Kids in Paris Go Round and Round

Paris has a love affair with carousels. They are beautiful pieces of art which children love and make for a lovely activity as you explore a spectacular city.


Carousels, or merry-go-rounds, were originally made for knights to practice their skills without harming anyone. They would ride around in a circle and try to spear stationary rings. Some carousels, like the oldest carousel in Paris (Jardin de Luxembourg),  still have this option for riders.


Interesting tidbit: In the United States the carousels go counterclockwise, but in Paris, and in many other EU states, carousels go clockwise. There is much speculation as to why, but I’m not sure anyone knows for sure. Ask the kids if clockwise feels different to them.

Flying Horses Carousel in Martha's Vineyard. Oldest carousel in the US.

Flying Horses Carousel in Martha’s Vineyard. Oldest carousel in the US.

Montmartre (lovely photo by Laura Itzkowitz)

I love these beautiful colors.


Jardin de Luxembourg

This is the oldest carousel in Paris.


Riders can hold out a spear and catch the iron ring. This is how jousters practiced. Let your junior knights practice!


IDIOM: This is also the origin of the idiom: Catch the brass ring. What a great way to improve vocabulary, right? 😉


Forum les Halles


Carved by the Limonaire brothers – who previously carved fairground organs like this one.


Carousel at Bois de Vincennes and Jardin de Ranelagh


The sculptor, Gustov Bayol, had a fondness for carousel animals and this carousel shows off the farm animals he liked to carve. His family’s business “The House of Bayol” were famous creators of carousel animals like this one:



Jardin des Plantes

This is often called the Dodo carousel because the theme is animals that are extinct or near extinction.


Do you know a little boy or girl who would love to ride on this guy?


Why do we think of the Dodo bird as ‘not the sharpest knife in the drawer’? Well, the flightless bird had no predators in it’s natural habitat and so humans found them easy to approach and catch. (Though interestingly, they were not noted to be tasty.) When caught, the bird made loud screeching noises (which sounds pretty smart to me) and all the rest of the birds would come around to help. But instead of helping…this just made them easy to catch, too.


Texans will especially appreciate this guy, glyptodon, which is the ancient ancestor of the armadillo!


Square des Batignolles

Glove maker, Henri Devos, was inspired by Disney characters, Mickey Mouse and Pluto, for these wonderful carousel animals.

Here is one of his earliest works. Needless to say, since Mickey can’t be ridden on….his was abandoned for a newer design.


Musee des Arts Forains

This is carousel heaven with fourteen antique carousels!


This one made has seats of bicycles. Riders must pedal to get the carousel going! What a great way to burn off some energy and the calories from that tasty pastry!


Print a few coloring pages for your travelers to use at dinner time. Ask them to decorate their own or color their favorite from the day.

Find some fun ones at  animals, jr.

This sight has free printable coloring pages for the older kiddo.


Happy Parisian Travels – round and round and round,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist





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4 Responses

  1. Pamela Rex says:

    This tugs at my huge fascination with carousel’s!! I had no idea about so much of the history. Always learning something new!!

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