Jean Paul Favand

« Laughter is not taken seriously »

Photographie de Jean Paul Favand Archive - Jean Paul Favand Photo de classe d'archive de Jean Paul Favand fleche

The History of the
pavillons de

The history of the Pavillons de Bercy-Musée des Arts Forains is closely linked to its creator’s life, Jean Paul Favand , a collector of heritage from the performing and fairground arts, as well as an exhibition designer.

Jean Paul Favand a perdu le tiret de son prénom dès la naissance. Cette disparition ne l'a pourtant pas trop inquiété et il s'est très vite accommodé d'être le seul Jean-Paul dont le prénom s'écrit sans tiret.

The Musée des Arts Forains was first established in Gentilly (1), then moved to the 15th arrondissement of Paris (2) and finally settled in 1996 in an ancient wine storage facility in Bercy, the “Chais Lheureux”. (3)

Carte postale ancienne représentant des négociants au sein des entrepôts de Bercy Photographie ancienne montrant les chais de Bercy en exploitation fleche

The "Lheureux" warehouses : a wine storage

The Bercy neighbourhood is mostly known as a festive area in the 19th century. The Joyeux-Bercy, which was at the time beyond the borders of Paris, benefited from the privilege of tax removal on wine. Naturally, “guinguettes” were established there, along with the main wine traders. Wine was thus actively sold and drunk.

History of Bercy


Dans le quartier de Bercy, les tonneaux de vins arrivaient par bateaux, sur le Seine. Ils étaient ensuite acheminés à l'aide de wagons jusqu'aux chais. C'est pourquoi vous pouvez encore apercevoir des rails dans la rue privée des Pavillons de Bercy - Musée des Arts Forains.

Vue du Manège de Vélocipèdes à l'occasion d'une soirée événementielle Vue du Théâtre du Merveilleux à l'occasion d'un cocktail

Now called Pavillons de Bercy, the site brings back to life past festivities by being a lively place of memory for the performing arts heritage. It welcomes over 300 000 visitors every year for evening events, guided tours and special openings (for example for the Festival du Merveilleux).

Détails de trois sujets de manège

With its documentation centre and restoration workshops, the museum is a place of discoveries and preservation.  Jean Paul Favand stages there his objects thanks to cutting-edge technologies.

Portrait de Jean Paul Favand à l'époque du Tribulum Jean Paul Favand devant le manège de vélocipèdes


As a curiosities exhibitor, an objects matchmaker, a cellar master and a master of ceremonies, Jean Paul Favand, is a self-taught man who followed his own path.

Jean Paul Favand, a unique journey

Jean Paul Favand

Photographie de Jean Paul Favand et Robert Doisneau Photographie de Jean Paul Favand au Musée des Arts Forains par Robert Doisneau fleche

Robert Doisneau

His artistic approach and his interest for curiosities led him to meet many artists. For instance, he interacted with surrealists such as Dali, providing him with objects for his museum in Figueres, and became among other well acquainted with Doisneau or César.

Robert Doisneau et Jean Paul Favand partageaient une complicité nourrie par le goût des lieux vivants.
Doisneau a pris de nombreuses photographies du premier Musée des Arts Forain à Gentilly et a également suivi l'installation dans le 15ème arrondissement.

Jean Paul Favand devant le manège de vélocipèdes La statue de cire d'Yvette Gilbert provenant du Musée Grévin fleche

Yvette Guilbert

As his collection was constantly growing, it became of utmost importance to restore and properly store his authentic “objets d’art”. Thus the idea of a commemorative site for amusement artefacts bloomed, in order to keep his collection alive and preserve it for the future.

Affiche de l'expostion consacrée aux Carrousel-Salons au Tribulum Bistrot scénographie du Tribulum Bistrot de Jean Paul Favand

Thanks to his experience in designing over fifty interactive exhibitions, and creating a themed “bistrot” (bar) called the Tribulum, Jean Paul Favand gave birth to an innovating museography and created a lively museum.

cheval et plumes

A new kind of

A very lively museography

This entertaining museum is different from traditional cultural institutions. It can be destabilizing to discover a museum without labels or display cases; where it is possible to touch the art pieces which are staged around the visitors.

A new kind of museum


Jambe de géant - Théâtre du Merveilleux Restauration d'une toile de théâtre mécanique

The art restoration work

In order to make these objects accessible and bring about a dialogue with the public, they were carefully selected among thousands in storage. Then Jean Paul Favand worked meticulously on positioning and matchmaking and used lighting in order to reveal their evocative power to the visitors.


