Things to do in Paris |
Cité des Sciences and de l'Industrie |
The Métropolitain |
Musée de l'Erotisme and Pigalle |
The Palace of Versailles | Père-Lachaise Cemetery | Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre | Saint-Ouen Flea Market
The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie is in the Parc de la Villette in Paris. This is now an art, music and science complex, but was originally where all the meat in Paris came from. A huge abbatoir was planned, but before it was finshed it had become redundant, and was redesigned by the architect Adrien Fainsilber to become the musuem it is now.
How to get there
The nearest métro stop to the Cité is Porte de la Villette, where there is just a short walk up a flight of steps into the museum.
How to get in
The Cité is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 10am to 7pm on Sunday. A day pass also allows admittance to The Explora centre (the main part of the museum) the Planetarium, the Louis-Lumière 3D cinema and the Argonaute Submarine.
Entrance to other attractions in the Cité costs extra; they include the Cité des Enfants, Techno Cité, the Geode and the Cinaxe.
Remember that films and shows have specfic times, so ask for le programme so that you can plan your time. The Explora tickets allow you to enter up to four times.
What you will find
The Explora Centre
This is two levels of around 20 exhibitions covering the usual science subjects, such as the universe, water and the earth, man and health, industry and communication. It includes interactive experiments on light games, how we learn, computers and images and sounds and mathematics.
It is also a centre for discussion and debate. A recent temporary exhibit about work was staged with the specific intent of encouraging those that had seen the exhibition to come back and attend a series of debates and lectures about the nature of work and how it affects our daily lives.
Located on level two of the Explora Centre, you need to hire an Audio Guide, but it does not translate the first two shows of the day. To be sure of a seat, you can book when you buy you tickets.
Louis-Lumière 3D cinema
This shows short stereoscopic (3D) films every half an hour. You'll have to queue, and you'll need to wear special glasses.
Prepare for a squeeze if you want to go round this landlocked 1957 French military submarine, now decommissioned and open to the public. Unsuitable for under-threes.
Cité des Enfants and Techno Cité
This is split into three sessions: children aged three to five, five to twelve, and 'Electricity' for ages five to twelve. Entrance is only possible with a child. The youngest children can build houses, discover how corn grows and play with water power, all linked by a stream. The older sessions include racing skeletons, robots, and various aspects of science and technology. 'Electricity' lets children find out what is behind the switch when they use it. Techno Cité is for eleven and up, and lets teenagers experience the influence and use of technology in daily life.
Made of almost perfectly reflective steel, this cinema sits above a pool of water which it reflects, together with the main building, as you approach it. The thousand m2 hemispherical screen is ten times the size of a normal cinema screen, although like all Omnimax 180° presentations, the plot is not all it could be, and this shortcoming is especially noticeable when it is in a foreign language. No children under three or women over 26 weeks pregnant are allowed in.
This cinema actually moves with the action. The 70mm film is shot at 30 frames a second, so any films not only look real, but feel it too. No under-fours, pregnant women or people suffering from epilepsy or a heart condition are admitted.
You will need all day to see round this massive museum, and it's well worth taking the time to see it all. It is also worth taking the time to admire the building itself, as it is a magnificent structure. Information guides are available in a number of languages, but most exhibits are labelled only in French. Unlike the Science Museum in London, you can walk in and look around before buying your tickets. You can visit the aquarium, médiathèques, and view various documentaries (in French) in the Salle Jean-Bertin and the Salle Jean-Painlevé, and use the café and toilets for free.