A five-minute train journey from Versailles, in Elancourt, five hectares have been transformed into a miniature France, complete with 116 hyper-realistic models in a 1/30th scale replica. Follow a numbered route through the ramparts of Carcassonne, a small Savoyard village, the Chambord castle, right up until the port of Saint-Tropez. You can even see the TGV crossing the Pont du Gard and Mont-Saint-Michel bathing in the middle of the artificial lake. Not a single French region is forgotten – even Corsica and its rocky expanse is recreated at France Miniature.
With its descriptive, clear labelling, this Lilliputian world manages to be both educational and unusual. To justify the pricey entry fee (€15-21), the trip includes extra activities, including the exploration of a reconstituted Lascaux cave or the remains of an archaeological dig. A telescope helps parents and children admire diminutive pastures and valleys close-up: a boredom buster if ever there was one.
Finally, a walk by Fort Boyard (the same one from the famous gameshow) and a mini theme park to keep your toddlers satisfied. For the first time in their lives, they can get excited about architecture and abbeys. As for the others, they’ll find that even though it looks like it, the Lourdes’ Rosary Basilica looks nothing like the Disneyland castle. But hey, who’s to say it won’t make them want to visit it themselves?
TRANSLATION: MEGAN CARNEGIE