As a child, I always experienced a visit to a theme park as a big party. It was something that we certainly didn’t do regularly. It had to stay special and a surprise. And that’s how it felt when my parents drove two rounds at the roundabout before they turned off towards the park with fun attractions. Upon arrival my brother, sister and me got always so excited at the back seat. Of course my parents did it for us and just enjoyed it a lot when they saw us happily walking through the park.
After all these years I’m a mother myself and I have experienced that Lara is more than aware of the phenomenon ‘theme park‘. Like last week when we were in France, we had promised her a day to go to Parc Bagatelle. A popular theme park in Northern France, where I have been a few times when I was a child. I was very curious to what extent the park had remain the same and what feeling it would evoke to me while walking through it. But the most I was looking forward to watch my daughter having a lot of fun.
Parc Bagatelle, opened since 1955, is a short hour drive from the port of Calais and is practically next to the seaside town of Merlimont. The park is easy to reach and has a large parking lot where you can park your car for € 5, -. From here you can easily continue on foot via the tunnel to the entrance of the park. The prices differ by only € 1, – in high season compared to the late season. An adult pays € 25.50 and children up to 1.45m € 19.90. Children under 1m are free. If you regularly want to visit the park, you can also buy a so-called Baggy pass for € 69, – which gives you unlimited access throughout the year.
Of course I already had a look at the map online and recognized many attractions that have remained for years. At the same time I also saw some new ones. There are quite a few attractions in the park, about forty. If you want to try them all, you have to take the whole day. But maybe it is feasible. On a hot summer day during the school holidays it can be busier than normal, but even then you don’t have to stand in the row for a long time. Perhaps only for very popular attractions such as Le River Splatch and Le Gaz’Express.
We decided to let our daughter choose what she wanted to do. After all, we were there for her and not for ourselves. And to be honest, I didn’t feel the need to go in one of the faster attractions either. Although I used to think very differently about that when I was a teenager, it couldn’t go faster and often enough to me.
You can say that Bagatelle is definitely a family park, there is plenty to do for all ages. You can find exciting attractions like roller coasters and big swinging things, splash trips for those who do not mind getting wet (tip: bring dry pants for kids), fun attractions such as the paddle boats and carousel, and fully equipped areas with attractions for the little ones. You can imagine that we spent most of the time at that part of the park.
Something I also did remember of Bagatelle, was the big circus tent. When we visited Bagatelle years ago, we always enjoyed the grandiose circus show with great pleasure. The tent is still there, but the circus act had been gone unfortunately. Nowadays you can enjoy a magic show twice a day. In te beginning I wasn’t sure if that would be much as fun as the circus act, but I have to say in the end it was quite spectacular. Especially the interaction with the audience made it very fun and exciting.
As far as food is concerned I would say, don’t expect too much of it. There are plenty of snack bars available, where you can order fries, sausages and hamburgers. But it’s not really healthy and of good quality. I understand very well why many parents bring a well-filled backpack with food and drinks to these places. There are plenty of picnic facilities in the park that you can use.
In the end it was very nice to visit Bagatelle again after all these years. While walking through the park I remembered a lot of the place and it was so lovely to share this with my own daughter who visibly enjoyed everything she saw. This theme park may not be extremely big and over the top with flashy attractions, but still offers plenty of variety and fun for the whole family. If you are on holiday with children in Pas de Calais and you want to vary your program a bit, then a visit to this park is definitely worth it.