Ride a Cock Horse

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museum fairground rides paris

For the past couple of years I have failed at securing a ticket to visit the Museum Arts Forain.

It opens it’s doors in short blocks of time for approximately a two week window and they stagger the release of a small amount of tickets.  

Reasonably small groups are guided through, and it is only in French.

The French Historian, who some of you may remember from four years back when I first met him at Jim Haynes Sunday night dinners, has become a very dear friend.

I have been stalking the Museé des Arts Forain website, waiting for my moment to pounce.  

A couple of weeks back they released tickets.  I emailed the French Historian and begged and pleaded for him to come with me in the hope he could do a bit of translating during the tour.  He wasn’t very interested in the museum but I pushed and voilà, minutes later he responded with; we have two tickets. 

Finding the place was a bit of a challenge.

Numerous phone calls to one another and the time was slipping away.  Cranky, disappointed and sulking like a child, I told him to go in without me but he wasn’t keen to go in the first place, he was only going for me.

As my frustration gathered to boiling point and google maps had me heading in the wrong direction, I decided to use my intuition and promptly found the museum.

I am here, I tell the French Historian over the phone but everything is locked up, where is the entrance, give me a landmark.  He says he doesn’t know where I am and is unable to help.

This is when I understand the French mannerism and tend to adopt it in situations like this, without even realising I do it.  A deep intake of breath, the breath fills my cheeks, and a ‘puh’ escapes out of my mouth, in a long slow stream, in unison with a tilt of the head.

Is it anywhere near the giant, modern blue glass building, I ask him.  Yes, he says, it is right in front of it.  Ok, I will kill him when I finally find him, he clearly has no idea how to give navigational instructions.

Our group had already entered but bold as brass, we pushed through the crowd waiting their turn and joined the group.  Well that was easy, we smiled at one another, but still waiting to be evicted at any moment but we got in.

Museé des Arts Forain is housed in a giant brick warehouse in the area of Bercy and has a collection of antique fair ground equipment.  Elaborate carousels, with prancing horses and decorative bevelled glass.  Mostly it is used for event space but a few times a year it opens it’s doors to the public to gape in awe and adults momentarily become children for the duration of the visit.

historic fairground rides paris

The French Historian’s eyes sparkled and a wide grin appeared on his face when we entered the dimly lit large space.

It is good – no?  I ask him.  Yes, he shrugs, as only the French can pull off so well.  I told you, I spurt out, say thank you, I demand, and just for added measure; I throw in –  I always take you to the best places in Paris, don’t I ? Demanding that he respond.

 He smirks at me as we move closer to listen to the entertaining and animated tour guide, filling us all with excitement and wonder.

historic carousel rides paris

The French Historian translates, we have the opportunity to ride the ancient carousel.  We look at one another, trying to guess what the other is thinking, do we or don’t we.  Are we too old for this kind of thing.  A grin breaks out on both of our faces and we rush like children to grab a horse.

Back in the day, to own or ride a horse was quite noble.  Not dissimilar of today to own a flash car, The French Historian translates. The carousel gave people a sense of what it would be like to ride a horse and this is where the carousel was born.

As we ride around with the music of Piaf radiating from the merry-go-round, we both agreed that this was fun.

Next we were to play a game.

french waiters game musee arts forains fairground

Smartly dressed waiters carrying a tray would race across a platform, powered by us, the player.

By tossing a ball up a shaft, with the object of getting it in a hole, preferably a red hole for speed, our waiter trundled along until someone won.  This was really good fun and to watch the waiters racing against one another was quite funny.

The guide tells us, that initially, these would have been horses, instead of waiters.  Effectively creating a horse race.

A short video for some live action!

Next, the grand finale.

carousel merry go round paris

Another carousel but this one, was something I had never seen before.

Dating back to the mid 1800’s.  In fact, it is so unique that a patent was secured for it’s design. Only when someone stole the design to run it backwards was the patent open to be exploited.

Initially powered by steam, large bikes on a tilt whirl around at great speed, generated at first, by the riders and then it takes off!

It was such a huge buzz, as it worked up momentum, faster and faster, the breeze flapping through our hair.

What a fantastic experience we were giddy with excitement.

 

We left with big grins on our faces, I am so glad that The French Historian was persuaded to join me at Museè des Arts Forain and I think that he was too.

carousel horse paris museum merry go round
historic fairground rides paris

 

A quick presentation of my new digs and a charcuterie platter and a glass of wine at my favourite bar, Petit fer a Cheval and then we were off for dinner at Jim Haynes.

As soon as I stepped through Jim’s kitchen doorway, I could hear him above the crowd, ADELE he shouts as I push passed the guests to receive a long warm hug.  It has been too long he says but it felt like only yesterday that I saw him.

Gerard, a man I met last year on a street art tour was over from the UK, that was a nice surprise to see him again and there were quite a few familiar faces as well.

We had a lovely night and a fun filled day.

Just another wonderful day in Paris, really, that’s all.

 

Paris Adèle’s Information Nécessaire:

pigs fly museum arts forains paris carousels

Museé des Arts Forain – official website

Les Pavillons de Bercy
53 Avenue des Terroirs de France
Paris 75012

Closest Metro: Cour Saint-Emilion
Admission: 16 euros

Hours: check website for ticket availability

Jim Haynes Sunday night dinners – official website

 

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2 Responses to Ride a Cock Horse

  • superchrissy11

    Bravo Adele .. What a super post from this unique Musee … Now that’s something not too many people would know about or ever get to see

    • parisadele

      Hi Superchrissy11 – it was a fantastic experience. I had heard so much about it and it was more than I hoped for. The rides were great fun.

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