FRANCE PARIS Cité des Sciences

The Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie [30 avenue Corentin-Cariou, +33 140057000 ad/ch € (11-20.50)/ (3-14) (depending on chosen exhibition package)] holds the title of being the largest science museum in Europe. With over 5 million visitors entering its doors annually, the museum displays almost everything that has to do with the physical world. The current plot of land in La Villette was initially just a cattle and sheep marketplace that was accompanied by hectares of wasteland. In 1979, the entire area was redeveloped and the Villette Park was established nearby (officially opened only in 1993), together with many surrounding buildings. The place where the museum stands, was intended to become an auction house for La Villette abattoirs; however, a French Physicist Maurice Lévy, proposed a better idea- to start a comprehensive science in its place. The state accepted this proposal and a project was commissioned, to build a science museum that reflected the main elements of the Villette Park (water, light and plants).  The Cité des Sciences structure reflects these elements in its design with water surrounding the museum, vegetation (via a greenhouse) being present in the building and light entering the place via two dome structures.

Inside, the museum comprises of a planetarium, a submarine, an IMAX theatre and an Internet Centre. It is recommended that you grab a map at the information counter at the entrance, as the museum layout can get confusing; especially in places like the Explora – an introductory area (in the first two levels) that displays summarised exhibitions of everything from genetics to space. Specialised exhibitions are held in the Planetarium- with talks about outer space and 3D-like theatre shows that give visitors a ‘ride’ in space and the Submarine- a 1950s retired French navy vessel that allows visitors to get a first hand experience of how it feels like to be a submarine crew. The museum also has a special section for kids in the Cité des Enfants, which caters to children between 2 and 12 years of age. It was designed to educate them on basic scientific principles regarding water; energy etc… via hands-on exhibits. As supervised workshops are held here, parents can leave their kids in this area for blocks of time, while they scour the rest of the place.