France | Paris

Carousels in Paris

While roaming the streets of Paris, I had never paid much attention to the numerous carousels scattered across the city until they started popping up in some of the “best Instagram spots” posts. But they do add a certain charm to all those photos. Carousels are woven into the fabric of Parisian streets and add a colorful note to the otherwise repetitive Hausmann backdrop of the French capital.

Upon closer inspection, one can see that carousels (also called merry-go-rounds or manège) are cleverly installed near tourist attractions and parks to target children with their glittering lights and mesmerizing wooden horses. One of the first rides that gave its visitors a physical sense of speed, carousels today seem to be the most innocent of rides, sparking the imagination of young princesses and adventurous riders.

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Illustration of Carousels and Eiffel Tower
[Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.]

A Brief History of Carousels in Paris

I always thought carousels were pretty modern, developed after the invention of machines, but these joyful rides have been around for centuries. The history of carousels in Paris begins with the unfortunate death of Catherine de Medici’s young husband in 1599 during a game of jousting. By the 17th century, this dangerous game of jousting was replaced by “un carrousel”, an elegant equestrian ballet in a coordinated parade pageant with elaborately dressed riders on horsebacks. The most famous carrousel was organized for the Sun King Louis XIV’s first son on the western grounds of the Louvre, the square that today is popularly known as Place du Carrousel.

Also known as Jeu de Bague, this game included ring tilting wherein players on horseback would ride towards a ring with a lance in hand and aim to spear the highest number of rings. To perfect this skill, the riders usually practiced on carved wooden horses suspended on beams, a rudimentary prototype of today’s carousel. Some of the oldest rides of Paris, like Jardin du Luxembourg, bear a close resemblance to these Renaissance practices where children can spear rings even today with wooden sticks. On the other hand, the majority of the rides have forgotten the initial purpose, and continue to remain an amusement ride full of shimmering lights and catchy tunes.

After the French Revolution of the 18th century, carousels became more accessible to the grand public. Sitting on elegantly dressed horses was reserved for aristocrats and soldiers therefore, the opening up of carousels for the common people gave them a taste of royalty.

Carousels saw several changes towards the second half of the 19th century when they were incorporated into fairground attractions. They reached a peak in popularity with mechanical advances and technological inventions. Previously moved by hand, Thomas Bradshaw reinvented the game after introducing steam-powered machines to spin the rides in 1861. Soon after, in the 1870s, Frederick Savage enabled horses to move up and down on their poles.

Although quite a few shared in the advancement of carousels, Gustave Bayol was perhaps one of the most important names of the fairground industry. Popularly known as the Michelangelo of fairground art, he was celebrated as the most prestigious carver of France. Being an innovator, his style and quality of work have earned him recognition across Europe. His claim to fame began in 1887 with one order of wooden horses that paved the way to a grand atelier churning out complete decor, panoramas, and spectacular carvings inspired by classicism.

His work can be seen even today in the carousels of Bois de Vincennes and Jardin du Ranelagh. Known as Manège in French, the carousels in mainland Europe turn anti-clockwise as traditionally, horses were mounted from the left side. In England, the carousels turn clockwise to keep with the tradition of left-sided mounting.

The carousels, over the years, have evolved in the production of their figures, but some remain a classic and continue to steal the spotlight decade after decade. The fairground arts have a fascination with the animal world, with the majority of the rides revolving around horses, farm animals, wild animals, and mythological figures. Some modern carousels adopted popular cartoon characters.

The concept of transportation was another popular focus of fairground artists. They were usually better at popularizing new transportation inventions, the addition of boats, planes, bicycles, and spaceships attracted a new generation of customers with every ride.

The carousels chimed melodious tunes not only to attract the children but also to conceal the mechanical noise of the merry-go-round machines. The fairground organs used by showmen in amusement rides were the improved versions of the 19th-century barrel organs used by street performers. Each year, the advancement of technology resulted in the integration of more keys and instruments. There was a musical breakthrough in the 20th century when the organs could reproduce an orchestra effect. Today, the carousels mainly cater to French nursery rhymes or classical fairground music with cheerful tunes revolving around children’s vocabulary.

