Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg

Sometimes known as a guignol, this is a traditional puppet theatre in Paris that was first founded back in 1933 within the Jardin du Luxembourg, and has remained there ever since, keeping the tradition alive for young children to enjoy, but today is housed in a comfortable and modern theatre that is heated in winter, and is the largest of its kind in France.

A bit of history

Robert Desarthis was the son of a toy maker and he grew up around puppets, and he performed in front of his first audience in 1922 at the age of 13, which was the start of his long and successful career in the world of puppet theatres.
Cendrillon play at Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg
However, it was not until 1930 that he obtained a concession to create a theatre within the Montsouris park, which he called the Guignolia, and with the help of the press, it was a resounding success, although spectators had to sit outside to watch the puppet show.

Now the French Senate are located within the Palais du Luxembourg inside the Jardin du Luxembourg, and in 1932 there was a competition launched by the Senate, to select a new concession for a show within the gardens.  And they decided to get their children to watch the shows by different companies in order to select the winner, which you have guessed it, was Robert Desarthis with his show called Return Guignol.

This was the next turning point for Robert Desarthis, and the first foundation stone was laid for this new puppet theatre in Paris in the February of 1933, and fully funded by this gentleman himself, it was designed by Marcel Temporal and inaugurated later that year, and is still the largest theatre of its kind in France.

Unfortunately the theatre was severely damaged during World War II, yet after the Liberation of Paris, Robert Desarthis done some travelling throughout Europe presenting the puppets, and then got the theatre back up and running again.
Then in 1971, he entrusted the direction of the theatre to his son, Francois Claude Desarthis, and since then the puppet theatre traditions have continued, along with new shows that have been devised under the directorship of Francois Claude Desarthis.

About the Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg

The Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg is the largest theatre of its kind with 275 seats and is heated in winter, yet cool during the summer, with an impressive sound and lighting system, not forgetting the machinery utilised for the changing of scenes quickly and efficiently.

When it comes to the shows at this puppet theatre, they are designed with young children in mind from around the ages of 2 to 6 years, yet they are a delight for all age groups, and even the adults come away smiling and laughing.

So from traditional puppet shows like Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio and Puss in Boots, along with the historical Guignol, there are also new creations and shows, with the programming changing every month or so.
Puppets of Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg
Indoor puppet show at Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg
Each show is practised time and time again by professional puppeteers before it is even viewed by the public, with songs and music accompanying the show, and with now thousands of scenes and puppets, there are on average around twelve different shows performed each year.

Visiting the Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg

The Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg is open on a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday along with National French holidays and school holidays, plus during the school holidays they have some morning shows.

All shows run for a maximum time of 40 minutes, and the cost is €6.40 as of 2018, whether it be for a child or adult.  However, due to the fact that the seating is not tiered, we do recommend you arrive around half hour before the show starts in order to get the best possible seats, as they are on a first come first served basis.

There is a discounted rate of €58 for 10 places, and an additional discounted rate for groups of over 15 people or for school outings, however, we would like to point out that these do have to be booked in advance.
Theatre des Marionnettes hand puppet show
Also, unfortunately pushchairs are not allowed inside, but there is a space at the entrance undercover, where they can be left for the duration of the puppet show.

Access to the Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg

Now when it comes to getting to these puppet shows in Paris, you will find the Theatre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg situated in the 6th Arrondissement within the Luxembourg Gardens close to the children's playground on the western side.

So when it comes to utilising public transport, you will find that the nearest Metro stations are the Vavin stop via line 4 or the Notre Dame des Champs stop via line 12, nearest to the entrances on the Rue Guynemer and Rue d'Assas.

However, on the opposite side of this historical garden you have the Luxembourg stop which serves the RER trains via line B, yet the bus lines 21, 27, 38, 58, 82, 83, 84 and 89 will also get you within walking distance of this traditional Marionnettes Theatre.