“In the morning, we have everything that is general education, so mathematics, French, all that. And in the afternoon, we have the options. So in Second, it’s fight-stunt, dance, horse riding and theatre”, explains Timéo Corby, one of the 297 students educated here, from kindergarten to high school.
“We learn everything about parades in combat, attacks”, lists the teenager who swapped the red and blue tie of rigor during his French course on baroque poetry for shorts and fake wooden swords.
The training takes place in a naval battle setting, and not far from there, other comrades who are part of the first promotion of 42 high school students – after the opening of the primary school in 2015 and the college in 2018 — learn horse riding.
Focused on athletic white horses with impeccable manes, they barely seem to hear the epic music playing in the amusement park, one of the busiest in France, with 2.3 million visitors in 2019.
“Our students are included in the Puy du Fou shows, so that’s an incredible opportunity for them”, underlines François Roucher, the director of the establishment, who begins in Vendée after having directed the preparatory classes of the Stanislas College in Paris.
– Mandatory uniform –
The establishment, non-denominational, requires the wearing of white tops and navy blue pants or mid-length skirts, and the students begin each week with a ceremony of raising the colors: French flag and flag of Puy du Fou.
“We want our students to forge an identity and a character by knowing where they come from culturally,” says the director, for whom this school is “above all 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 disseminate “political messages very marked on the right”.
During the presidential election, the former Reconquête! candidate, Eric Zemmour, had received the support of the park’s founder, Philippe de Villiers.
“I arrive in the school just after Puy du Faux so the controversies are there and as a History teacher, I obviously macerated and worked on this”, advances Marc de Massia, freshly hired and sporting on his jacket the diamond coat of arms which also adorns the school’s pediment.
The park and the school are “two different entities”, he assures, believing that “if children leave my course knowing what I think ideologically, knowing what I vote, I am committing professional misconduct” .
– “Not out of frame” –
“The Puy du Fou academy has new premises allowing it to open a high school”, indicates the rectorate of the Nantes Academy, specifying that in Vendée, 0.69% of pupils in 1st and 2nd degrees are educated in private institutions without contract.
“We are a private establishment outside the contract (…) For me it is obviously not out of scope”, argues François Roucher, who says he prepares students for the patent and the baccalaureate by wishing that they can choose “all types of ‘orientations’, not only in artistic fields.
The school, located in the countryside, is made up of low buildings covered with red tiles. In the entrance hall sits a bust of Joan of Arc.
“When you go to Puy du Fou, you are part of a family,” says Maeva Léger, in the same class as Timéo, who convinced his parents and his little brother to move from the Var to follow this atypical course.
Tuition fees are 950 euros per year in primary school, 1,950 in middle school and 2,400 in high school. “What is expensive are the extras: the canteen, the host family, the journeys to come and see his family on the weekend”, describes Edith Fortin, a Rennes woman whose son is in 4th grade.