One of the ancient carousels of Paris can be found in Musée des Arts Forain. A museum dedicated to fairground arts, it contains 14 carousels and several themed attractions. At the end of the tour, visitors are given a chance to ride the Velocipede Carousel, made entirely of bicycles, originally manufactured back in 1897. After 20,000 hours of restoration, the 120-year carousel seats hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. (The museum only accepts visitors through appointments, plenty of companies hold events there, like season 1, episode 7 of Emily in Paris).

Address: 53 Av. des Terroirs de France in the 12th Arrondissement.

[Musée des Arts Forains, photo credit: Wikimedia]

The city is dotted with carousels, and some hidden gems are worth the trip alone. Here is a list to get you started! Please note that many of these carousels are no longer functioning or have been closed due to the pandemic, so scout it out before you go there for any photography!

The Big List of Carousels in Paris

Here is the complete list of carousels in Paris.

  1. Carrousel de Paris (Jardin du Trocadéro)
  2. Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel (foot of the Eiffel Tower)
  3. Jardin des Tuileries Carrousel (Jardin des Tuileries)
  4. Manège du Dodo (Jardin des Plantes)
  5. Jardin du Luxembourg Carrousel 
  6. Carrousel du Parc de Bercy
  7. Carrousel des Impressionistes (Gare Montparnasse)
  8. Jardin d’Acclimatation Carrousels 
  9. Parc des Buttes Chaumont Carrousel 
  10. Jules Verne Carrousel (Parc de la Villette)
  11. Manège du Parc Carrousel 
  12. Saint-Mandé Carrousel 
  13. Carrousel Métro Saint-Paul 
  14. Place St-Pierre Carrousel (Sacré Coeur)
  15. Jardin du Ranelagh Carrousel 
  16. Carrousel 1913 (Champ de Mars)
  17. Manège Au Volant du 66 (Square des Batignolles)
  18. Manège de place de Torcy (Place de Torcy)
  19. Les Lutins Carrousel (Rue de Martyrs)
  20. Belle Epoque Carrousel (Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville)

Carousels by Arrondissement

  • 1st: Jardin des Tuileries
  • 4th: Carrousel Métro Saint-Paul / Belle Epoque Carrousel
  • 5th: Manège du Dodo
  • 6th: Jardin du Luxembourg Carousel
  • 7th: Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel / Carrousel 1913
  • 8th: Manège du Parc Monceau
  • 9th: Les Lutins Carrousel
  • 12th: Carrousel du Parc de Bercy / Saint-Mandé Carrousel
  • 15th: Carrousel des Impressionistes/ Les Petits Titi
  • 16th: Carrousel de Paris Trocadéro / Jardin d’Acclimatation Carrousels / Jardin du Ranelagh Carrousel
  • 17th: Manège Au Volant du 66
  • 18th: Place St-Pierre Carrousel / Manège de place de Torcy
  • 19th: Parc des Buttes Chaumont Carrousel / Jules Verne Carrousel

Carrousel de Paris/ Carrousel de Trocadéro

This classic, retro-inspired carousel in the Jardin du Trocadéro pays homage to some of the best Parisian architectural styles with shimmering lanterns, colorful paintings, and gilded decor. The little ones can choose their favorite seat from a variety of horses, carriages, and hot-air balloons. Oh, and don’t forget the unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower as you spin happily on the cutest horseback!

Address: In the Jardin du Trocadéro (the part closes to the Avenue des Nations Unies), 16th Arrondissement. Metro Line 6 or 9, Trocadéro stop.

Carrousel de Paris
Carrousel de Trocadéro

Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel

One of the greenest and energy-efficient carousels of the city is Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel is partly powered by solar panels, photosensors, and pedal powers. This merry-go-round situated at the foot of the Eiffel Tower is a part of every traveler’s Instagram bucket list. It houses a large selection of vehicles, wooden horses, and a mini train. 

