Express, Parc Asterix
Standing stones, or
menhirs, are an archaeological phenomenon. Each stone weighs around five
tons, yet historical sites such as Stone Henge prove that despite not
having low-back lorries and JCBs, the ancients managed to create many
wonders of the world.
So how did these people move such objects? The Gaelic park
just north of Paris, Parc Asterix, likes to think that a courier company
in the dark ages specialised in moving such stones through channels of
water. Menhir Express shuns away from the old-school log flume (brought
about by a similar concept of moving logs along rivers) and was one of
the first flume rides to actually have an original theme.
And so the park managed to continue the quality of theming
into one of the best themed rides in the park, Menhir Express.
As a ride, Hopkins, a French manufacturer who is probably
the market leader in getting you wet whilst you’re still fully
clothed, crafted Menhir Express. During the manufacture of it, though, a
fire at a neighbouring factory damaged parts of Menhir Express causing a
moderate delay in the delivery of the ride.
On the side of a rich-blue lake, a wooden framed thatched
building house what has to be the most impressive flume stations this
side of Islands of Adventure. Towards the back of the lake, one lift
disappears into the distance, whilst supported by a rather rickety
wooden latticework of supports the final steep drop hits the lake with
perfectly engineered precision.
The queue starts up a staircase outside this golden-brown
building, before crossing a long covered balcony walkway along the
To your left, through some windows you look down on a
themed gift shop selling little more than the usual collection of
branded merchandise. Hanging from the ceiling, gift-wrapped menhir
stones await delivery to various locations.
The queue soon goes inside and passes through a storeroom
with wooden crates and boxes labelled up with addresses, before going
downstairs and around the edge of the lake into which the final drop
splashes down. The station is large and well designed. After queuing its
length, you then approach the line of ‘rocks’ in which you will soon
The boats are well themed, all appearing to be standing
stones with wood tied around the bottom to help float this most atypical
conveyance. Each is a slightly different shade of brown, beige or grey.
The boats are what you would expect on a normal log flume,
comfortably seating four or five adults on a bench, separated halfway
with a seat back. Once seated, the boat approaches
the end of the
conveyor before dipping down into the dark blue water.
After turning slightly to the left, you begin the first
lift that runs in the opposite direction parallel to the final drop.
This lift is about 35-foot tall, and once you are at the top, you hit
the first run of water.
Meandering quickly at tree height, you slalom violently
through the woodland that resides behind the main portion of the ride.
As you weave throughout the oak trees, you do so a fair rate, and with a
leftwards bend, the water will rebound off the side and slosh into your
boat, something you rarely expect on a log flume.
You approach a wooden building, which you soon enter. You
slow slightly, and before your eyes can reacquaint to the darkness, you
are hastily thrown into a smooth and prompt downward drop, and just as
you expect a splash of water, you’re smoothly pulled back up into a
roller coaster-style camel back before dropping once again into the
Breath taken, you go outside, this time at ground level,
before going into another building. As you do so, a revolving tunnel
envelops the boat, and as it turns you really start to wonder whether it
is the boat listing to the side. As you leave this stunning feature, you
turn to the right under a long tunnel of water created by fountains
outside once again.
No sooner are you outside you begin an ascent up to the
final drop. You can see boats to your right on the initial stretch
before the roller coaster drop and as you get to the top, you turn to
the right before you are thrown into a sharp, single downward drop.
You lean forwards as the drop steepens before you pull out,
skim the water for what seems an eternity before the boat slows and
pushes a wave of water out the sides and sloshing back into the boat.
With legs soaked, the boat turns the final 180-degree turn
back into the station. You leave to the left hand side, have a chance to
be humiliated by the binding on-ride photos before you exit via the shop
you saw from the queue line.
From the queue, the ride may look no more spectacular than
a well themed log flume. The roller coaster-style drop soon dismisses
this initial thought, and the revolving tunnel and fountain tunnel just
go to strengthen the fact that this goes way beyond the customary
The coaster-style drop is nice and smooth, and because the
enclosure is darkened, you have no idea that you will soon be
encountering an impressive bunny-hop before even reaching the water.
The revolving tunnel is somewhat unreliable, but when it
works it seems to work very well, as instinct leads you to lean in the
opposite direction of rotation, which does actually tilt the boat.
The fountains just add to the experience, and the final
drop is nice and steep, inducing a nice stomach-in-the-mouth feeling,
skimming the water before getting you reasonably wet.
The theming around the rides’ circuit itself is
unsurprisingly lacking, but then there is little that can be themed. The
station area, the pool that it is built behind, and the queue really set
the plot to a tee and it is rather pleasing to the eye, too.
Parc Asterix have not only brought an exciting,
no-dead-spots ride to the park, but a well themed experience that
further enforces the parks’ continually impressive arsenal of rides
Very good theming,
especially for a log flume
Original theme and
▪ Interacts well with
pathways above and adjacent
▪ Very high capacity
▪ Great splash created
▪ Excellent drops
▪ If your boat is full, expect to