If you were walking on the street and glanced over at the bright red doors, you might just pass by, with maybe a passing thought that it looks like an interesting building. But it’s much more than that.
Available to visit only by prior reservation, the Musée des Arts Forains is a wonderland of objects, games, toys and rides from carnivals over the centuries.
The brainchild of Jean Paul Favand, an actor and antiques dealer, the museum opened in 1996 and is a collection of quirky carnival objects and amusement rides from 1850 to 1950.
Unlike many museums, this one encourages visitors to touch many of the exhibits. There’s a giant player piano/organ in one room, and various carnival rides and games in others. We rode on a bicycle merry-go-round and competed in a Waiter’s Race, where you move your waiter forward by tossing balls up into your individual skeeball machine.
The buildings themselves, called les Pavillons de Bercy, were originally used by the wine merchants of Paris, who, when the taxes they were forced to pay to the city became too high, successfully petitioned to have this particular area exempt from tax on the wine sales.
The site is also available to rent for corporate events. Who wouldn’t come to an event like that?
Visiter le Musée des Arts Forains à Paris (arts-forains.com) Because it’s only open to pre-reserved tours, and ones in English don’t happen all the time, it’s well worth visiting this website early to save yourself a place. Bring your kids, or simply become one again.