Address: foot of the Eiffel Tower (on the Quai Jacques Chirac), 7th Arrondissement. Metro Line 6, Bir Hakiem stop.

Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel
Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel

Jardin des Tuileries Carrousel

Known as one of the prettiest carousels in Paris, the Jardin des Tuileries Carrousel stands proudly in the center of the garden. It depicts traditional French rural life. The charming belle-epoque decor blends seamlessly with modernity. Spinning slightly faster than the other Parisian rides, this musical carousel is sure to leave you happily giddy for the rest of the evening.

Address: In the Jardin des Tuileries (along the Allée de Castiglione closest to the Rue di Rivoli side of the park and not far from the Westin) , 1st Arrondissement. It is within walking distance from 2 Metro lines: Line 1 Tuileries stop, or Concorde station which is a transfer station for Line 1, Line 8, and Line 12.

Jardin des Tuileries Carrousel
Jardin des Tuileries Carrousel

Manège du Dodo

Found in the Jardin des Plantes, this peculiar Parisian carousel has found a playful way to raise environmental and climate awareness among kids. Installed next to the Museum of Natural History, this carousel sheds light on extinct and endangered animals around the globe. In place of wooden horses and cars, kids find themselves riding the Tasmanian wolf, the horned turtle, and the panda, among others.

Address: Jardin des Plantes (on the Allée Haüy near Rue Buffon) , 5th Arrondissement. Metro lines 5 and 10, Austerlitz stop which is also a train station.

Manège du Dodo Paris
Manège du Dodo

Jardin du Luxembourg Carrousel

Dating back to the 1800s, the Jardin du Luxembourg Carousel is not only the oldest but also the simplest merry-go-round of the city. Along with giraffes, deer, and wooden horses designed by Charles Garnier (the architect of Paris Opera House), this playful ride is a nod to the original jeu de bague, where kids can catch hanging rings for an extra spin on the carousel.

Address: Jardin du Luxembourg (the closest address according to Google is 9 Rue Guynemer. If you are facing the Luxembourg Palace it is to the left) 6th Arrondissement. The closest metro station is Notre-Dame des Champs on Line 12 but is very easily accessed from the Rennes station on Line 12 as well.

[Jardin du Luxembourg Carrousel, photo credit: Ernest McGray, Jr.]

Carrousel du Parc de Bercy

Located next to the Cinematique, the carousel recreates the childhood days with colorful rides of charming wooden horses, lions, cows, bulls, and even pigs. Lounging in the adjacent park with its lush green grass and quaint bridges is particularly pleasant on warm sunny days. 

Address: Parc de Bercy (closest to the corners of Rue Paul Bellmondo and Rue Jean Renoir), 12th Arrondissement. Metro Line 14, stop Cour Saint-Émilion.

Carrousel du Parc de Bercy Paris
Carrousel du Parc de Bercy

Carrousel des Impressionistes/ Les Petits Titi

A merry-go-round that is far away from the Haussmann image of Paris, the Carrousel des Impressionistes was strategically situated between the tower and the Gare Montparnasse to brighten up the grayer areas of the French Capital. Known for its impressionist panels, the ride paid homage to some great painters with reproduced paintings of Monet, Manet, Renoir, and others.

Closed in 2014, today it is replaced by a plastic version depicting Parisian scenes. Named Les Petits Titi, it is a nod to the old-fashioned slang for street urchins with an intimate knowledge of the streets. As of 2022, this carousel is also closed.

Address: Gare Montparnasse (near Av. du Maine) 15th Arrondissement. Metro stop is Montparnasse on lines 4, 6, 12 and 13 at the Montparnasse train station.

[Carrousel des Impressionistes, photo credit: Nabil Molinari, Flickr creative commons]

Jardin d’Acclimatation Carrousels

Situated in the Bois de Boulogne, Jardin d’Acclimatation houses numerous carousels, each with a different theme. The fascinating variety plunges you into great tradition and brings you back to modernity with whimsical rides, adventurous spins, and magical melodies.

