AFP, published on Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 08:11
Arms crossed and legs outstretched, the students throw themselves one by one onto a huge cushion filled with air: it is the acrobatics class at the “Puy du Fou Académie”, a private institute without a contract that has just opened its doors in Behind the scenes of the Parc de la Vendée.
“In the morning we have everything that is general education, like math, French, all that. And in the afternoon we have the options. So in Segunda it’s wrestling-acrobatics, dancing, horse riding and theater”, explains Timéo Corby, one of the 297 students educated here, from kindergarten to high school.
“We learn everything about parades in combat, attacks,” enumerates the teenager who exchanged the obligatory red and blue tie during his baroque poetry French course for shorts and fake wooden swords.
The training takes place in a naval battle arena, and not far from there, other classmates who are part of the first class of 42 high school students -after the opening of the primary school in 2015 and the university in 2018- learn to ride a horse
Centered on athletic white horses with impeccable manes, they barely seem to listen to the epic music that plays in the amusement park, one of the busiest in France, with 2.3 million visitors in 2019.
“Our students are integrated into the Puy du Fou shows, so it is an incredible opportunity for them”, emphasizes François Roucher, director of the establishment, who starts in Vendée after having directed preparatory classes at Stanislas College in Paris.
– Mandatory uniform –
The non-denominational establishment requires the use of white blouses and navy blue trousers or a miniskirt, and the students begin each week with a ceremony to raise the colors: the French flag and the Puy du Fou flag.
“We want our students to forge an identity and a character knowing where they come from culturally,” says the director, for whom this school “above all is not a political instrument.”
In “Le Puy du Faux”, a book published at the end of March, four historians accused the park of using “old historical clichés” to spread “political messages strongly marked by the right”.
During the presidential elections, the former Reconquête! candidate, Eric Zemmour, had received the support of the park’s founder, Philippe de Villiers.
“I arrive at school just after the + Puy du Faux +, so the controversies are there and as a History teacher, I obviously macerated and worked on this”, advances Marc de Massia, recently hired and wearing the shield on his jacket. with diamonds that also adorns the pediment of the school.
The park and the school are “two different entities,” he says, considering that “if the children leave my class knowing what I think ideologically, knowing what I vote for, I am committing a professional fault.”
– ‘Not out of frame’ –
“The Puy du Fou academy has new facilities that will allow it to open a secondary school”, indicates the rectorate of the Nantes Academy, specifying that in Vendée, 0.69% of 1st and 2nd grade students are educated in private establishments without contract.
“We are a private establishment outside the contract (…) For me it is obviously not out of reach,” argues François Roucher, who says preparing students for the patent and the baccalaureate by hoping that they can choose “all kinds of ‘orientations’ , not only in the artistic fields.
The school, located in the countryside, is made up of low buildings covered with red tiles. In the entrance hall there is a bust of Joan of Arc.
“When you go to the Puy du Fou, you are part of a family,” says Maeva Léger, from the same class as Timéo, who convinced her parents and little brother to move from the Var to follow this atypical course.
Tuition fees are 950 euros per year in primary, 1,950 in secondary and 2,400 in secondary. “What costs are the extras: the dining room, the host family, the trips to come and see her family on the weekend,” describes Edith Fortin, a Renense whose son is in 4th grade.