The City of Science and Industry, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, is a large museum dedicated to technical and scientific culture in the Parc de la Villette in Paris. There are plenty of exciting things to explore. You can step inside a real submarine, check out various temporary exhibitions on science-related themes, and have fun with science and crafts activities in the Kids’ City.
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City of Science and Industry in Paris: must-see activities
The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is an essential destination in the Parc de la Villette, quite far from the most common tourist attractions. If you’re travelling with children, I recommend spending an entire day here. The museum offers a fun and innovative way to discover the sciences and techniques of the modern world.
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Famous attractions include the Kid’s City, the Planetarium, the Argonaute submarine, and the Géode. Unfortunately, le Géode, an IMAX cinema showing 3D films, was closed during my visit. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie offers various activities and temporary exhibits. From robotics to medicine and the environment, you can discover how these topics impact on science, society, and your daily life.
Cité des Enfants: the Kids’ City
The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris has a section called Cité des Enfants, Kids’ City. It provides an interactive and educational experience for children between 2 and 12 years old, divided into two age groups. This part of the museum introduces young children to science and technology in a fun and engaging way.
Like the Espai dels Xiquets children’s space at the Science Museum in Valencia, the Cité des Enfants in Paris also allows children to experiment with various topics and learn to work together to achieve a common goal. Compared to other Children’s Cities in Europe, the one in Paris is much larger and offers a more diverse range of activities.
My son was thrilled to realize his dream of becoming a worker with a helmet and reflective waistcoat. In this section, the children work together to construct a building, moving bricks with a winch and trolleys along the rails. He enjoyed it so much that he is still asking me to return.
Aside from the building section, there are other sections like water games and a maze. There are so many activities that choosing which ones to try can be challenging. Trying all the activities in the two hours available with the admission ticket is impossible. Every game teaches the children the rules of physics and scientific principles, like the compressed air tubes that push balls along a path.
To enter the Kids’ City, young visitors must book in advance via the official Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie website or at the on-site counters. Remember that activity times are fixed, you can only enter the time slot you have booked.
The submarine Argonaute
The submarine Argonaute is one of the most exciting attractions at the Parc de la Villette. It is especially popular among all history and technology enthusiasts. After serving in the French Navy from 1958 to 1982, the submarine became an interactive museum about the life onboard. Inside, you can learn about navigation, torpedo operations, and delve into the history of the Cold War.
For those who have never seen a submarine, entering the Argonaute is a unique and exciting experience. You’ll walk inside with the audio guide downloadable to your mobile phone. With children, it can be challenging to listen to the audio guide during the visit. However, observing the confined spaces is enough to imagine the conditions of life on board a submarine. Inside, it is not allowed to take photographs,
At the end of the tour inside the submarine Argonaute, there is an exhibition about the operations and history of submersibles and submarines. In this area, you can discover many details about the functioning of military submarines.
Although the Argonaute is located on land and not in the water, it requires the same precautions for visiting any submarine, considering the cramped spaces you must pass through during the visit. That is, to be in good health and have no mobility problems. The ticket to visit the submarine is free for Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie Paris ticket holders. Still, you must book your visit at the information desk at the entrance.
The Planetarium: take a look at the universe and constellations
At the Planetarium, you can watch exciting films about the Earth, the universe and the constellations. As it is a very popular activity, book in advance via the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie’s official website to secure your place. Or directly at the entrance counters, where you can book entry to the Argonaute submarine and the Cité des Enfants.
City of Science and Industry: what’s on
At the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, permanent exhibitions cover various topics, including robotics, science and technology. During our visit, we were especially fascinated by the advances in robotics. We discovered mechanical arms and how Roomba hoovers are programmed.
In the robotics section, you can explore how robots adapt to their environment, understand the challenges of contemporary robotics and interact with real robots. This exhibition also stimulates reflections on the presence of robots in our daily lives. Discovering hoover robots was amazing because we have one at home!
Another exhibition we visited was dedicated to the brain. It offered an insight into current scientific knowledge about this organ responsible for our actions, thoughts, perceptions, abilities and feelings. The exhibition had a set-up inspired by the surrealist movement. It combined unusual elements and fantasy to reveal how the brain works. You could also test your abilities through various games, tests and experiences.
In particular, the brain’s section of the exhibition explained the extraordinary abilities in learning, observation, decision-making and awareness formation. These abilities are made possible by memory and brain plasticity, which enables the brain to adapt to different situations.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the City of Science and Industry in Paris, hosts fantastic temporary exhibitions for science and technology enthusiasts. Every year, the Cité de le Sciences presents new temporary exhibitions covering various topics, including astronomy, biology and physics.
For example, we saw Cancers, which illustrates scientific knowledge, the way people perceive cancer and its psychological and social consequences. Through the exhibition, you could learn more about various aspects of cancer. Including advances in research, available treatments, and, most importantly, the disease’s social and emotional impact on those affected and their families.
Practical information for visiting the City of Science and Industry in Paris
Given the museum’s size, I suggest you spend the whole day at the Cité de le Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris. For eating, there are two restaurants inside the building. While outside, in front of the entrance, there is a fast food restaurant. Still, you can bring your lunch and enjoy it in the open-air spaces.
Opening hours and ticket prices
To visit the City of Science and Industry in Paris, I recommend booking your tickets online to avoid long queues. The museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and from 9:30 am to 7 pm on Sundays, except Mondays. Outside these hours, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is closed on the national holidays of 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
You should book Planetarium, Argonaute submarine and Cité des Enfants tickets in advance via the official Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie website or directly at the information points on site. Remember that entry times are fixed, you can only enter the time slot you have booked.
The ticket cost depends on the visitors’ age and the type of entrance chosen. Two kinds of entrance tickets are available: the Billet Expositions ticket and the Billet Cité des Enfants children’s area ticket, both costing €13. Reduced rates and museum passes are also available.
How to get to the City of Science and Industry in Paris
Although the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is quite far from the centre of Paris and the most famous attractions, it is still easy to reach by public transport. You can take line 7 and get off at the Porte de la Villette or Corentin Cariou stations if you travel by metro.
Alternatively, you can opt for bus or tram transport. As several lines run around the Parc de la Villette, check the best route to your starting point with Google Maps, which works well in Paris. Finally, if you stay outside the French capital, or the journey is too long by public transport, you can rent a car in Paris.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry)
30 avenue Corentin Cariou
75019 Paris, France
Where to stay in Paris
Sleeping in Paris can be expensive, prompting you to consider staying outside the city centre. In such a case, before selecting a hotel, I suggest you read my article on the best and worst neighbourhoods to stay in Paris.
I’ve visited Paris on several occasions for leisure and work, and I recommend a few places I’m familiar with. If you’re looking for a unique stay, Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, built inside a 17th-century convent and located in the Marais district, is an excellent choice.
To save money, opt for the more affordable Hotel Bloum, situated close to the Opera and decorated with customised furnishings. Alternatively, the Aparthotel Adagio Paris Montmartre offers contemporary, self-catering apartments, perfect for families looking for more space in their rooms.
In conclusion, a visit to the City of Science and Industry is definitely an experience to do in Paris. With its interactive exhibitions, Planetarium and Children’s City, the museum offers a unique opportunity for learning and fun for all ages. Feel free to comment if you are already familiar with this fascinating science museum or if this article has intrigued you enough to add it as an attraction on your next trip to Paris.