Fete Paradiso: A vintage Parisian wonderland on Governors Island

The bicycle carousel in Fete Paradiso is only one of two in the world. Credit: Bess Adler
The bicycle carousel in Fete Paradiso is only one of two in the world. Credit: Bess Adler

Have you ever wanted to live in a French film? Did you wistfully watch Midnight in Paris, wishing you could time-travel back a century to early 20th-century Paris?

You’re in luck: A veritable paradise for francophiles and history romantics will be at Governor’s Island every weekend this summer as Fete Paradiso, a carnival of more than a dozen antique rides and carousels, makes its American debut in New York City.

The carnival’s producer, Tristan Duval, proudly touts the authenticity of the museum-caliber vintage carousels, flying swings and carnival rides, but notes the rides have all been carefully augmented to adhere to safety codes and regulations.

According to Duval, this is the first time all of these rides have been together in one place: they come from two disparate collections that have in the past competed for business and attention. Duval’s proposal to join forces has resulted in the most elaborate iteration of the Fete Paradiso yet.

Duval said it was a very emotional experience for him, to see his beloved childhood paradise in front of the New York City skyline.

His hope is that the Fête will fill the same role it filled in the small town in Normandy where he grew up, as a social nexus for adults and children alike.

“When the Fete appeared,” Duval said, “it was where all the people met. People found friendship, fell in love. It was the way to meet each other, get to know each other, meet each other’s families.”

Cycling enthusiasts — that’s you, Citibike defenders — may be delighted by the late 19th-century bicycle carousel. It was first built in Paris over a century ago to encourage the use of what was at the time a dynamic new mode of transportation.

The only other bicycle carousel in the world was featured in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”

Film nerds will also enjoy the early 20th-century Music-Hall Bal Guzzler, a decidedly unromantic name for a carnival game featuring caricatures of beloved icons of the time, including Charlie Chaplin and Maurice Chevalier.

Entry to the Fete is free. Each ride costs $3. Refreshments are being provided by Le Gamin.

 

If you go

Fete Paradiso

Governors Island

Saturdays and Sundays

10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

July 13 – September 29

From Manhattan: The first ferry leaves at 10 a.m. from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street. Return ferries run every half hour until 7 p.m.

From Brooklyn: The first ferry leaves at 10:30 a.m. from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Atlantic Avenue. Return ferries run every half hour until 7 p.m.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



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