Dans notre univers fantastique, après avoir parcouru 7 lieues, l’une des jambes du géant se repose.
Cette jambe de géant a poussé sur un arbre. En avez-vous déjà vu ? Vous imaginez le nombre de probabilités qu’il a fallu à la nature pour qu’elle fasse pousser à la juste place et dans ses justes proportions le pied, le talon, le mollet, le genou et la cuisse ?
Aujourd’hui elle est habitée par un nain logé dans une enseigne de bottier du 19ème siècle.
Jean Paul Favand passe souvent près de l'arbre où il l'a trouvée, afin de voir si la deuxième jambe n'est pas en train de pousser.

Attraction - Manège de Vélocipèdes entrée du Musée des Arts Forains

To fully apprehend the very special nature of the place, the visitors need to be guided in order to immerse themselves into those out-of-time sceneries. Through the tours, the visitors also participate into the scenography and metaphorically become actors by entering each room through theater curtains. Each carousel offers a scenario, as in the Venitian rooms where our visitors become mechanical dolls on the music box melody of a gondola ride…
It is this interaction between the amusement artefacts and the visitors that embodies the concept of a lively and entertaining museum.


Dans chaque salle ou sur chaque manège, le visiteur participe inconsciemment à un scénario, il est mis en scène et devient acteur de ses propres rêves.

Photographie de l'

"The elf", a digital installation

An innovative

In parallel to 1900s showmen who used techniques inherited from the Industrial Revolution, Jean Paul Favand is turned toward the future using the latest technological innovations to give life to his objects.

Jean Paul Favand devant le console de Naguère Daguerre#2 fleche

Jean Paul Favand
The conception of project "Virtualia"

Portrait de Jean Paul Favand

« Here, the past meets the future, which enables me to tame the modern technologies I use in my object-staging approach » Jean Paul Favand

Dessin technique de la loterie foraine ayant servi de base pour le Jeu de la Licorne Dessin de conception de l'installation pour le jeu de la Licorne Projection du Jeu de la Licorne

A film projection
of 8m by 12m
about the Unicorn's astrological game

This is how, thanks to the multimedia shows where magic lanterns are replaced by video projectors that Robertson’s phantasmagorias and mechanical fairground theatres can come back to life.
However, even if digital technologies offer many possibilities, it remains but a simple tool to Jean Paul Favand, whose scenography mainly takes roots in the theatrical tradition.

The approach of digital creation
Photographie de l'oeuvre Photographie de l'installation interactive pour

The interactive installation
of the "Paésine"

Jean Paul Favand develops this approach outside of the museum, through his work as a plastic and digital artist.

Discover Jean Paul Favand’s website

Vue extérieure du Carrousel Salon Wilbert

A salon-carousel

The heritage
of performing arts
and fairground arts

Carte postale ancienne représentant l'intérieur du Carrousel Salon Wilbert Carte postale ancienne représentant l'intérieur de Carrousel Salon Hippo Palace

19th-century funfairs were a social phenomenon, as important as cathedrals in the preceding centuries and television today. The fairground was the cradle of most modern forms of entertainment: theatres, music hall shows, hawkers, entertaining sports, illusionists, acrobats, jugglers, puppeteers, and many more.

A short history of Fairground Arts


Ces cartes postales anciennes témoignent de la grandeur des carrousels salons et de la richesse de leurs sculptures. Ces attractions couvertes pouvaient mesurer plus de 40m de long.

Carte postale ancienne représentant le Carrousel Salon Wilbert Carte Postale ancienne représentant le Carrousel Salon Wilbert détail d'un vélocipède fleche

The representation of technology:
a velocipede merry-go-round from the Musée des Arts Forains.

During the Belle Époque, visitors came to be entertained but also learn and discover. Through mechanical theatres, wax museums, cinemas, scientific demonstrations and other…funfairs popularised innovations and technologies.

Fairground and science : Showmen as science popularisers


Ces cartes postales anciennes témoignent de la grandeur des carrousels salons et de la richesse de leurs sculptures. Ces attractions couvertes pouvaient mesurer plus de 40m de long.

Détail d'une cariatide Boiserie de manège baroque Détail de boiserie de manège baroque

Baroque woodworks
and decorative panels

Although fairground arts were long denigrated as “popular”, they are now recognized as proper decorative art thanks to the quality and diversity of their ornaments. The past craftsmen would now be considered as artists. They had workshops with many students, catalogs were printed and exhibitions organized to present their work.

A decorative art in its own right
Vue d'ensemble des balançoires Allemandes du Musée des Arts Forains Vue d'ensemble des stands de tir du Musée des Arts Forains Détail d'un cheval de bois Détails de deux marionnettes

Subjects and attractions
in the Musée des Arts Forains

The merry-go-rounds and booths preserved by the Pavillons de Bercy are the evidence of a vast heritage. Their display brings back an atmosphere similar to 19th century funfairs.

The merry-go-rounds, booths and showfronts: an overview of fairground heritage