Nicolas de Villiers, Grande Ecole 2003, President of the Grand Parc du Puy du Fou
Nicolas de Villiers, the third of seven siblings, was raised in a conservative family in Vendée, western France. His father Philippe is a public figure: he was a candidate in the 1995 and 2007 French presidential elections, and in 1989, he founded the Puy du Fou, a historical theme park with a unique creative concept. In 2004, aged 24, just one year after graduating from Audencia, Nicolas received the keys to the Park and became its president. Other heirs in his position would have let qualified staff do the hard work, so they could rest on their laurels, cash in the dividends, and enjoy an idle and carefree lifestyle. Except this is a far cry from what Nicolas stands for. Immersed in the Puy du Fou’s culture since birth, he spent his childhood in the arena or backstage and therefore knows the park inside out.
A hands-on leader and workaholic who never takes holidays, he declares: “I eat Puy du Fou, I dream Puy du Fou!” Unflagging faith in the mission of the park, total dedication, and always setting his sights on the next ten years, has allowed him to grow the annual turnover from €18M when he joined, to €125M today. Thanks to its awe-inspiring shows and unusual hotels which propel visitors back in time, the Puy du Fou has established itself as a global reference in the performance industry. It is now the nation’s number one park after Disney, and is regularly voted “best theme park in the world” by professionals and visitors alike.
Nicolas de Villiers opens up with candour and simplicity about his aversion to school, his relationship with his father, and why his pursuit “goes far beyond entertainment”.