Paris is rather like a merry-go-round. With its 20 arrondissements (districts) spiralling outwards in the form of a snail’s shell, exploring this city is rather like a ride on a carousel. Ah! Strolling through the capital’s bustling streets, visiting its colourful avenues, roaming the busy Haussmann boulevards, shopping in the Galeries Lafayette, jogging in the Buttes Chaumont, getting lost in the lanes of the Marais, climbing up to Montmartre, visiting the Arc de Triomphe ... all this often provokes a gentle vertigo like a ride on wooden carousel horse from yesteryear. Yes, Paris’ merry-go-rounds are an integral part of the City of Light’s landscape along with her Wallace fountains, Hector Guimard’s art nouveau Metro stations, and iconic news kiosks. Coming across one instantly conjures up a picture of old Paris.
The carousel in the Parc Monceau glitters with a thousand lights while children ride in a Nautilus inspired by Jules Verne’s famous novel. In the Jardin des Plantes, toddlers hop onto endangered animals or ride a cute panda. Montmartre’s merry-go-round invariably conjures up Amélie Poulain with its Venetian-style thoroughbreds dating back to the 18th century.
In the Tuileries, you may be surprised to come across an ostrich. And from the carousel in Trocadéro, you can admire the Eiffel Tower - not bad, eh! Or enjoy a ride on the Carousel de Luxembourg, the oldest ‘Pantruche’ (1879) merry-go-round whose horses were designed by the same architect who designed Paris’ famous opera house - Charles Garnier. But you have to admit all these carousels can turn your head. They give the impression of going forward when in fact you are going round and round “in the whirlwind of life” as Jeanne Moreau sung in Truffaut’s ‘Jules et Jim’.
By the way, did you know that Parisian merry-go-rounds have a peculiarity? Unlike other carousels in France, they do not possess a ‘Mickey tail’ [NB: a pompom which, if caught, gives you a free ride]. The owners claim that a health and safety directive prohibits this practice...but who knows! In any case, this should not prevent lovers of beautiful real estate from making a grab at the pompom if the urge takes them after reading this issue.
Olivier Delcroix, editor-in-chief of Le Figaro / Le Figaroscope
copyright : Jean-Christophe Marmara