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Laughter sounds the same in any language. Though English-speaking children may not understand the dialogue of a French puppet show, the characters, colors, and carrying on easily translates into a fun time. The marionette is part of a treasured tradition in France. Its central character, Guignol, dates back to the early 19th century and the ingenuity of an unemployed silk worker trying to attract customers to his roadside dental practice. Puppetry has since blossomed into a diverse art form. Its many interpretations entertain the young and young at heart in Paris almost every day of the year.
The Marionnettes du Champ de Mars is located just 500 meters from the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The puppet theater was built in the style of Napoleon III and is without a doubt one of the most attractive in Paris. The team puts on classic shows like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as well as its original creations like The Magic Seeds and Guignol in Paradise. The theater stages its daily performances using its cast of over 300 marionettes.
Open daily (even during holidays) at 3:15pm and 4:15pm.
The Théâtre des Marionnettes du jardin du Luxembourg has been in business since 1933, when the famous Guignol first took to the stage with the help of the theater’s founder, Robert Desarthis. Today, his son, Françis-Claude Desarthis, is carrying on the family tradition of entertaining children and adults alike. This large theater – the largest in Paris with a capacity of 275 spectators – is housed in a modern building which means that, thankfully, it’s heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer.
Open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, and school holidays (usually at 11:00am and 3:15pm).
The sheath marionettes at the Théâtre de Marionnettes du Parc Georges Brassens are genuine works of art. Sculpted from boxwood and with glittering glass eyes, they have an uncanny liveliness and presence. The modern repertoire of plays are reimagined classics that employ a variety of techniques – Polinchelle, the character from 17th-century Neapolitan theater, travels to New York, for example, in one of their original creations. The star puppeteer is Philippe Casidanus, who has more than 20 years of experience in the game.
Open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and during the holidays at 3:30pm and 4:30pm.
The Marionnettes du Parc Montsouris theater is located just next to the park’s pony stand, so, if you’re with the kids, expect one treat to follow the other. The theater was recently refurbished to include more comfortable seating, LED lighting, and a bunch of jazzy special effects – it’s also heated throughout the winter. Be advised that it’s best to arrive 15 minutes before the show to get a good seat.
Open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, and school holidays (usually at 11:00am, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, and 5:00pm).
L’Ogresse is a theater for puppets, but also a popular and lively venue where musicians, spoken-word artists, comedians, actors, clowns, filmmakers, and authors take to the stage. More than that, it is also a restaurant which serves great food, even on evenings (from 7:00pm) when there aren’t any shows on. This is a brilliant choice for an alternative night out on the town in Paris.
Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 6:00pm (can be opened at lunch for groups of 10 or more).
Entry to many of the performances is free.
Le Mouffetard Théâtre des Arts de la Marionnette runs just like a regular theater, the only exception being that the characters that appear on stage are wooden on purpose. Different shows occupy the calendar for weeks at a time so there is a constantly changing set of stories and creative approaches to the art of the marionette. Since 1987, it has also been a school for aspiring puppeteers, producing many of the talents that are keeping the practice alive in France. Festivals, conferences, and workshops are also a large part of the theater’s agenda.
Opening varies depending on the performance – see website for details.
Price varies depending on the performance (usually between 5€ and 18€).
Les Marionnettes de Paris may be located on the outskirts of the city but it is in the northern portion of the Bois de Vincennes, which can be considered as the family portion of the park. It’s close to the zoo and the pony center so can be incorporated into a fun family day out. The theater is heated and can accommodate up to a hundred children and their parents. All of the classics of the genre are staged by the experienced team.
Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and during school holidays at 3:30pm and 4:30pm.
The Marionettes des Champs Élysées is dedicated to bringing alive the character of Guignol for generation after generation. The team embrace the traditions of the past while keeping their performances modern and fresh. Helpfully, the theater is located on one of Paris’ most famous streets, so there should be no problem finding it. It is a popular destination for holidaymakers with children, especially over the winter holidays when the Champs- Élysées is taken over by a vast Christmas market.
Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and during school holidays at 3:00pm. 4:00pm, and 5:00pm.