So many French towns and villages have a carousel somewhere in the town square or close to it. Even Paris has six.

We encountered these colorful, smile-generating merry-go-rounds in several cities in Provence.

I had never given any thought to how and why they became a popular ride. Apparently, they came about due to tragedy. In 1559 King Henri II, Catherine de Medici’s husband, died in a jousting accident. That prompted the carousel to be used as a safer alternative to practicing jousting with other knights. Knights could practice spearing suspended rings with their lances, all while going around in circles on the carousel. No more practicing on real people.

Today, they are a great source of amusement for kids of all ages.

We noticed many of them in the French towns and villages had Jules Verne’s hot air balloons, space ships, and other travel items. Some were even named the Jules Verne carousel.

Did you know the carousels in America and mainland Europe travel counterclockwise, while in England they rotate clockwise? Also, traditionally the horses are mounted from the left side. Most warriors were right handed and kept their swords on their left side.

Have fun exploring and finding new ones…especially in France. They’re guaranteed to put a smile on your face as you watch kids go round and round.