Address: Bois de Boulogne (Route de la Porte Dauphine à la Porte des Sablons) 16th Arrondissement. Metro Line 2, Porte Dauphine stop.

Le Petit Carrousel at the Jardin d'Acclimatation
[Le Petit Carrousel at the Jardin d’Acclimatation, photo credit: Amaury Laporte]

Parc des Buttes Chaumont Carrousel

Unlike other charming carousels of the capital, the Buttes Chaumont merry-go-round is a hexagonal ride with a grey marquee and an incoherent selection of animals and rides. Consisting of a pink Harley Davidson, a pirate ship, a flying saucer, and a fire engine along with a goldfish and a yellow duck, this second-most modern and cheerful ride is hidden in the dense thicket of the park.

Address: Parc des Buttes Chaumont (near 58 Rue de Crimée) 19th Arrondissement. Metro Line 7b, stop Buttes Botzaris.

Jules Verne Carrousel

Straight out of one of the locomotive worlds of Jules Verne, the carousel of Parc de la Villette is filled with steampunk planes, trams, space rockets, and hot-air balloons for both curious and dreamy explorers. The first floor of the carousel even has classic wooden horses for traditional travelers.

Address: Parc de la Villette (Allée du Belvédère close to the corner of Gal de la Villette and Gal de l’Ourcq) 19th Arrondissement. Two metro lines can be used to access: Line 5, stop Porte de Pantin or Line 7 stop Porte de la Villette.

[Carousel in Parc de la Villette, photo credit Wikimedia]

Manège du Parc Monceau

The small yet vibrant carousel of Parc Monceau brightens up the garden with its many glittering bulbs. Made up of a black and white marquee, the ride contains an aquatic blue Nautilus vessel, a firetruck, a wooden tram, and black horses with beautiful golden manes.

Address: Parc Monceau (closest to Boulevard de Courcelles and Boulevard Malesherbes), 8th Arrondissement. On the Line 2 Metro, Monceau stop.

Manège du Parc Monceau
[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Saint-Mandé Carrousel

Welcome to the largest playground in eastern Paris. If you’re looking for unusual vehicles such as miniature Harleys, then the Saint-Mandé Carrousel, hidden in the lush Bois de Vincennes, is perfect for you! This retro little carousel has been around since the end of the 19th century and has stood the test of time despite quite a few element replacements.

Address: Bois de Vincennes, 12th Arrondissement. Metro Line 1, Chateau de Vincennes stop.

Carrousel Métro Saint-Paul

Situated on one of the busiest shopping streets of Paris, the Carrousel Métro Saint-Paul is a modern merry-go-round centered around the theme of transportation. Filled with motorbikes, cars, spaceships, and planes, the carousel transports children to a fantasy land with its simple design and neon lights.

Address: 135 Rue Saint-Antoine, 4th Arrondissement. Metro Line 7, Pont Marie stop.

Carrousel Métro Saint-Paul Paris

Place St-Pierre Carrousel

Transporting you back to the world of Amélie Poulain, this Montmartre carousel has the perfect old-world charm. With mesmerizing Venetian scenes, wooden horses, coaches, and gondola rides, the 18th-century merry-go-round has everything to fill up your touristic hearts with joy. And don’t forget to bring your cameras for the ultimate Parisian photograph with a picturesque backdrop of the Sacré Coeur Basilica.

Address: In Place Saint-Pierre in Square Louise-Michel (between Rue Foyatier and Rue Ronsard near the Funiculaire de Montmartre), 18th Arrondissement. On the Line 2 Metro, Anvers stop.

Place St-Pierre Carrousel at night in the 18th arrondissement near Sacré-Cœur.
Place St-Pierre Carrousel in the 18th arrondissement near Sacré-Cœur.

Jardin du Ranelagh Carrousel

One of the two oldest carousels of the capital, the carousel of Jardin du Ranelagh was installed in 1913. Unfortunately, the beautiful wooden horses were stolen some 40 years ago. The new horses, although not wooden, are quite similar to the original ones. Operated by pushing it around by hand, this carousel also pays homage to the Middle Ages equestrian game of catching rings with a wooden stick.

