Paris is studded with lovely carousels, so it makes sense that it is the home to the musée des Arts Forains. The museum is part of the huge exhibit space at the Pavillons de Bercy in the 12th Arrondissement. They are part of the private collection of Jean Paul Favand, an actor and antiques dealer who gathered each piece over 35 years. It opened in 1996 and contains 14 amusement rides, 16 fair stalls, and numerous examples of fair paraphernalia.
The museum is divided into three huge rooms dedicated to recreating the atmosphere of the heyday of the great fairs, particularly the great Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. One room features automatons, like those in the movie Hugo. Another has fairground games, like the Parisian Waiter Race. It is open to the public by prior reservation every day except Saturday. To see it, call 01 43 40 16 15 or contact them using the link, above.
Arts Forains means (ar for-ahn) or “Fairground Arts.” Fairs were all about creating the illusion of the exotic. An archaic meaning of the word forain is “from abroad” or “foreign,” which is almost the same pronunciation as forain, just with the emphasis on the second syllable. Neat connection, isn’t it?
- Enchanted city of carousels (bbc.co.uk)
- Oldest carousel in Paris at the age of 134 …. (musiqdragonfly.wordpress.com)
- Stunning Photographs of Vintage Parisian Architecture (flavorwire.com)