Musee des Arts Forains Fairground Museum
Traditional funfairs were very popular from the late 1800s and until just before World War II, and through the efforts of Jean Paul Favand who started to collect antique fairground rides and fun fair attractions, there is now a private museum in Paris called the Musee des Arts Forains.
About the Musee des Arts Forains Museum
Known as the museum of fairground arts, this museum in Paris was created through the efforts of an actor and antique collector by the name of Jean Paul Favand, who has spent over thirty-five years collecting objects associated with fun fairs and fairground attractions. Yet this has also escalated into amusements from around Europe and it has now become one of the largest collections of fairground art and objects in the world.
Housed within the former wine cellars dating from the 19th century that are called the Pavillons de Bercy, Jean Paul Favand has collected more than 50,000 documents along with different objects, curiosities and antiques that relate to entertainment in Paris and throughout the world.
And from distorting mirrors to traditional carrousels and mechanical musical instruments through to games such as the race of waiters and a gondola ride to a merry-go-round, there is something to enthral anyone of any age, and these are not just here for show, but you can actually experience a ride on these just like the wooden horses for example.
There are also over 50,000 documents now owned by the museum along with a collection of costumes, a bicycle merry-go-round, fair background photos where you put your head through a whole and much, much more to discover.
However, bearing in mind that many of these fabulous fairground attractions at the Musee des Arts Forains museum are well over 100 years old, there has been much restoration required in order to get them working again, or even look like they should have done when they were constructed.
And it is the workshops at the Pavillon de Bercy that organise the protection and restoration of this unique heritage, along with the organisation of private and corporate functions, which is what funds the project and the museum.
In fact there are approximately twenty professionals including sculptors, painters, mechanics, engineers, etc that all work supported by the extensive studies and documentation of postcards, catalogues from manufacturers, etc that have been accumulated from all over Europe.
And this means that the collection can be painstakingly, yet expertly restored to their former glory and to give you an idea of what is involved, the Velocipede Carrousel from Caillebaut and Decanck required more than 20,000 working hours to get this back up to scratch both from an aesthetics point of view and mechanically.
Incredibly, sometimes an engineer has to make a mechanical part from scratch in order to get an engine working again, and a restorer can take up to three months on just one wooden horse with a scalpel to recover the initial polychrome of the decoration in all its original colours.
So, even though the Musee des Arts Forains is a fun place to visit, there is a lot more behind the scenes that even makes this possible, and the most recent acquisition was an Indian elephant from the Colonial Exhibition in 1931 that took over 300 hours to restore, yet illustrates the relationship between fairgrounds and international exhibition fairs.
Access to Musee des Arts Forains Fairground Museum
You will find this Fairground museum located in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris within the Pavillons de Bercy in the Bercy area, that was the former wine market area of Paris, which has been redeveloped and transformed with the Parc de Bercy, the Coeur Saint Emilion cultural and shopping centre along with the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy Stadium.
We would, however, like to point out that because the Musee des Arts Forains is also linked with the Venetian Rooms and the Theatre Merveilleux within the Bercy Pavilions, they have numerous corporate events and private functions that are held a different times throughout the year. Therefore, you can normally only get to visit this museum in Paris via prior appointment.
And as of 2013, the cost of entry to this museum is €14, but children under the age of 12 are only a cost of €5, and it is open most days of the week, plus this does include a guided tour and the ability to even experience some of the fairground rides and fun fair games.
Mind you, at certain times of the year for the past few years, the Musee des Arts Forains has been open between Christmas and New Year without reservations from 10am through to 6pm, and the same goes for European Heritage Days, known as the Journees du Patrimoine, where you can also gain free access.
And situated close to the River Seine, you may also be pleased to know that this fairground museum is accessible to the disabled and those with reduced mobility, although going on certain rides such as the carrousel would not be possible.
Now, getting to the Bercy area and the Musee des arts Forains museum is very easy with the public transport in Paris and you can utilise the high speed Metro train called the Meteor, which is on line 14 and the stop is the Coeur Saint Emilion. But for the RER you would need line A and by bus it is number 24.
- History of Musee des Arts Forains and Fun Fairs
- The Pavillons de Bercy
Address and Contact Details
Musee des Arts Forains
Pavillons de Bercy
53 Avenue des Terroirs de France
Ile de France
Reservations for Visits Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 40 16 15
Events and Functions Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 40 16 22
Tourist attractions close by
- Parc de Bercy Park
- Bercy Village
- History of Bercy in Paris
- Maison du Jardinage House of Gardening
- Agence Parisienne du Climat
- Jardin Yitzhak Rabin
- Chai 33 Restaurant
- La Cinematheque Francaise Cinema
- Musee de la Cinematheque Museum
- Le 51 Restaurant
- Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy Stadium POPB
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