Fortune teller machines, antique carousel horses, a Hall of Mirrors, a unicorn who plays piano, vintage games and masked Venetian singers...the Musée des Arts Forains, or Carnival Arts Museum, is a private collection of vintage and antique decor, games and rides from carnivals, country fairs, traveling shows, curiosity cabinets and exotic gardens.
Entries in Paris (293)
Herb Lester, a British company that makes beautifully-designed maps printed on recycled paper with a quirky retro feel, has come out with a new specialty map, Paris: Small Shops. Written by the Paris-based writer Anne Stark Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager. It includes 40 small boutiques, many of them dating back several hundred years or hidden in secret passages. Other Paris maps in the collection include Paris en Famille, Paris for Pleasure-Seekers, and It’s Nice to be Alone in Paris. All maps are available on the Herb Lester website for £4 each, or you can ask for them at your local bookstore.
Despite the many screw caps in the US market, French bottles of wine and Champagne still come with corks. And these corks can be recycled at any Nicolas wine shop in France. They are sold to manufacturers to be reused (in décor, insulation and other building materials), with the proceeds being used to plant new cork oak trees in France (8000 corks = 1 tree). While you’re at Nicolas, don’t forget they not only sell wine, but also bags of ice!
Photo courtesy CityScoot
First there was Velib’, the municipal bike-sharing program. Then came Autolib’ with its cute electric cars. Now the City of Paris is now beta-testing a new program called CityScoot, a self-service electric scooter rental program scheduled to roll out in 2016 as part of the Paris Climate Conference initiative to “go green”.
You can sign up to be one of the beta-testers if you live in Paris (and can fill out the French sign-up form). As these are small electric scooters, a driving license isn’t required if you’re born before 1988. You can read more about the program here.
Whether you call it pétanque or boules, the traditional French game with the shiny silvery balls has made a comeback. It used to be the only people you'd see playing in were old men in berets sipping pastis. Now everyone plays, particularly Parisian hipsters (les BoBo's) who don't have to worry about breaking a sweat.
In the mood to try your hand? You can learn the rules of pétanque here, and find a great list of places to play here, but what about les boules? You can either buy inexpensive sets of balls at sporting goods store like Decathlon or from pro shops like Obut. You'll probably see another game with little wooden pins, almost like bowling. That Jeu de Quilles, a Finnish game that has become more popular around Paris, possibly because the equipment is lighter and less expensive, and little kids can play. Not sure where they rate on the cool-o-meter, though. Stick with boules unless you're devoid of hipster aspirations or immune to subtle Parisian mocking.
Casual pétanque games in the Arènes de Lutèce, for all ages (click here to see a cheeky angle to this pic).
If you're just passing through and don't need the extra kilos in your suitcase you can also rent them from Paris Ma Belle for just €10/person for the day, and they even deliver and pick-up the balls when you're done. Another option if you don't want to have to do anything yourself is to hire Paris Localers to take a Pétanque Tour including an apéritif and a match on the Place Dauphine.
Note that many people say you can play in the dedicated pétanque courts in Luxembourg Gardens, but they are usually reserved (and obsessively raked like a zen garden) for the local pétanque club. So feel free to play elsewhere in the park, there is plenty of space, but don't play in the reserved areas unless you get permission.
Serious pétanque player in the immaculate Jardin du Luxembourg.