Lulu Parc

It’s summer vacation for children in France, and today we saw one way that French children enjoy themselves outside school: Lulu Parc. Lulu is, obviously, a giant giraffe, and Lulu Parc is Lulu’s insane enchanted playground where children can do whatever they want and no one ever has a problem.

Here are the entertainments you will find at Lulu Parc: Ball pits and jumpy castles, for all different ages. Inflatable water slides, both steep and gentle. A huge inflatable thing with water spraying onto it that also has four huge inflatable animals to tackle, ride, roll around on, scoot under, and otherwise bother. A smaller version of this for the little kiddies. A big rubbery inflated bump that you could run on, jump on, roll around on (15 people at a time) and a smaller version for littles. A dirt track with strange bicycle/fourwheeler/fat tire/jeep looking things (with sidecars) that you could climb on and ride around on and race or just cruise, also a smaller one for littles, with scooters and tricycles. A boat pond with hand operated paddlewheel boats to tool around in. Trampolines randomly placed including one big insdustrial strength one with six different jumping areas where kids could do really fancy tricks. A thing called a toboggan where there was a little cart in a tube-like track and you pushed it up a hill, jumped in, rolled down the hill through fast turns, and then got out. A petting farm with rabbits and goats, accessible by a little gate that said, “Please keep the gate closed.” A zip line – very long and awesome. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot.

Here are the things you won’t find at Lulu Parc: Attendants. There was a lady selling tickets and ice cream at the entrance, and two attendants in the whole park, one standing at the water slide making the kids wait to go up so that there weren’t too many kids at the top at once, and one operating the ride-on train. THAT IS IT. No one at the zip line. No one at the petting zoo. No one to tell the children not to run into each other on those bicycle things. No one to tell the children one jumper per trampoline area. No one. I mean these were, in my eyes, dangerous toys. The zipline for example – you had to climb up onto a tower pulling the seat with you (which was hard) and then stand at the edge of the tower wedging it between your legs. Then it would zoom you down, clunk you into the end of the line and swoosh you halfway back before you came to a stop. No attendant.

When we first got there, it was lightly populated, but as the afternoon wore on there were swarms of children at Lulu Parc, in groups and alone – the place was very popular. So was it full of pushing, shoving, accidents, bullying, hurt children crying, angry parents yelling, etc? No. I saw one parent raise her voice the entire four hours we were there, and it was to tell off someone else’s kid for splashing her kid with water. Maybe two sentences: “He doesn’t want you to do that. Please stop.” That’s the ONLY time I heard a child corrected, and miraculously they didn’t seem to need to be corrected!

The parents were very watchful – no cell phone conversations, no books on laps, very little socializing – they were watching the children. But they were not intervening and they were not stressed. If the kids needed help they looked to each other. Sadie was too little to ride the zip line even though she was old enough –t he other children helped her do it, without being asked. I swung the seat up to her once she was on the tower, the other kids helped her mount and always made sure she got her turn although she was the littlest one. She tried going on the steep water slide but got scared at the top – a bigger child in a pink bathing suit was there, holding her hand out, helping her get back to the ladder. No problem.

Benny, after carousing around on the spray inflatable with the animals, came bounding up to me and said, “I’m getting a lot of practice on saying “Ca va?” because every time I fall over somebody says, “Ca va?” and I say “Ca va bien.”
The other awesome thing about Lulu Parc was the petting zoo – those goats were so friendly and polite and charming. They had a slide into a pond (the sign said, reserved for the animals) and they were fed vegetables. The rabbits were chomping into a basket of lettuce and the goats were eating – cherries! In a crate! When we went in, I picked up a bit of cabbage from the ground and held it out to the goat. He politely sniffed us all over (including a lot of investigating on Sadie’s hair) and then walked casually over to the other side of his area, where he had a crate full of cherries. We were so interested, we couldn’t stop watching this goat eat cherries out of the crate – thoughtfully masticating them and then spitting out the seed. Sadie couldn’t get over that sweet, cherry-eating goat.

Lulu Parc was grand. Dangerous, rowdy, and grand. I wonder why it seems so foreign to me, and I can only believe that it’s because of liability insurance… I know that most of those rides would not have been allowed in an American playground, and definitely not without an adult looking on, making sure the children follow the rules. I have seen kids play together this cheerfully and easily, but only among homeschoolers who know each other very well. The kids felt so comfortable there that they disappeared from us entirely, only reappearing when they needed drinking water. If we lived near Lulu Parc, we’d have a season pass. Oh, yes we would.

1 comment:

  1. OK, are you sure you hadn't been magically transported to a distant galaxy far, far away? It sounds like the French kids are going to grow up so much more capable of just everyday coping and handling life than many of our kids are. Also, it appears they have manners. I miss those. A lot.