Parc de la Villette Paris

I’ve already mentioned the Parc de la Villette (Metro: Porte de Pantin, Line 5) briefly in the sections on the Canal Saint-Martin (n° 8) and Movies (n° 30). Just to remind you: located in the northeastern corner of Paris, in a semi-industrial, working class district bordering on the suburbs, it is a bit off the beaten track for tourists. I’d like to say a few more words about it, as I think the Parc de la Villette would be a great place for you to visit. Why??

First, I’m always curious to learn about the background of places that I visit, and here I can tell you that the Parc is on the site of an important slaughterhouse and that the two canals that run through it -the Ourcq canal and the St Denis canal – were used to supply water to Paris and to transport cargo and freight. One of the large slaughterhouse buildings remains on the site today.

Secondly, this is not a park in the traditional 19th century sense of city parks with formal gardens, grassy areas and trees. Rather, it is a very “young” park, designed in 1982 by the French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi.

The idea was to create a new model for a 21st century city park, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together in a kind of contemporary melting pot in order to experience diverse cultural and artistic experiences. Thus, the Parc has the largest science museum in Europe (la Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie), a cinema and concert hall (La Grande Halle), a City of Music (La Cite de la Musique) and a big concert hall, the Paris Zenith. There are continual hip-hop performances and street theatre. All of the attractions, including the themed gardens, are linked together by an ever-changing series of paths and alley-ways.

This is a very popular place for Parisians; over the years I have been to rock concerts, avant-garde operas, crafts exhibitions and ice-skating spectacles. You could start off along the Canal Saint-Martin, wend your way up to La Villette, take in a concert or an open-air movie and have an overall fresh and delightful experience, discovering another facet of Paris life.

And lastly, starting in May 2012, a high-speed internet connection has been available inside the entire 55 hectares which comprise the Parc, making it the largest open internet space in France.

The Parc is open day and night, closed only from 1:00-6:00

Parc de la Villette Paris Photo Gallery

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