When you are accustomed to Halloween in the U.S., the festivities are always a bit disappointing in France. Each year, it seems more people are dressing up, but the costumes are not always so imaginative. Ghosts and witches… drunkards – oh wait, maybe those were not costumes?
This year, my friends and I decided to do something to get in the Halloween spirit. We planned a visit to Le Manoir de Paris, Paris’s official haunted house.
Located in the 10th arrondissement near Gare de l’Est, this large “manor house” used to house the shops for an earthenware factory. The impressive ceramic decorations are still visible in the entryway and waiting area of the building. (Be forewarned that past this entryway, you are unfortunately but quite understandably not allowed to take photographs.)
You can buy tickets online or at Le Manoir (€20 for adults, €18 for under 18s and students, €15 for children). Even if you buy tickets in advance, do expect to wait (among gouls and ghosts) before entering the house. Fortunately, once you enter, there is no more waiting: you enter in groups of 6 or 7 people and asked to stay close together as you are shuttled along in an orderly fashion through 2 floors and almost 10,000 square feet.
Your visit to the Manoir will expose you to 17 legends from the last several centuries of Parisian history, in the course of about 30 – 45 minutes. Although there are some mechanized props, the strength of the experience is the real, live actors who bring the legends to life.
Tours are generally in French, but English tours can be requested if you call in advance. (I would not suggest e-mailing, as when I e-mailed, I only got a response a full week later.) If you are not fully fluent in French, or even if you are, I would highly recommend reading about the legends before you go. You can find them here.
So here are the important questions:
Is it scary?
Le Manoir is not recommended for under 10s, pregnant women or those with epilepsy or cardiac or other health problems. I do think this warning is wise. I was certainly scared at a few points. Things (and people) jump out at you. It’s very dark and disorienting. There is one “tunnel of death” where – I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say I would not recommend Le Manoir for claustrophobics either.
Is it worth it?
Yes and no. If you are a big fan of haunted houses and Disneyland-esque adventures, definitely give it a whirl. The organization of Le Manoir is impressive and the actors certainly work hard. They really must be exhausted by the end of their shifts. And you might actually learn something – though don’t expect to learn a whole lot about Paris history.
On the other hand, the cost is steep. When you see the work that goes into this production, I suppose I understand why the price is so high. But it does seem to me prohibitively expensive for a family outing.
All in all, I only had one real complaint. I don’t do well with others invading my personal space. I know, it’s my American sensibilities. But this was all about invading personal space. Ironically, at the start of the tour, they tell you not to touch anyone or anything and assure you that no one will touch you. Here is the FAQ on their site:
“Q: Are the actors at Le Manoir de Paris allowed to touch you?
The actors of Le Manoir de Paris will not touch you, however, they do get very close. Occasionally you may brush up against their costumes or props. You may also come into contact with some of the sets.”
This is just not true. They brush up again you quite a bit. And even when they aren’t actually touching you, they are breathing on you, often with their mouths about 1 centimeter from yours. Yes, it makes it scarier, but if this is not your thing, I might not recommend Le Manoir to you.
Le Manoir de Paris
18 rue de Paradis
Have you visited Le Manoir de Paris? What did you think?