The Rocher Mistral cultural and historical entertainment park, located at the Château de La Barben in the Provençal countryside of Aix-en-Provence, is entering its second season.
For this one, the stuntmen are appearing with the objective of reaching 150,000 visitors, or 50,000 more than last year.
If the affiliation with the Puy du Fou seems obvious, Vianney d'Alençon, the owner, does not wish to walk in its shadow and wants to imprint his own mark.
The life of a castellan is not always easy.
At 36, Vianney d'Alençon, who bought the Château de La Barben, located in the countryside of Aix-en-Provence, to open the "Rocher Mistral" there, a cultural and historical entertainment park, was able to measure, no offense to his passion "for old stones".
His park project, launched at a forced march, encountered legal opposition from environmental associations or neighbors to the tranquility disturbed by so many events.
At the dawn of year 2 of his project, he draws up for
an initial assessment, between legal opposition, artistic creation and recruitment of stuntmen.
One year after the opening of Rocher Mistral, what is your initial assessment?
It is a very successful launch.
We have very high levels of customer satisfaction, which is fundamental when opening a tourist and cultural site.
Now, we must continue to seduce an ever larger, more family-oriented audience.
This is the desire for this year 2022. We reached close to 100,000 visitors in this first year, with a target of 150,000 for this second.
Beyond that, we are currently happy, because for the moment we have no constraints related to the Covid.
There is the international situation that we know, but it does not impact us directly.
And then, we are in an election year, which always puts the French in a wait-and-see situation, but this first season went well and truly.
Do you have data on the geographical distribution of visitors?
We are about 50% Provençal visitors and 50% from outside the region.
You have announced new features for this second season, can you tell us about it?
We always have shows around the Aix revolt of the Cascaveous and the life of Claude Forbin, a naval officer from Gardanne who sailed to Siam.
There are a few new features, in particular the stuntmen arriving at Rocher Mistral.
We have strengthened our artistic team, brought to 70 people.
Twenty-five stuntmen have joined the cast with two new stunt shows, the highlight of which is “Double Edged,” a 25-minute show about medieval lords going to duel, complete with combat.
To stay within the theme of Provence, we have also developed a show around
Des lettres mon moulin
by Alphonse Daudet.
We rebuilt and restructured our night show, which doubled in length and featured stuntmen.
There is also the arrival of Louis XIV at the Rocher de Mistral, at the Château de La Barben, and a puppet show around Tartarin de Tarascon, a tale by Alphonse Daudet.
You are 36 years old, at what point in your personal trajectory did you tell yourself that you were going to make a historical amusement park?
It's not an amusement park.
We define it as a cultural and historical entertainment park.
I have always been passionate about heritage and old stones.
And bringing old stones back to life is something that has always fascinated me.
And the opportunity arose with the Château de La Barben, which needed restoration.
This park has made it possible to restore and enhance this monument around pieces of our culture and our history.
You have encountered legal opposition, particularly around building permits and various authorizations, where are you today?
I am very calm about this opposition, very minimal moreover, the fact of a handful of people.
Any project raises opposition today, it is a very clear logic All legal attacks have been won in court.
I believe that we have passed these stages which are part of the life of an entrepreneurial project in the 21st century.
Recently, a book published by two historians, entitled “Le puy du faux”, denounces a certain historical disguise for political purposes carried out by Le Puy du Fou… To what extent do you draw a parallel with your project?
I am not aware of this book.
Second element, we have nothing to do with Puy du Fou, the approach is really different.
And last point, there is no trace of any ideology or political bias within the Rocher Mistral.
Afterwards, I don't have the capacity or the skills to judge Puy du Fou, which technically and spectacularly is extremely brilliant.
But we are not at all in the same vein.
What are your ambitions for the years to come?
Are you going to renew or enrich the programming each year?
We are first and foremost a place of artistic creation.
And from the moment you have actors, it's the novelty that we want to bring to life.
The objective is therefore to pursue development.
We have a development permit in the process of being obtained within the services, we are at the end of the course.
This will allow us to continue the development of the agricultural part, an important aspect for our environment.
We planted vines, and lavender, continue to develop the beekeeping part.
But the time of agriculture is not that of creating a show, it is a little longer.
The investments were significant, around 30 million euros.
Is it a profitable project?
It's a site that has just started and the investments, indeed, are very important.
The objective of this year, to seek 150,000 admissions and profitability.
It is obvious that in order to be able to continue to develop the creative part, we will have to be profitable, that is the objective.
Do you have in a corner of your head the idea of reproducing this project on other castles in other regions of France?
Not at all.
There, I am focused on the Rocher Mistral.
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Aix en Provence