follows. Shortly after that we descend the second shot with its significant dinosaur back wheel. Here we will get a proper shower, whereupon we spend the rest of the ride completely soaked. After a longer straight line past the front we reach the station of the ride and get out of this really great log flume happy and satisfied.
While wood for the Wood Express roller coaster was stored in the Teen’s Party hall, park guests romped around on bumper cars, a carpet slide and the Music Express Safari Trip. The latter offers a really nice ride due to its forward and backward ride. What’s unpleasant, however, is that the carpet slide seems to be free of fools; here the park audience showed its most unpleasant side. In general, I noticed this rather negatively during the whole day, as especially a Moroccan family and birthday group really misbehaved and had to be constantly rejected by the park staff – who really acted exemplary.
In general, the staff at Parc Saint Paul is very friendly. For example, when I got stuck in the lift of the roller coaster Formule 1, as the ride unexpectedly had an emergency stop, they informed me about every step until the ride was running again. Even after the ride they apologised for the inconvenience and brought me my rucksack, because in this case I had to leave the car in the actual exit area and not in the station.
The ride on the somewhat different Wild Mouse Formule 1 from the manufacturer Pax begins with a very, very steep ascent, which is immediately followed by a pronounced pre-drop. Quite quickly we race through a hollow before we start the big shot ride. Over a narrow hilltop we shoot towards the ground and are lifted unexpectedly out of our seats. Over an extremely airy double-up we are then lifted up again. Following a narrow curve, the first block brake is already waiting for us.
Now the hairpin bends follow. These, however, also have a very special feature to offer. The entrance to these is always inclined outwards, while the exit is inclined inwards. A pretty wacky affair. After a total of five bends this section is over again and we enter (still inclined outwards) a U-turn. This is followed by several ups and downs, which once again lift you out of your seat. After another block area the ride becomes a bit more leisurely and so we drive across the ride with several right/left swivels. After a longer right bend, the ramp then joins the braking section. After passing through the exit area, you will reach the station shortly after and can get off the car.
The ride built by Pax was the reason for me to go to Parc Saint Paul some time ago. As there are rumours that the ride will be closed soon, a visit was unavoidable. I didn’t care if the wooden coaster Wood Express would open sometime during the season. Pax comes first. As expected the ride on Formule 1 is brute, bizarre and superb. The airtime on the ride is unparalleled and the mouse curves are simply brilliant. A really beautiful and interesting ride.
Parc Saint Paul is a very strange amusement park. It seems conceptless and gossipy. On the other hand, however, it offers many interesting rides that are not often found in this abundance. Only the rides built by Pax are worth a visit. But I doubt whether I want to go back to the park so quickly. As the only park of my trip, the park could not really convince me. This was mainly due to its rather antisocial audience.
What are your thoughts about the French theme park Parc Saint Paul and its legendary roller coaster Formule 1? Just write it here in the comment field below the report or visit our social media channels: