Last Updated on 30th June 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
I don’t know what it is about carousels (especially Parisian carousels), but they always manage to spin me right back around to my childhood. (Ha- no more puns- I promise!) As such, the merry go rounds are always a joy to photograph and regularly end up on my Instagram feed! Here’s your complete guide to finding the most picturesque Carousels in Paris.
- A brief history of Carousels in Paris
- Trocadero Carousel (Carrousel de Paris)
- Eiffel Tower Carousel (Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel)
- Hôtel de Ville Carousel
- Jardin des Plantes Carousel (Dodo Manège)
- Sacré-Coeur Carousel (Carrousel de Saint-Pierre)
- Jardin des Tuileries Carousel
- Parc Monceau Carousel (Le Manège du Parc Monceau)
- Jules Verne Merry Go Round (Le Manège Jules Verne)
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A brief history of Carousels in Paris
In total, there are around twenty carousels, dotted around the city. The 1900s is often considered to be the point when public interest and mechanics meant that carousels reached their golden age. Often situated close to many tourist attractions, incidentally, the word in French for carousel (or merry-go-round) is ‘Manège‘.
If you prefer vintage carousels, then why not check out the Fairground Museum while taking your carousel tour? The private museum contains the largest assortment of fairground rides in the World (including vintage carousels). When photographing Parisian carousels, I prefer to go early in the morning to capture the carousels without any people! For more photography tips, check out this travel photography gear guide.
One particularity of Parisian carousels that you might discover is that they turn anti-clockwise. Most carousels in North America and mainland Europe turn anti-clockwise, whereas carousels in the UK and Australia turn clockwise.
No one is quite sure as to why this difference arose, though there are, of course, many theories as to why it did. The most likely reason that carousels go clockwise in the UK is that it is natural to mount a horse from the left hand side.
Meanwhile, when it comes to counter clockwise carousels, one of the more popular theories is that, in the US, catch-the-ring models were created whereby you had to throw a ring while on the carousel. As most people are right handed, the device was made so that you could hang on with your right hand and throw with your left.
Last but not least, it’s said by many that the difference between a carousel and a merry-go-round is that a merry-go-round turns clockwise while a carousel turns anti-clockwise. In Australia, merry-go-rounds are referred to as the ‘hurdy-gurdy’.
Trocadero Carousel (Carrousel de Paris)
Sitting right next to the great water mirror that is the Warsaw Fountain, the carousel at Trocadéro is easily one of my favourites in Paris. Styled in traditional wood and illustrated with Parisian scenes, this is one of the more vintage looking carousels in the city.
Trocadero is also the perfect place to head to for a Parisian sunrise… After all, the Jardins du Trocadero offers a breathtakingly beautiful reflection of the Eiffel Tower thanks to the impressive central feature, the Fountain of Warsaw. The largest fountain in Paris, when the sprinklers aren’t on, the water essentially creates a perfect mirror!
Eiffel Tower Carousel (Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel)
Situated right below the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, this carousel provides the perfect opportunity to take ‘that’ shot of the Eiffel Tower featuring carousel. Don’t forget to angle your shot so that you add some palm trees! The carousel itself is home to all sorts of wooden horses and is meant to be powered via solar energy.
The merry go round is also known as Carousel XI. Should you visit during the springtime, be sure not to miss the cherry blossoms in Paris while in the area. Come nighttime, the entire area is lit up by the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, and one of the best long exposure shots in the city can be captured here.
Hôtel de Ville Carousel
The Carousel at Hôtel de Ville (Paris’ iconic town hall) is probably the Carousel to rule them all. The light in the evening is perfect here; think harsh shadows against the pretty tones of the carousel. This merry-go-round is very similar to the design of the one located at Trocadéro. Please note that the Hôtel de Ville carousel isn’t always in situ!
Though once more of a permanent fixture than the seasonal carousel, now the Hôtel de Ville is only set up for events and special occasions. Elsewhere in the arrondissement, you’ll soon discover that Le Marais is one of the chicest areas of Paris and is filled with medieval-esque streets and boutique shops.
Jardin des Plantes Carousel (Dodo Manège)
The Dodo Manege carousel that sits in the middle of Jardin des Plantes is by far the most unusual in Paris, if not the world. And that’s because this is a carousel dedicated to extinct and endangered animals. Is there any other carousel in the World where you can ride on a dodo or Triceratops?
The Dodo Manege carousel was erected at the turn of the 20th-century and has delighted people of all ages ever since. Situated in the 5th arrondissement, close to Gare d’Austerlitz, the gardens are part of a larger culture complex comprising of the Natural History Museum, Mineral Room, and Greenhouses.
Sacré-Coeur Carousel (Carrousel de Saint-Pierre)
The Sacré-Coeur Carousel is situated at the very base of the Sacré-Coeur. Sitting in pride of place beneath the ecclesiastical building, on a parvis known as Place St-Pierre, the carousel creates the perfect framing to create postcard-perfect images of Montmartre…
The permanent Montmartre carousel can be found close to the metro station of Anvers and features scenes of Venice on its painted roof. Meanwhile, wooden horses are the seating of choice. Elsewhere in Montmartre, i.e. the 18th arrondissement of Paris, there’s plenty to see and do, including getting a feel for the ‘whimsical’ Paris village feel of old.
Jardin des Tuileries Carousel
Close to the Louvre Museum and in the very heart of Jardin des Tuileries, Paris’ answer to New York’s Central Park, the merry go round in Jardin des Tuileries is one of the most beautiful in the Île de France region. Traditional in decor, the Parisian manège features wooden horses and upper panels of French rural life (including dancing scenes).
Parc Monceau Carousel (Le Manège du Parc Monceau)
Truth be told, one of the lesser-known, and yet still beautiful, carousels in Paris can be found within the 8th arrondissement of the city. Bright and colourful, this merry-go-round truly pops against the vibrant greens of Monceau Park (also known as Parc Monceau in French).
The green space itself is one of the prettiest parks in the city and is filled with 19th-century follies and a maze of secret walkways, perfect for escaping the crowds of the city for a few hours. Located in the 8th arrondissement of the city, it’s the perfect place to read a book, sit and relax, or enjoy a quiet lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the major monuments of the area.
Jules Verne Merry Go Round (Le Manège Jules Verne)
Located in the 19th arrondissement of the city, in the heart of Parc de la Villette, the Jules Verne carousel is dedicated to the fantastic steampunk world of the man who came from Nantes. All weird and wonderful machinery, hot air balloons, and even a lion, this Parisian carousel is open every day of the year.
Did you enjoy reading about some of ‘the best Carousels in Paris?’ Pin it now, read it again later!