Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (literally “City of Science and Industry,” and frequently abbreviated CSL) is located within the lovely Parc de la Villette at the northern edge of Paris, a short walk from Cité de la Musique and about five miles southeast of the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This engaging museum of science and industry is full of interactive exhibits on thought-provoking subjects as diverse as the universe, mathematics, optical illusions, and genetics, just to name a few. It also recently opened a new Planetarium.

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History of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie occupies a prime spot within the grounds of Parc de la Villette, which today is considered the third-largest park in all of Paris. In long the history of this remarkable city, the Parc de la Villette is a relatively new park, as it was only built between the years 1984 and 1987. The renowned architect Bernard Tschumi designed the Parc de la Villette, which was constructed on the remains of the city’s old slaughterhouse and meat-market district.

In addition to the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Parc de la Villette is home to Cité de la Musique, which encompasses a museum of musical instruments and concert hall designed by Jean Nouvel (the architect responsible for the Quai Branly Museum; La Géode, an IMAX theater; and the Grande Halle de la Villette, a historic slaughterhouse that has been transformed into an exhibition space and music venue.

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie Highlights

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is headlined by over a half-dozen distinctive permanent exhibits that take visitors deep into the wonderful world of science. BR4IN allows you to learn all about how the human brain works through experiments, games, and tests. The Great Story of the Universe is a two-level exhibition that explores how the universe was created, with a special emphasis on the physical laws of nature and how our world has evolved over millions of years.

Man and Genes is arguably the CSL’s most ambitious exhibit: divided into four parts, this powerful presentation tells the story of evolution, describes how genes shape human development, explores the possibilities of genetic engineering, and concludes with a number of bioethical considerations. This serious subject matter of Man and Genes is lightened with a stop at the Pinhole exhibit, a popular space where visitors can dive into the complexity of optical perspectives and illusions.

Other fabulous permanent exhibits on display at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie include Mathematics, where geometry, statistics, and probability are made fun; Sounds, which combines interactive musical features with informative displays on the human voice and ear; The Reverse Sundial, a fascinating astronomical device on the exterior of the museum’s southern forecourt; and The Argonaute, an exhibit located right inside a historic, 1950s-era submarine.

More to See and Do at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is a popular destination for many families visiting Paris. Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you plan your visit.

•In addition to its impressive array of permanent exhibits, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions covering a wide-range of scientific topics. Recent temporary exhibitions showing at CSL have explored concepts like metamorphosis, cancer, and crowds, just to name a few.

•The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie Planetarium is an acclaimed immersive experience that lets guests feel as though they’re floating in space. The Planetarium typically runs 30-minute educational shows and a variety of lectures by prominent astronomers.

•In order to maximize what you get out of your visit to Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, you’ll to take time to access the attraction’s audio guide—which is available completely free of charge. All you need to do to acquire this tremendous complimentary resource is scan a QR code while on the premises; you’ll find these QR codes located throughout the building. The audio guide is available in French, English, Spanish, and Italian.

•There are a couple of dining options for visitors to Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. On the ground level, you’ll find a small café with a selection of grab-and-go salads, sandwiches, snacks, and desserts. On the second floor, there’s an American-style fast-food restaurant selling burgers, fries, and more.

•Be certain to budget in time during your Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie visit to stroll through the surrounding Parc de la Villette. This nearly 90-acre park is a lovely green space containing numerous other cultural attractions, performance venues, theatres, museums, and more.

Why the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie Should Be on Your Must-See List

Paris is full of unforgettable art museums, impressive historic monuments, and some of the world’s most memorable architecture. Sometimes, though, even in the midst of a lovely vacation or unforgettable adventure it can be a blast to get your hands dirty playing and learning at a top-notch museum of science and industry. As inspiring as the glitz and glamor of Paris can be, if you and your kids are ready for a lively change of pace, then make sure the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is prominent on your list of to-do attractions. It’s an entertaining place to spend an educational afternoon.