‘WELCOME to our park,” beamed the hotel receptionist at our sprawling French theme park. “We like it when people from Scotland choose to come here and they always have a great time.” This is not the Parisian theme park most people think of though. We were not at Disneyland Paris, but its homegrown sibling – Parc Astérix.

Having thoroughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in the world of Walt Disney on our last family trip to France, I was determined – despite my two daughters’ protestations – to try something different. And so we arrived at Parc Astérix, the “other” sprawling theme park on the outskirts of Paris, to see if a break at this alternative works out too.

Astérix is no stranger to me, his wondrous band of Gauls imprinted on my childhood memory as they battled the Romans and each other in cartoon form on the page and on the screen. I was surprised to find both 16-year-old Tara and 13-year-old Emma were well-versed in their antics – some things in Scottish French classes must never change.

At Parc Astérix (www.parcasterix.fr) we stayed at La Cité Suspendue. As it sounds, you’re above the ground in an elevated complex, hanging in a mixed wood forest alive with greenery. It was a joy skipping along the walkways looking out for wee birds and even hulking herons, which we also saw from our balcony. Hats off to Parc Astérix for a three-star option that is a joy to stay at and feels a million miles from a theme park.

The National:

La Cité Suspendue couldn’t be much closer to Parc Astérix, which celebrates its 35th birthday this year. We meandered through the forest and in 10 minutes were through a reassuring security checkpoint and into the theme park. Astérix images were, of course, liberally sprinkled throughout the park, but I was impressed with the more global theming too. While you don’t need to be a huge Astérix fan to have fun I’d recommend showing the kids a few cartoons beforehand.

Handily the 97-acre park is also split into areas for younger kids enjoying imaginative play, then other rides geared towards families and on to real adrenaline thrills. We focused our first day trying out the family-friendly rides, with plenty of watery fun on a warm spring day. These delivered: on top of bumps, drops and thrills, we were liberally soaked on each one.

The thrill rides did not disappoint my more adventurous older teen Tara. She tackled the all-conquering Goudurix, a seven-loop rollercoaster and Toutatis, France’s fastest attraction, reaching speeds up to 110km/ph. We had issues initially with our fast track passes, but when they were working they were a great way to skip the queues that form later on. Handily, when you stay on site at one of the three hotels you can also sneak into the park a bit earlier to avoid any queues.

We found the food much better than you would get at any theme park in the UK. My kids loved that, being a French park, they were able to grab a delicious crepe on site. Daddy’s favourite option was the Restaurant du Lac, with ice cold Kronenbourg on draught and locally sourced meats. The wild boar came as a peppery sausage, which was backed up by a tasty kebab and chop. Absolutely delicious. The hotel buffet dinners at La Cité Suspendue were decent too.

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Parc Astérix is not a place to stand on its hard-won laurels. This year saw the opening of the 40-high Tower of Numerobis, which vaults up above the tree line and then rotates around to open up breathtaking views. You get a real bird’s eye view of the park up here. Then it drops you back down to earth. We loved the revamped Revenge of the Pirates – Grand Splatch too, a whoop-inducing water ride. Speaking to the Parc Astérix management there is talk of new hotels in the pipeline too in a park that is trying to do all it can to keep up with Disneyland Paris – never an easy task given how well Disney do things.

So the big question is how Astérix’s magical world turned out for the kids? My 16-year-old Tara said: “I really enjoyed the bigger rides, which were faster than I expected. The Astérix stuff was cool, as was the treehouse we stayed in. I’d recommend it.” Then 13-year-old Emma chipped in. “I liked that it was in a forest so we could hear the birds and it wasn’t just all rollercoasters.”

So there we have it. Parc Astérix is well worth checking out. I’d even say if you’ve already been to Disneyland Paris I’d consider it next time as the rides are good (and some fast), the forest accommodation we had was a joy and the food is superb; it’s impressively local too. As we left we said goodbye to the receptionist who greeted us and she smiled: “I told you Scottish people always enjoy our park.”