Nestled in the Bercy neighborhood of Paris lies an unexpected surprise - the largest museum in Europe featuring fairground art. Le Musée des Arts Forain is Jean-Paul Favand's private collection and can normally only be viewed by appointment. However, there are a handful of days that the collection is open to the public (with an admission fee). This year it was open during the Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) and will also be open from December 26, 2013 - January 5, 2014.
This museum is all about amusement, featuring pieces from the 1850's through 1950's. The museum has been open in its current location since 1996. The best part is that not only does it show how people entertained themselves at fairs from this time period, it invites the public to participate in the fun and games today.
I got to visit this museum during the Journées du Patrimoine this September. (You may remember that's also how I got behind the normally-closed-to-public doors of the Hôtel de Ville.) This museum participated in the European heritage days weekend and will open again for 11 more days this winter.
Admission includes one ticket to use on an attraction. The favorite was definitely the velocipede, a carousel comprised of bicycles instead of horses. This one was from the turn of the 20th century, and when everyone starts peddling away, that ride whips around pretty fast!
This interactive museum also had live entertainment, showing the art of spectacle. I stumbled upon this act going on, in which a woman controlled this larger-than-life puppet and interacted with the crowd to music. At times it was even a face-off between the character and the band of musicians.
I have never quite been to anything like this in Paris - a combination of fun and games with a healthy dose of creepy thrown in the mix.
Mark your calendar if you are planning a trip to Paris between Christmas and New Year's! You will not be disappointed by this little gem.
53, avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012 Paris
Open December 26, 2013 - January 5, 2014
Admission: 12€ adults, 10€ reduced price, 5 € children ages 2-12 (prices as of Dec 2013)