Bloodcurdling screams from beyond the trees shatter what would otherwise be a woodland idyll. But after the historically themed Parc Astérix closes its rides for the day, peace re-descends and you can enjoy the peaceful setting of its hotel, Les Trois Hiboux, in the Ermenonville Forest not far north of Paris. Built of wood of glass, it’s an unintrusive addition to the landscape – and private balconies and terraces in all rooms ensure you can enjoy the surroundings after the park has closed and the screams have stopped.
It’s surprisingly stylish too – rooms all have tasteful nature-themed decor, including sections of logs as coffee tables, animal or forest murals and cosy faux-fur throws. If you come with kids, there are also bunk-beds in a cubby hole off the entrance hall, with a door between you and them should you want a bit of parental privacy after they conk out, exhausted from all the fun and fresh air they’ve had.
As with other themepark hotels, you’d here at Les Trois Hiboux primarily to get a bit more time in the park – some packages include two days of ride time. There’s also a pathway from the hotel door to a private themepark entrance for hotel guests, meaning you'll avoid long waits at the main entrance and get to the head of the queues for the big rides when they open, should you so wish. As at most themeparks, you can pay extra for Fast Passes embracing a handful of the more popular rides: Oziris (an inverted rollercoaster), Tonnerre de Zeus (a wooden coaster), Trace du Hourra (a bobsleigh), Menhir Express (a log flume) and Le Grand Splatch (a water ride).
The Hôtel des Trois Hiboux isn’t in the same league as some of the larger themepark hotels, which often have swimming pools or even their own waterparks and other facilities. But it does have entertainment in the form of a magician – very funny, albeit in French only – a games room with a pool table, and a playroom for younger kids. There’s a decent enough buffet restaurant (this said by someone who hates buffets!), but it's run on a prebooked-slot basis, so if you don't check in until late afternoon/early evening, you might find you have to wait up to eat – not ideal with kids. A family meal here will add about another €100 Euros to your bill. However, I thought the sharing platters (and cocktails!) served in the bar looked like a more interesting option for next time.
Inside the park lie the usual fast food kiosks and more buffet restaurants, but the highlight is the waiter-service Restaurant du Lac, in a building clad with giant fruit, vegetables and insects, serving suitably Gallic fare including wild boar burgers, brochettes or terrine. It’s the only sit-down restaurant on the park, but you may decide you’d rather grab food on the hoof in order to make the most of all the attractions. Don’t, whatever you do, miss the shows – Le Match in the Roman Arena is hilarious even if you don’t understand French, especially the energetic dance battle between Galls and Romans. Now there’s something you won’t find at Disney…
Read more about family holidays and breaks in Picardy.