Guignol: A Classic French Puppet Show

Posted on September 3, 2007 by VINGT Editorial


Words: Pamela Price 

“Guignol, Guignol, Guignol, Guignol!!!” My ears ring with the sounds of children screaming French comments at the puppet characters on stage. No this is not a nightmare, it’s the adventures of babysitting in Paris. It’s nothing to complain about when you’re sitting on a playground bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg, soaking up the sun and practicing your basic French with the children in the sandbox.

The area is safe because there is a small fee (1 or 2 euros) to enter the gated playground and a couple of guards to whistle at the children who act out. After an hour or two of some sea-saw action and make believe fun in the petite wooden maze, you start to anticipate the four o’clock bell. Everyday when the clock strikes four, an old man rings the Guignol bell and children rush to the Marionette theatre just outside of the playground. Buy the tickets and perhaps grab a baguette avec jambon et fromage for the enchanting hour in this small puppet theatre. Every French child is familiar with the good hearted puppet, Guignol. The miniature stage design is surprisingly professional in detail and color and each puppet has its own expression that could either frighten you away or make you giggle. The stories range from The Three Little Pigs to original French puppet adventures. Everything is in French of course and if you happen to lose your way in the storyline, just remember, the bad guy always gets it in the end. Now, I endured one puppet show for each of the week for one month’s time and I’m not sure you could drag me to another performance of Les Trois Petit Cochons, but one visit to the theatre is all you need for an illuminating look at French culture for children.

Théâtre des Marionettes du Luxembourg
Rue Guynemer (Entrance), 6th
*Next to the playground
Daily shows @ 4 pm (€3)

Marionettes du Champ de Mars
Champ de Mars, 7th
Between Avenue Risler and Avenue Motte Piquet
Seasonal shows (€3)