Day Six

Cite des Sciences

My first visit today was going to be the Cité des Sciences in the north east of the city. The closest Metro stop is Porte de la Villette, which is close to the Metro zone boundary. Basically this meant that my Metro ticket wasn't valid past this stop. After exiting at what appeared to be a very deserted Metro station I walked the short distance to the museum. Once again my museum card covered entry, however you need to go to the ticket counter, show the pass and obtain an museum entrance ticket that you swipe to enter different exhibits.

Armed with my ticket I decided to explore the museum from the top down and took the escalator to the upper level.


Inside the museum there are some excellent exhibits and displays. During my visit I wandered through exhibits including : stars and galaxies, rocks and volcanoes, medicine, life and health, biology, computers, images, energy and more. Most exhibits and information about the exhibits are in French however translation services are readily available. Many of the exhibits have many excellent hands on demonstrations that make it interesting for all ages. There is also a planetarium located on level 2 with regular daily shows.

Cité de Sciences is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm ( 6.30pm on Sundays ). The entry ticket to the exhibitions is valid for permanent and temporary exhibits ( Explora ) and, provided seats are still available, the planetarium, 3-D films at the Louis-Lumiere cinema and the Argonaute submarine. The ticket is valid throughout the day of purchase and gives four entries to the Explora. The cost is 50 F and children under seven are free. The cost of the Géode is 57 F, while exclusive tickets to the Argonaute are 25 F.

The attractions of the museum are not merely limited to what is inside. Outside you will find the Argonaute submarine, La Géode and Parc de la Villette. The Argonautesubmarine is a 1950's attack submarine with a navigation and submersible museums nearby. La Géode is a giant cinema that plays IMAX films. The giant sphere, covered in stainless steel tiles tiles is 36 metres in diametre.


This being my last full day in Paris and still having so much that I wanted to see I reluctantly bid Cité des Sciences farewell and headed back to the heart of the city.

Opera de Paris

I exited the Metro in the Opera quarter of the city. The main feature of this area is the Opéra de Paris Garnier. Construction was commenced in 1862 and was opened in 1875. Underneath the building is a small lake that provided the inspiration for the phantom's hiding place in Paul Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. I couldn't find any way to actually get inside the building but that may be because of refurbishments at the time. Features to note on the inside include the Grand Staircase, Grand Foyer, five tiered auditorium and more.


Following the suggested walking tour of the area from my Eyewitness travel guide I walked all around the exterior of the Opera and then headed in the direction of La Madeleine.


La Madeleine

La Madeleine is a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene and is located very close to Place de Concorde. The church has some spectacular sculpture as well as a crypt. It is easy to get a little blasé about all the churches that one can see in Paris, however I believe that if you spend some time in each you will begin to appreciate them as individual works of architectural art. Each has its own story to tell about the creator and period in which it was built.


By this stage it was now late in the afternoon and and having left a few major sites to see in and around my hotel I decided that now would be a good opportunity to see them. I therefore headed south to the Montparnasse part of Paris, my destination was the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Cimetière du Montparnasse

Originally built outside the city, it was designed to alleviate space problems that existed at the time. It was opened in 1824 and became the resting place of many well know identities.  Here you will find such names as Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi ( sculptor of the Statue of Liberty ), André Citröen ( who founded the famous car company that still bears his name ) and more.


About twenty minutes or so after I had entered I heard a bell start to ring. I assumed, correctly, that cemetery was closing. I therefore started to make my way back to the exit. As I walked down the road to the exit I was approached by a man in a golf cart, who stopped and said something to me in French which I assumed would have been something like "The cemetery is closing for the night, please make your way to the exit". Not understanding what he said I asked if he understood English. He shook his head, this was the first person in Paris that I had come across that didn't speak even a little English. The only thing that popped into my head was "Fermi" which I believe means exit or end. He just looked at me for a second, tried to digest what I had said, laughed, nodded and continued on his way. So I must have somehow conveyed that I was making my way to the exit.


Not being too late yet, I jumped back on the Metro and headed to my home stop, however I didn't not return directly to my hotel. Instead, I headed into the Luxembourg Quarter. My first stop was St Sulpice. I had a quick look inside but didn't really see anything outstanding ( I suppose I was beginning to get a little churched out ) and headed the Jardin du Luxembourg.


Jardin du Luxembourg

It was interesting to find so many people in the park, even at this time of the afternoon. In the centre of the garden is a large lake. The area also contains the Palais du Luxembourg, once a royal palace and now home to the French Senate.

 

I walked through the formal gardens and paths, thinking what a wonderful place this must be in summer and spring. I continue on through the park and then through the back streets near my hotel and I came to my usual restaurant for dinner. By now, I was almost becoming a regular and my waiter did not speak to me any more in English, just French - which I took as a compliment on my attempts to speak French. I sat at a window looking out on the street, enjoying my meal feeling a little sad that my time in Paris was almost over. Tomorrow was to be my last day in Paris as I was leaving at three in the afternoon on the Eurostar for London.


After my leisurely meal, I strolled back to my hotel to watch TV in French one last time.

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