Le Musée des Arts Forains — The Museum of Carnival Arts
Le Musée des Arts Forains is a stunning collection of beautiful old amusement park rides and other carnival-related attractions, housed in one of the most absolutely magical spaces I've ever had the pleasure to visit.
When a friend of mine first told me about the Musée, I'd imagined a large, bland warehouse space displaying all of these pieces. Boy was I in for a shock! The space is colorful, ornately decorated, and exquisitely lit; it's a place I would totally love to live in.
I'd also been told at the time that the Musée des Arts Forains was closed to the public and could only be visited by appointment; presumably for journalists, private events, and the like. But then around November a couple years ago I learned that the Musée would be open to the public throughout the month of December! This was a huge deal, and I visited as soon as I could. The next year I hoped they'd open up again for December, and they did, so I visited a second time. The pictures on this page are from my two visits, in 2009 and 2010. The Musée is open to the plubic once again this December (2011), and I hope they continue this tradition forever.
The range of dates that the Musée is open changes from year to year, so be sure to check their website for exact dates and times.
This might be my favorite thing in the whole Musée des Arts Forains: "La Course de Garçons de Café" — "The Race of Café Waiters," featuring Parisian café waiters delivering wine!
And they're off! Who ever knew a Parisian waiter could hurry?
When you pay your admission to the museum, you receive a few tickets to play the various old-timey games that are scattered all over the place. There are even a few rides you can ride, including a full-sized carousel powered by all the riders sitting on bike seats and pedaling!
Take the Métro line to Cour Saint-Émilion. There's just one exit, and when you come out you'll be facing a large entrance into Bercy Village, an enclosed area of shops and restaurants (which is a wonderful place to wander around, browse, and eat, so consider working in some time to spend here as well!). Enter the Bercy Village entrance, and cut straight across (and a bit to the right) and go out the exit on the other side. This will put you on Rue des Pirogues de Bercy. Turn left here and then take a quick right onto Rue Lheureux. Walk to the end of this block and turn left onto Avenue des Terroirs de France. The entrance to the museum will be up ahead on the left; you can't miss it.
Some more pics...
Definitely try to visit this place if it's open during your stay! I really can't recommend it highly enough.