The Paris House of Horrors

Le Manoir de Paris

I went to Le Manoir de Paris and paid my fee at the entrance. I was greeted by an apparently disabled man in a wheelchair. He was strapped into a straightjacket and was frothing at the mouth. I felt sorry for him as I assumed he was mentally disabled. He seemed very disturbed. I twigged it quickly though that he was only acting. This was a house of horrors in grand French style and certainly very politically incorrect. I stiffened myself for a new Parisian experience. This theatre was all about young people starting off to develop their chosen life styles in drama. This was going to be seriously good fun and of course it was. I wasn’t scared a bit, not really anyway. It got worse though as I started my tour across the floorboards towards the top floor.

It was almost dark everywhere and I had to watch my step slowly ascending the wooden stairs. I was not sure what was about to happen next. I tramped along and suddenly people leapt out of the shadows right in front and staring me in the face dressed in dowdy long gown costumes. They were heavily and horribly made up. They were realistic and intimidating and pretended to be seemingly violent people. I was shocked and on my guard to begin with. Everything would be alright though and the pub was only just across the road outside. The actors tried to scare the daylights out of me but I was not going to have any of that. Once inside, the trap was that you had to keep going. There was no going back and visitors had to endure it. I kept calm because I was a bloke!

All of course by the end was quite safe. Children will love it (sort of) and laugh at it. You need to keep your head up and be proud. All just a joke ultimately. All about frightening people to almost hysteria conducted by nice actors that were just pretending.

Le ManoirThe theatre is called ‘Le Manoir’ at No 18, Rue de Paridis, close to the Gare de L’est. The building was declared to be a Historic Monument in 1981. The structure was originally the main centre of the manufacture of exquisite floor tiles by Faienceries Boulenger de Choisy-le -Roi. The lower walls of the premises are decorated beautifully by their well- known products. Take a deep breath before you start the experience to admire them.

The Manoir is the home of a collection of 17 or so horror acts. They are based on locations in Paris and they change from day by day. The Pere – Lachaise cemetery is one and others based on the Catacombs, Parisian sewers and even the Metro train system. They will shock and frighten a bit if you let them. Once you start the drama you have to endure it all, there is no turning round until you get to the exit. You have been warned.

The Manoir is well run and efficient and sticks determinably to a timetable. It operates as a kind of apprenticeship for drama students with an obscure sense of humour. Perhaps they should all get a job somewhere else. The costumes suggest a much earlier time period and their thick make up is designed to shock. The young actors are confident, close up and have practiced many times their scary art form.

As you pass upwards through the darkened floors, the show gets more frightening. Right at the top you get to the dramatic and politically very incorrect asylum. People behind wired cages clawing at you.  There are apparent mannequin bodies lying strapped to mattresses until they leap up and try to grab you. The Halloween show is supposed to be the scariest of all.

When you begin, the staff put you into groups of four. They find people of the same language that can provide humorous comfort for each other and friendly companionship. You need to stick together as you progress. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted and nor are pregnant women or people who admit to a heart disorder. Be careful if you are claustrophobic. Photography inside is not permitted hence the lack of illustration in this article.

When you have finished and got back to the real world outside, the actors are all collected together to greet everyone in a really friendly style. They all have their costumes still on with their makeup and provide very good humoured comfort. They have enjoyed it as much as visitors have been frightened by it. It is a good opportunity to tell ‘em that you weren’t really scared at all. A number of children said how frightened they felt but for some it was their third visit.

It was a bit expensive at 34 Euros a head but worth it for the experience. Tell the grandchildren about it and show them how cool you were. It is a classic Parisian House of Horrors and makes for a real tremblingly fun afternoon.

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Bob Lyons

Retired airline pilot and European explorer

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