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Take a walk on the wild side of Parisian museums and give the Musée des Arts Forains a try. I guarantee you will not be disappointed by this singular and wonderfully unconventional hidden gem right around the corner from Bercy Village in the 12th Arrondissement.
Residing in former wine storage warehouses, guests are transported back to 19th and early 20th century fairgrounds while walking through grandiose rooms filled with original carrousels, fairground games, costumes and oddities.
In those early days of fair culture, adults not children were the target audience. Back then, fairs provided an escape from every day life through the fantasy and magic of the lights, sounds, games, and thrills.
The interactive guided tour of this unique Paris museum caters to both adults and children, and young and old alike are swept away by the enthusiastic, dynamic, and passionate guides leading you on your time travel adventure.
Each guide sets the scene and creates a narrative that includes you, the guest, as a player in a night at the fair—quite literally! Prepare for a classic fair game akin to skee-ball where you race your horse to the finish line.
Hop on a 19th-century carrousel propelled by the riders as you pedal your way round and round on a bicycle at impressive speed. Test your waltzing skills in the grand ballroom as you dance to music from an authentic antique pipe organ. And the list goes on and on…
During your tour, you will note that there is no modern-day technology involved in creating the ambiance. The beauty of this experience is that it invokes the use of imagination stimulated by the intricate simplicity of what existed in this bygone era. The museum completely immerses you in a world far from the sometimes overly-complicated sophistication of today.
Each of the three times I’ve visited this museum, I’ve been whisked away. Marveling at the twinkling lights, I quickly forget that I’m not 10 years old anymore.
This unusual and exceptional museum continues the legacy started by the original fairs in magnificent fashion and most definitely warrants a stop while in Paris.
Reservations are required. See the Musée des Arts Forains Official Website to schedule your visit. Tickets are 16€ for adults, 8€ for children ages 4-11, and free for children under 4. Most tours are in French, with English visits offered during the summer.