April 05, 2024

Raoul Cardo, Cardoland parc d'attractions / Cardoland amusement park

this image (2018) by Benoit Prieur, published here under 
license of Creative Commons CCO 1.0

The road sign near the village of Chamoux in eastern France in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region indicates that Cardo Land is nearby. an area with an art environment composed of dozens of sculptures, mainly of prehistoric animals, handmade by Raoul Cardo. 

It is a complex that became one of the first amusement parks in France.

Life and works

The parents of Raoul Cardo, who was born October 28, 1924 in the  Spanish city of Bujalance in the Andalusia region, were prominent in the Spanish art world. His mother, Emelina Torres, was a renowned dancer and his father was a professor of fine arts in Madrid.

At an early age the boy would come into contact with this world, like it happened when he was five years old, that he accompanied his mother on a trip to Paris, where she had to appear as a dancer in a film. This happened more often when she had to perform elsewhere in Europe.

unless indicated otherwise, this image and the 
next ones are published here in agreement with
Francis David, as on website Habitants-Paysagistes LAM

In addition to what he learned at primary school, he gained all kinds of knowledge of the art world through those travels, which was also supplemented by lessons that his father gave him on this topic.

In the 1930s a civil war raged in Spain and in this context, in 1938, Raoul Cardo's father was murdered by Spanish troops. His mother decided to migrate to France with her children. Raoul was 14 years old at the time.

In Paris he could become a novice dancer with a theater company, where he mainly expressed himself in flamenco dance, but also as a novice choreographer. From 1948 onwards Cardo wrote ballets for which he created the sets and costumes.

The highlight of his career as a dancer was when he became principal dancer at the Paris Opera. He also appeared in a number of films, including one in which he teaches flamenco to Brigitte Bardot.

On the way to an amusement park

Raoul Cardo was broadly oriented artistically. In addition to his activities in the field of dance, he made paintings, drew comics and did architectural work.

In 1967, when he was in his early 40s, he added a new hobby: creating life-size prehistoric animals, made by adding a layer of cement to a properly shaped infrastructure of iron wire.

He started this hobby with the idea that one day he could set up a place with an exhibition of these creatures from the past. 

The choice of this hobby may also be related to the fact that he was now in his early forties, an age at which a career in the dance world generally ends. (The exact moment when Cardo stopped dancing is not available on the internet).

In the 1970s, Cardo and his family left Paris to move to the hamlet of Moulin Granard, part of the village of Gâcogne in the Morvan region. There he had the necessary space to store the sculptures of prehistoric animals. The thought of opening a park for those creations must have occupied him more and more.

In 1981 the idea became reality when, aged 57, he moved to Chamoux, a village some 40 km north of Moulin Granard. 

Just outside Chamoux, along the departmental road D951, he had bought a 10 hectare plot of land.

the entrance of the park (as on Google Streetview)

In 1984, the Jurassic Park called Cardo Land was officially opened. It included more than 80 life-size sculptures of prehistoric animals and people.

Cardo would manage the park for the first 25 years.

From the opening of the park, visitors could follow a walking path of more than 900 meters that leads past the sculptures. From the beginning of the park there was also a cave with decorations made by Cardo, a spot reminiscent of the Lascaux caves.

There are all kinds of activities for children, such as drawing, painting and sculpting, but also assisting with the "birth" of baby dinosaurs.

After Cardo died in 2009, the park was managed and run by his wife, children and now also his grandchildren. The park is therefore still a business run by the Cardo family.

In 2019, at the initiative of Cardo's daughter Mélusine, a new presentation was added to the park's activities, the so-called Prehistoric Circus

This is a performance of over an hour with all kinds of demonstrations and acrobatic equestrian sports by Mélusine and other family members. 

A special event is also the appearance of family members dressed as dinosaurs, who perform an act that appeals to the audience.

* Website of Cardoland
Tripadvisor with more than a hundred photos

* Video (2020) from Facebook with a short impression of the Prehistoric Circus show 

Raoul Cardo
Cardo Land  amusement park
35 Rue Principale (=Departmental route D951)
89660 Chamoux dept Yonne, region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France
open from July 1 to August 31

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