Situated in a northeast corner of Paris, the 19th arrondissement, or district, traditionally has not been of much interest to tourists. But the area has experienced a dramatic urban renewal and now has much to offer visitors, notably a sweeping 19th-century park, a state-of-the-art music venue, and a major science and industry complex.
La Cité des Sciences et de L'Industrie
Located in the Parc de la Villette, the Museum of Science and Industry offers fascinating and educational exhibits, both temporary and permanent, that teach as well as entertain. In one exhibition area, scientific journalists explain the latest developments and news in science and technology. In another exhibit, the capabilities of the human brain are explored through the microscopic world to understand how information flows through the brain. Visitors can test themselves with games based on actual laboratory experiments. There's also a planetarium worth checking out.
Don't miss the opportunity to see a film or a concert at La Géode, one of the most interesting buildings in Paris. Resembling a giant mirror ball, this sphere is covered with more than six thousand stainless steel triangles that reflect images of the surrounding environment. Inside the theater, the giant hemisphere-shaped movie screen is made up of many perforated aluminum panels and measures more than 80 feet in diameter.
The auditorium has 400 tiered seats and is tilted 27 degrees horizontally, with the screen tilted at 30 degrees to create the impression that you are totally immersed in the film. Digital stereophonic sound is produced by 12 standard speakers and six sub-bass speakers positioned behind the screen directly above the audience.
The Paris Philharmonic and Cité de la Musique
The Cité de la Musique in the 19th arrondissement's Parc de la Villette contains concert halls, a media library, and the Museum of Music, which houses one of the largest collections of musical instruments in the world. The adjoining Philharmonie de Paris is a state-of-the-art facility that presents French and international performances of classical, contemporary, world music, and dance. This unique, spiral building is covered by an aluminum bird mosaic shell. Even if you don't see a performance here, visit the rooftop terrace, which is open to the public, for great views of Paris.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Sitting in both the 19th and 20th arrondissements, Buttes-Chaumont Park was a former limestone quarry that was transformed into a sprawling, Romantic-period park in the 19th century. Its location on a hilltop in the Belleville neighborhood provides excellent views of Montmartre and the surrounding area. The park's vast expanse of greenery and even a man-made lake afford visitors a quiet respite from sightseeing. There are also caves, waterfalls, and a suspension bridge. Near the bridge, you'll find the Pavillon du Lac, a fine-dining restaurant in a restored 19th-century building. The Rosa Bonheur at the top of the park is an informal tavern where you can enjoy a glass of wine and a nice view.