office party at The Pavillons of Bercy – Museum of Fairground Arts

We ended up taking the express train (the RER A) across the city to Bercy Village, a place I like very much and have chronicled many times on this blog. As previously mentioned, there was a strike that day but most workers stayed at home so the trains, running on reduced service, were not full.

Just beyond the village, there’s another place I didn’t know about. It’s called Les Pavillons de Bercy – Musée des Arts Forains. This is where our office party was held. Bercy has an interesting history. Once a collection of warehouses reserved for wine merchants, it is located along the river Seine on the outskirts of the 12th arrondissement. This area received, stored and redistributed wines and spirits from as early as 1800. Barrels from the country’s wine regions arrived by boat, were unloaded there and stored in cellars called chais.

Par éd. Gondry rue Roubo Paris — Scan old postcard 1908, Domaine public

It was very well organized. It was, after all, the French wine trade. When the railway line between Paris and Lyon opened in 1849, rail transport developed and Bercy station received wine from Provence, the South, the Rhone Valley and Burgundy in wooden barrels placed on flat wagons.

Between 1875 and 1914, the railway ensured almost all of the wine transport. Barrel wagons were pulled by horses and then by locotractors. Today you can still see the rails that were purposely kept on the ground.

When water transport developed, boats conveying wines from Algeria, Spain and Portugal were unloaded onto barges in Rouen then travelled up the Seine to the port of Bercy. It was the largest wine market in the world.

The Decline

In the mid-1960s, the City of Paris planned to develop this land and leases were not renewed. The largest and most dynamic wine merchants moved to the city’s periphery. (above source: Wikipedia)

Today, the old stone cellars have been tastefully converted into shops, restaurants and venues. Bercy Village looks like this:

The Pavillons of Bercy, also a converted space from the former warehouses, houses a collection of objects from funfairs and fairgrounds from the 19th century. Containing a variety of objects dating between 1850 and 1950 including amusement rides, fair stalls, merry-go-rounds and carousels, swings, hundred-year-old bicycles and more, the museum was created by Jean-Paul Favand, an actor and antiques dealer, from his private collection.

We played old-fashioned games like this one above, rode on the merry-go-round, ate finger food, drank champagne and socialized, then danced into the wee hours of the morning. Our employer paid for taxis home.

me on the right, one of my colleagues on the left.

a perfect summer’s day

The weather was so perfect I wanted to preserve it in a bottle: cobalt-blue sky, blazing sun and a cool breeze blowing in from somewhere. Impossible to stay indoors! So I jumped on the metro and crossed town to my favorite large park in Paris.


I make only one change on the metro, from the number one central line to the number 14 line. There are two metro stops that serve the Parc de Bercy, one at either end: Cour Saint-Émilion which takes you directly to Bercy Village, and Bercy, at the far end of the park. Personally, I prefer Bercy because it allows me to walk through the elongated, beautiful park that runs parallel to the river Seine.


Bercy Village is located at the end of Bercy Park (metro stop Cour Saint-Émilion on the number 14 line.) Tastefully designed and spread out along a single pedestrian street, it houses an even number of shops and restaurants. It’s what I call a “feel good” place.


Here’s a favorite shop of mine. Fragonard sells gorgeous soaps, bath products, body creams as well as clothes, jewelry and a few home furnishings. If you’re looking for gifts, this is the place to go. It’s also beautifully air-conditioned.


Their signature glycerine soaps cost 5 euros apiece. I bought a green one (Verveine which is lemon verbena). I also bought a gift box of four jasmine soaps for only 12 euros per box. The prices at Fragonard are reasonable, the quality excellent.


To see more photos of Bercy Park (and the open-air swimming pool on the river Seine) from a blog post written three summers ago, click here –


Bercy Park and Village

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The only reason I don’t visit this park more often is because it’s located at the opposite end of the city from where I live.  I live on the west side, Bercy Park is on the east side in the 12th arrondissement.  It’s true that I have the magnificent Bois de Boulogne at my doorstep, so I’m not exactly sans park.  But Bercy has a nice feel to it.  It’s smaller, more relaxed, and easier to navigate than the Bois de Boulogne which is a sprawling, amorphous-shaped domain containing ponds, a horse stable, a zoo and botanical garden, small amusement park for kids, meandering paths through woodland, a hippodrome and, at night, the largest gathering of prostitutes and clients in the city.  Oh yes, the Bois de Boulogne has something for everyone, offering urbanites a one-stop shop for all their recreational needs.

The other day I crossed the city to visit Bercy Park. Here are a few photos –

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If you look at the ground you’ll see the original tracks laid down in the early 1800s. These were used to transport merchandise.  Bercy, which runs alongside the Seine River, originally served as a warehouse to receive, store and redistribute wines and spirits. Barrels from the country’s wine regions arrived by boat to the capital and were unloaded and stored in wine cellars called chais.

What I like is the segmenting of this long, rectangular park.

Bercy 028Lots of places to picnic, read a book….or write that memoir!Bercy 008There are also modern apartment buildings on the north side. Sometimes you get tired of looking at all that 19th-century hausmanian stuff.Bercy 035If you arrive, like I do, at the Bercy metro stop, you stroll the entire length of the park and then climb these stairs….Bercy 037cross over a road by way of a bridge and then arrive in more parkland.Bercy 049

When you finally reach the other end, you’re rewarded by a tastefully designed area called the Coeur Saint Emilion, better known as Bercy Village, in which to shop, eat and drink.  (At Christmas it’s all lit up with fairy lights and decorations.)  Bercy Village also includes the original wine cellars that have been renovated.  At this end is another metro station called Cour Saint-Émilion.  I highly recommend this feel-good place for a half-day outing.

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