The city of science and industry is a cultural center located in the Parc de la Villette, northeast of Paris. Specializing in the dissemination of scientific and technical culture, the city of science and industry aims to raise awareness among adults and children about the challenges of society related to science, research and industry. Created on the initiative of the President of the Republic Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the city of science and industry opened its doors in Paris in 1986 and it welcomes more than a million visitors each year. In this article, we will retrace the origins of the city of sciences of La Villette, while focusing on its spaces, its museums with permanent exhibitions and its cultural mission.
The birth of the city of science and industry of La Villette
The city of science and industry is located on the Parc de la Villette, near the Paris ring road. In the early 1980s, a project to rehabilitate the slaughterhouses at Porte de la Villette was entrusted to the French architect Adrien Fainsilber. The idea is to set up a cultural space in Paris dedicated to science and technology and, at the same time, make the city of science and industry a CCSTI (Center for Scientific, Technical and Industrial Culture). The project validated, the center is built on the unfinished concrete structure of the large sales room of the slaughterhouses of La Villette, whose commercial activity stopped in 1973. Indeed, during the 1970s, many events were organized in the old sheep halls, in order to demonstrate the potential of the La Villette site. Legendary concerts like those of David Bowie or the Rolling Stones were organized there in 1974. In 1975, Jean Serignan, director of SEMVI, proposed to develop the La Villette sector into an urban park and in 1979, a decree approved the project to create a museum and a park on the La Villette site. . The city of science and industry was inaugurated on March 13, 1986 by the President of the Republic François Mitterrand, on the occasion of the meeting of comet Halley and the astronomical probe Giotto.
The permanent exhibitions of the city of sciences
The city of science and industry offers several permanent exhibitions. Located on levels 1 and 2, this space dedicated to the permanent “Explora” exhibitions is centered around the following themes:
- Bio-inspired : this permanent exhibition accessible to children from 9 years old, sheds light on biodiversity, the development of species in their ecosystem, endangered species, their adaptability and also the survival of humanity. This permanent exhibition is located on level 1 of the city of science and industry.
- Robots : this permanent exhibition located on level 1 teaches us about the creation, operation and usefulness of robots in our daily lives. From 11 years old.
- E-Lab : E-Lab is a space exclusively dedicated to video games, including pilot simulator games. This exhibition allows not only to play, but also to learn about technologies, trades and the impact of the game on our society. Starting from 7 years old.
- Brain : Brain is a permanent neuroludic exhibition. It allows you to discover how the brain works, while testing its abilities through games and playful experiences. From 12 years old.
- Transport and people : this permanent exhibition makes us aware of our modes of travel, innovation, ecological impact and eco-behaviour. Located on level 1 of the city of sciences, “des transports et des hommes” is accessible to children from 11 years old.
- Energies : there will soon be nearly 9 billion of us on Earth: this is why the permanent Energies exhibition makes us aware of the growing demand for energy and its environmental consequences.
- The great story of the universe : this exhibition explains the origins of the universe and matter, while telling us the story of the Earth.
- Objective Earth: the satellite revolution : this exhibition accessible from 11 years old, allows you to discover the Earth from space in an original way.
- Mathematics : this exhibition aims to make mathematics more attractive, through tangible and manipulable objects.
- Sounds : this exhibition makes us aware of our quality of listening and our perception of the sounds that surround us, through technological and musical tools.
- Argonaute : this exhibition offers a real immersion on board a submarine and allows us to discover the daily life of a crew of 40 men.
- Under the ocean : this permanent exhibition allows us to explore the depths of the oceans and the seabed, but seen from scientific and technological angles.
- Solar Impulse 1: this exhibition introduces us to the mythical solar plane in its first version, capable of flying, without fuel, only powered by solar energy.
- Aquarium : this exhibition made up of 3 basins immerses us in a community of aquatic plants and animals from the Mediterranean Sea.
- Works of art in the city : this exhibition brings together a collection of works from the arts of science and technology. There are machines, paintings, statutes as well as old books.
Temporary exhibitions at the Villette
The city of science and industry also hosts temporary exhibitions focusing on different themes. During 2022, the following temporary exhibitions are accessible to the public:
- Banquet : this temporary exhibition revolves around gastronomy through an immersive journey concocted by chef Thierry Marx.
- Fragile : this temporary exhibition takes us into the small world of Windy the ball, Folia the sheet of paper, Glitch the soap and Plote the ball of wool. Ideal for raising children’s awareness of the notions of fragility.
- The lab of the city of babies : this space welcomes toddlers from birth to 23 months, in a magical and playful setting.
The children’s city of La Villette
The city of children consists of 2 distinct spaces located inside the city of science and industry. These spaces revolve around different themes and are centered on the development of the child and his bodily, cognitive and spatial faculties.
- The city of children for 2-7 year olds : focused on awakening, this space revolves around the following 5 themes: I discover myself, I know how to do, I identify myself, I experiment, all together. Through workshops and fun activities, children learn to develop their faculties.
- The city of children for 5-12 year olds : this exhibition specially designed for children in primary school, revolves around the discovery of 6 spaces grouping together as themes: the body, communication, the TV studio, the garden, the games of water and factory. In these spaces, children can run here to measure their speed or even play TV presenter!
The library of the city of science and industry
The city of science and industry also has a scientific library which extends over 3 floors and is structured around 3 sectors:
- The general public,
- The history of science.
Equipped with interactive terminals, the library of the city of sciences of La Villette allows the viewing of films, documentaries and cartoons. The ground floor of the library is a space dedicated to children with a media library and a cinema. The media library also integrates other spaces, such as the digital crossroads, the city of trades and the city of health.
The planetarium of the city of science and industry
The planetarium is a cinema that offers an 8K high definition laser projection system. Its definition is 8 times higher than that of the television screens which equip the hearths, which offers a total immersion during the projection of films on space. Several films and shows are offered at different times of the day, including:
- Ready for takeoff : this show takes viewers aboard a spaceship for a journey through the solar system.
- Pecho under the stars : this show allows you to view the stars on a beautiful summer night in the mountains.
- Black holes : this show makes us discover the life of stars and the influence of black holes on their environment.
- 16 sunrises: Thomas Pesquet’s space mission : this film introduces us to the first mission of astronaut number 1 in France aboard the ISS.
The city of science and industry also hosts another cinema: the Louis Lumière cinema, located on level 0.
The geode of the city of sciences of La Villette
Located in the Parc de la Villette, the Geode is a cinema located behind the city of science and industry. The Geode measures 36 meters in diameter and is covered with 6433 spherical steel triangles which reflect light, like a mirror. Inside, this cinema has a 1000 m² screen where films in IMAX format are shown. La Géode has 400 seats and seats inclined at 27°. Note that Disneyland Paris also has a cinema where IMAX films are shown.
To get to the city of science and industry of La Villette by car, indicate Corentin Cariou street on your GPS and by Metro, take line 7, and get off at the “Corentin Cariou” station. The city of science and industry is also an establishment accessible to people with disabilities: the films are offered in LSF and tactile presentations are accessible to the visually impaired. To organize your visit, all the practical information concerning timetables, ticket reservations and prices can be consulted on the website www.cite-sciences.fr