Address: Jardin du Ranelagh (1 Av. Prudhon) 16th Arrondissement. Metro Line 9, Ranelagh stop.

[Jardin du Ranelagh Carousel, photo credit Wikimedia]

Carrousel 1913

Undoubtedly the most energy-efficient carousel of Paris is Carrousel 1913. Run by human energy through pedaling, this carousel was installed way back in 1913. Situated a hop, skip and jump away from the Eiffel Tower in Champs de Mars, the comfortable wooden horses of this ride were carved by the Limonaire brothers (fairground and organ builders). It also gives you a try at the Middle Ages game of catching rings with wooden sticks.

Address: Champ de Mars (Av. Charles Risler) 7th Arrondissement.

Manège Au Volant du 66

The enigmatic carousel at Square des Batignolles contains miniature and vintage versions of Bus No 66 (which runs daily through the neighborhood) along with a boat, a flying plane, vintage cars, there are some vintage Disney characters like Donald Duck in a boat and Dumbo. Despite the incoherent theme, the carousel reinvents the imagination of the little drivers and pilots of the future.

Address: Square des Batignolles (144bis Rue Cardinet), 17th Arrondissement. Metro Line 14, Pont Cardinet stop.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Manège de place de Torcy

Although it has inconsistent decoration (like many modern ones), this carousel is a joyful addition to the 18th Arrondissement’s working class. Situated next to a newly renovated market, the ride is surprisingly square and a mix of Disney, Asterix, and Hello Kitty characters. And as they say, carousels reflect their neighborhood, the Manège de place de Torcy does give out an impression of being in a dire need of repair. 

Address: Place de Torcy (near Rue de l’Évangile) 18th Arrondissement. Metro Line 12, Marx Dormoy stop.

Les Lutins Carrousel

With disconnected themes painted on the panels, this quaint little carousel has some of the classic cartoon characters such as Noddy, Nemo, and Hello Kitty. The rides are a mix of animals and vehicles, ranging from elephants and bicycles to Bugs Bunny and pirate ships. 

Address: 60 Rue de Martyrs in Place Lino Ventura, 9th Arrondissement. It is close to 2 metros lines: Lines 2/12 stop Pigalle or Line 2, stop Anvers.

Belle Epoque Carrousel

One of the most beautiful and old-fashioned merry-go-rounds of Paris, the Belle Epoque Carrousel makes a seasonal appearance during special events. Usually found in the winter months, the formidable backdrop of Hôtel-de-Ville paints a typical Parisian scene. One of the few carousels with two floors, it offers horses and other animals, carriages, teacups, and vehicles on the turnstiles. 

Address: Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 4th Arrondissement. Metro Lines 1 and 11, Hôtel de Ville stop.

Belle Epoque Carrousel Paris
Belle Epoque Carrousel

For your next trip to Paris, call out to the inner kid in you and reserve a day in your Parisian itinerary for the ultimate carousel experience. There is something magical about spinning in a carousel in Paris, not only does it bring happiness to children but also creates some of the most unforgettable memories of a trip. They may not be the main attraction, but while strolling the streets of the French capital, carousels continue to remain a delightful sight, all the way from lush parks to lively squares.

Illustration of Carousels and Eiffel Tower

Bring the magic of Parisian Carousels home

I created a FREE Checklist of all the carousels that you can download (pdf).

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Carousels in Paris Trips web story!

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16 Comments

  1. I’d love to visit one of these! That photo of Carrousel de Trocadéro is soo pretty with all of the fall leaves! I never knew the history of these though, it’s super interesting!

  2. Just WOW. This post you have written on these magnificent carousels in Paris took my breath away. Carousels give me such wonderful memories as a child. Your post took me right back to those feelings as a child. Thank you for that.

  3. I love architecture and old things and these carousels are so gorgeous! I would love to see them all in real life.

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