“Emperor Rex! With wands raised, looking intently, the one night sorcerer’s apprentices painstakingly repeat the magic formula their teacher has just instructed them to pronounce. This scene takes place on Château Rocher Portail, near Fougeres (35). The owner, Manuel Roussel, started his own wizarding school there
, inspired by the Harry Potter universe – yet not too much. The 49-year-old entrepreneur opens the doors to a magical world during All Saints’ Day. We spent the evening immersed in this new school of witchcraft, a first in France
: we take you with us. Warning, spoilers!
No Harry Potter school
For the dress rehearsal that will be organized on Tuesday evening, a few days before the big premiere on Saturday, October 22, the appointment has been set at 7:15 pm First blow: the arrival by car at the estate. The setting impresses and immediately immerses the visitor in the universe. Above the castle, classified as a historic monument, the flags fly in the colors of the four houses: Busarde, Fauvedor, Cerfdelune and Boucflèche. “The comparison with Harry Potter makes sense, the squire readily admits. But we decided to create our own wizarding school based on the castle’s history. In addition, we immediately warned the fans of the saga by telling them “beware, this is not copy-paste”! »
I was really into this new story.
So disappointed lovers of the wizard with the scar? Not really according to Magdala, but equipped from head to toe for the entrance. “They warned us it was going to be a witch night, we are waiting to see the magic happen! », Enthusiastic the one who works in a nearby tourist office. “I really got into this new story,” adds Carine by her side.
For us, this is where the magic begins. Professor Horace Albebo invites one-night wizards to enter the new school. At the end of a corridor where the drawings of all the characters are displayed, the Ark of Truth. You have to cross it to discover the house that you will reach (does that remind you of something?) and thus enter the great room of medieval origin, quite impressive. The actors who embody the different teachers are really invested and allow us to project ourselves into this imaginary world without any problems.
Did you bring a cratcho to school?
As soon as we pass under the arc of truth – pointing to Busarde’s house -, microphone in hand, Lady Pommecreuse, botanist teacher, calls out to us: “Did you bring a cratcho to school? “. The exchanges with the actors are fun and allow you to pass the time while waiting for all the guests to be seated. “The decor is very nice”, slips our neighbor on the left. are installed confirm the “banquet” atmosphere that Manuel Roussel longed for.
Learning spells, magic tricks…
The headmistress of the school, Ludovica Lutterotti, enters the room. “Go straight to her!” Before hostilities open and the meal begins, the director sets the tone: the gate that surrounds the school and whose key must be found protects the residents. The actors pass between the tables, interacting with the visitors. Between each course (minor minus for the lack of a real vegetarian meal) the teachers set up activities: learning spells that the room has to repeat, magic tricks…
It feels like in a movie
Harry Potter fans, Bastien and Juliette, just to our right, are also enthusiastic: “It’s really immersive, you feel like you’re in a movie and you also discover the history of the castle”. The atmosphere is very friendly and invites you to chat with your table neighbors, while the common thread of the story unfolds. Special mention for the mentalism tour, of which we were the guinea pigs… Truly wonderful!
Discover the attic of the castle
After three hours, the meal ends and all participants are invited to discover the rest of the castle, especially the attic; this hosted a college for three years during World War II. The dorms, which have remained as they are, are fully furnished for the immersive aspect. “I am part of Audacieux du patrimoine, a network of private entrepreneurs in the field of historical monuments,” explains Manuel Roussel. We think about the evolution of our offer and how we can attract new generations. For a few years now, we have all been telling ourselves that events will save the future of our monuments! »
Our bet is won: we will reach 10,000 tickets sold, that’s great!
In each room, the different teachers set up an activity, a short sketch that inspires the discovery of the interior of the building. No detail is left to chance: in a bedroom, a fake newspaper lies at the foot of the bed, above which a hat hangs; in another, a background noise makes it possible to distinguish an imaginary discussion between two students of the school.
An investment of € 1.2 million
The evening ends after more than 4 hours in the courtyard of the castle. All the actors and students are gathered for a fireworks display that concludes the visit. The reception is unanimous and there is loud applause. “This project is an investment of 1.2 million euros,” confides the owner. But our bet was won: we cover our costs, we reach 10,000 tickets sold, that’s great! »
During the All Saints’ period, from October 22 to November 5, a hundred seats are still available for the evening events (banquet + visit and entertainment). For the afternoon formula, which lasts 1h30 and which includes a visit to the school and its thirty rooms, a selfie room and activities with the teachers, there are still 3,000 places available.
However, beware of unpleasant surprises, and this is the big disadvantage of this new school: the prices! Count on €99 per person for the evening menu, €28.50 for the afternoon menu. “We are aware of our pricing policy and the value of money,” Manuel Roussel acknowledges. We know we were disappointed because 99 € to get to 4, it’s not a small budget. But between the meal, the actors, the sets, our margin is minimal…”. We bet that given the success of the immersion, fans of magic will get their money’s worth.