Automates Avenue in Falaise is a museum that celebrates the wonderful art work of automatons, robotic dummies, and their hay day between 1920 and 1950. During this period the people of Pairs would queue up in the streets to see the latest moving window displays. The museum is set out like 1920’s Paris with each large window display housing a different scene of automated craft. Each piece is easily described as a piece of art along the Automates Avenue but in addition to just being impressed with the artist’s skill they showcase the engineer side of the craftsman as well with information of how the mechanics work and how the displayed were put together.
One of our favourite scenes displayed a series of funny accidents at a stage in the tour-de-France race including one involving a cyclist and an unlucky pig.
But as well as humour the automaton creations were of a high enough quality to show other emotions, such as this lady who has a look of adventure as she readies for a night on the town.
The visit starts with a fascinating short film, about six minutes long, explaining the history of the automatons and once complete you then make your way into 1920’s Paris to see the wonderful displays.
Automates Avenue is fun for all the family but those of a sensitive disposition may get a bit scared and possibly have a bad dream or two after the visit. In fact, this is why we hadn’t visited the museum before as we were afraid it would be too scary for the little ones. It turned out Poppet was still a bit scared in places, and did have a bad dream, but Champ had no problems and in fact on several occasions I had to run after him as he charged ahead to see the next automated scene. I would recommend before you visit you consider the disposition of your kids and how they might react. If you think they will enjoy it then go ahead but otherwise maybe save it for another time.
As an example look at the picture above. Would this scare your child (it moved remember). It looks a bit like something from an episode of the walking dead but was actually a scene on a boat and this poor chap is sea sick.
The museum is mostly on one level and quite dark so it is a great place to take baby for a nap in their pushchair and also makes the museum accessible to wheel chair users.
Automates Avenue is Found in Falaise, a large town in Normandy about 25 minutes from the outskirts of Caen. It is best reached by car and the Automates Avenue Museum is found just behind the tourist information centre. The Tourist information centre is also the best place to park with a large circular car park that has the added bonus of being free.
Automates Avenue does not have any food options, but once done with your visit we would recommend a stroll around Falaise and grabbing a bite to eat at the Unicorn Creperie on the main square. They have a great collection of crepes and a couple of kid’s options on the menu. We know eating out with children in France can be a bit daunting due to the reputation of French children being super behaved but just take a look at this post to help you dispel the myth and enjoy eating out with children in France.
As already mentioned some of the displays can look a bit scary and Travelbetter Girl suffered with a nightmare the day we went. However, it was only for one night and she quickly calmed down after she woke up and didn't remember the bad dream the next day.
One aspect of the Automates Avenue that deserves a mention is the gift shop. It wasn't huge but it was filled with lovely vintage mechanical toys. A bit too delicate for our two but great for slightly older children or as an interesting piece for an office or shelf at home.
Overall Automates Avenue in Falaise is a well thought out and constructed museum that celebrates a forgotten art form and different time. True, the exhibits can look a bit scary but in some ways this added to the fun but we would suggest thinking twice if any of your party are of a sensitive disposition. If you go in, and we would recommend you do, you will be impressed by the detail and effort that has gone into each of the automatons. Additionally, the engineering skill to make them move is well displayed and something to be admired. Each piece truly deserves its place in a museum and we would recommend taking a look on your next visit to Normandy.
We’ve had many great family holidays in Normandy since becoming parents and keep going back as it has lots to offer kids and parents. Normandy has a good mix of historical sites, fun attractions, beaches, great food and a huge choice of self-catering accommodation to keep the family comfortable. We prefer to travel to Normandy via Ferry and sit back and let someone else do the work. Find out more about why we choose the ferry here. You can also get to France from the UK via the Channel Tunnel on Eurostar or fly to Paris if coming from further afield.
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