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Back in 2010, Untapped Paris posted about the landscaping and architecture of the Parc de la Villette, as well as the fantastic music venues sited within. With this post, we give our tips for making the most of Summer sun and news of upcoming events in the area.

Pick a sunny afternoon to descend from Stalingrad or Jaurés metro stations to the terrace bar of La Rotonde  de la Villette, which spreads itself across the Place Stalingrad. The Neoclassical building of La Rotonde was completed in 1788, the year before the French Revolution as the Barrière de la Villette. Tolls and taxes were paid by passing merchant canal boats to the Barrière, en route to the Seine. Works to modernise and remodel the building were completed in 2011, incorporating a brasserie, bar and club. Recently acquired umbrellas and seating provide the perfect outdoor setting for your first apéro, whatever time of day you are starting out.

image source: www.wikipedia.com

Alternatively, head to the slightly more relaxed local favourite 25 ° Est, with elevated and ground-level terraces that overlook Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad and fountain —  perhaps the best spot for watching the young and hip locals of the area.

A set of boules and a bottle of pastis are perfect accessories for an hour or two of pétanque, immediately north of Place Stalingrad — depending on where the sun has decided to settle, pick your side of the Bassin and settle in for a friendly match.

Follow the locals and dine by  pique-nique immediately beside the  bassin, or whilst your boules match is in play. Some locals even elect to bring the whole dining room, including table and chairs beside the canal to dine entre amis. If the co-ordination of a BYO picnic is not on the cards, then there are plenty of brasserie and restaurant options either side of the Bassin — including La Rotonde or the more relaxed Le Jaures, just follow your nose!

Moored along both sides of the Bassin de la Villette are for the Summer are a range of peniches  —    an array of canal boats housing bars, restaurants and theatres, providing a selection of great open air spots for admiring a Summer sun set with an apéro or digestif in hand. Trendy local bar Bar Ourq  can be found around this area too, along the Quai de la Loire.

Heading further North along the Quai de la Marne or Quai de l’Oise and traversing the bridges leading to the Parc de la Villette,  one of the largest parks in Paris and situated within the city’s Périphérique ring road. A new tram line and traversing the canal adjacent to the Périphérique to the North of the park is set to open soon, and will connect the nearby  North Eastern suburbs of Paris with  the existing Métro network.

To the West, and more easily accessed from Métro Porte de la Villette is the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a post-modern    building with externally expressed structure, a huge central internal volume – much of which is dedicated to a monumental central atrium and grand concourses for circulation. The stainless steel Géode provides a grand architectural ‘cherry on top’ for the complex, and houses a 3D max theatre.

Recurring events such as the Paris Plages and the  Cinéma en Plein Air  programme  are due to kick off this month. The man-made beaches of the  Paris Plages  event will bring both excitement and relaxation to the area — opening to the public July 20th. The large inflatable outdoor screen of the outdoor cinema situated on the grassed field adjacent to the former abbatoir, the Grand halle de la Villette, commencing July 19th, with  scheduled films  running through until 26th  August. This year ticketing fees will apply to the screenings, so consult the programme and event details before you head out.  On these evenings a chilled bottle of  rosé can be found next to a baguette  tradition on just about every picnic blanket.

For a full list of this Summer’s events, check out the full website:  www.villette.com.

Currently, an open air exhibition of the photography of Chinese artist Ai Wei is on display. The scale and engaging content of Wei’s photographs mesmerise and amuse all whom pass along the canal at Villette  —  walkers, runners and canal boat trippers alike.

Though there are myriad activities to choose from every day this Summer at the park and its various venues, a scenic and leisurely promenade is reason enough to take a stroll up to the Parc de la Villette, particularly at the blue hour. The illumination of the various bridges and walkways beside the bassin and park is sets the scene for a romantic stroll, and the red neon of the elevated walkways  continues Tschumi’s red theme of the cité du sang  at night. Although the walkways leading through the park are well lit, it’s a good idea to take a friend or two and keep your wits about you if venturing into the park after dark.

Whatever the day, whatever your mood, do the Paris Summer like a local and head up to Villette as and when the sun decides to shine!

Getting there:

From Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad [Map]

Métro: Jaurès or Stalingrad

There are also a number of Vélib stations in the area – check out  http://www.velib.paris.fr/Plan-stations

Get in touch with the author  @twarbrick.

1 Comment

  1. tara warbrick says:

    Erratum: the films are free!! All the more reason to get to the Cinéma en Plein Air!!

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