The Biggest Science Museum in Europe
|Turbulence Clock at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie demonstrates Chaos Theory|
By the time we hit our 8th day in Paris, the kids were ready for something bordering on the normal instead of the iconic. While they had surpassed my expectations with their enjoyment of the Louvre, science and technology is more their style. That's why I planned an outing to Parc de la Villette's Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie which was on Frommer's list of 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up. A handy map and guide by the ticket booth was very helpful in figuring out the age appropriateness for each section. It was spot on with suggesting that kids as young as 6 years would enjoy the Sounds section while the concepts in Mathématiques were better suited for those age 10 years and older. Most explanations were in French, English, and Spanish. All in all, I'd say it's a good outing for school age kids all the way up to adults, especially if the weather outside is cold or rainy.
Fun Children's Museum
|Cité des Enfants -- Finally, a museum for kids|
Archimedes screw, balancing balls on water jets, leaf cutter ants, and measuring running speed
Cité des Enfants, a children's museum, is located within the same building as Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie but requires a separate admission fee. After a whole week of muttered warnings not to touch that Monet/Matisse/Da Vinci, I could finally relax and let my kids run free to poke and prod whatever they liked. Water exploration, the garden, and the factory were the highlights for my kids.
Note that you have to buy tickets for a specific 90-minute session and definitely have to clear out when your session is over. Tip: Reserve your session on-line ahead of time if you are going during a busy period. While we wished we could stay longer, I really appreciated that this method keeps the exhibits from becoming overcrowded.
The area for 5-12 year olds focuses on science and technology while the area for 2-7 year olds features entertaining early learning activities. You cannot switch between these two sections during a session.
|La Géode IMAX theatre|
An IMAX theatre is housed inside La Géode adjacent to the museums. This is the Mirror Ball building I told you about in my last post.
|Taking a spin at Parc de la Villette|
|Pedaling a horse and carriage|
Themed Gardens where Kids can Romp
|Burning off energy at the Garden of Dunes and Wind|
Ten themed gardens create interesting playgrounds for the kids and places for families to explore. We decided to skip the Garden of Childhood Fears and headed directly to the Garden of Dunes and Wind which had caught our eye earlier when we strolled through the park.
Some kids sped down the zipline while others ran in the hexagonal framed hamster wheels. Games of tag ensued up and down the hilly dunes that hid the tunnels below. Each windmill was connected to pedals so that kids could work to make them spin. Children jumped along rows of air cushions like a giant, outdoor bounce house.
A different section was set aside for toddlers and young children so that they wouldn't be mowed over by boisterous older kids. This garden also had the most comfortable semi-reclined chairs for parents that I've ever experienced in a playground. Best of all, the entire garden is fenced in so that you don't have to worry about youngsters wandering off.
... And so much more!
|Watching the horses exercise before their performance at La Grande Halle, |
a former abattoir (slaughterhouse) turned performance venue.
Okay, I didn't actually get around to doing everything in Parc de la Villette because it's so huge. Other things to do include:
- Taking a 2.5 hour cruise through the locks and under bridges of St. Martin canal on either Canauxrama or Paris Canal to/from central Paris
- Explore Cité de la Musique which houses a museum, concert hall, studios, conservatory and what appeared to be a happening restaurant
- Crawl around on the Argonaute, a 1950s era submarine
- Watch an open-air movie at the Prairie du Triangle on a summer night, although I'm not sure if English subtitles are offered
- Attend a concert or performance at La Grande Halle, the Conservatoire, or Zenith Concert Hall
- Dine at one of the food stands throughout the park. There's something for everyone -- cotton candy, churros, ice cream, wine, sandwiches, more wine...
IF YOU GO:
As I said, this park is enormous. Fortunately, they have a really great online map of where everything is located along with directions for numerous ways to get to the park (metro, bus, streetcar, bicycle, car, boat canal, etc.). Click here for handy website.
The Géode as Big as the Ritz
This post is part of "Travel Photo Thursday" on Budget Travelers Sandbox, "Photo Friday" on Delicious Baby, "Oh the Places I've Been" on The Tablescaper and "Friday Daydreamin" at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.