La Villette Guide : Visits, Walks, Restaurants, Cafés and Hotels

Would you like to visit Paris – but you’ve already seen all the most famous monuments you keep reading about in all the city guides? What you’re looking for is located up north – in the 9th arrondissement – the “La Villette” neighborhood.

Home of both the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and the Cité de la Musique, La Villette will take you on cultural trip.

From its lively park to its iconic bassin, here is a complete guide to your next trip destination.

canal villette paris
View of the canal, at La Villette. Credit: Guillhem Vellut, FlickrCC BY 2.0

 

La Villette’s park

Your visit of the neighborhood will mainly feature La Villette’s park, as you’ll find most of the interesting spots there.

From the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie to some temporary events, this is where the magic happens.

Be careful not to miss the park itself – there’s so much you could do!

jardin bambous villette park paris
Jardin des Bambous, one of the themed gardens at La Villette’s park. Credit: b.lastorina, panoramio, (found on WikimediaCC BY-SA 3.0

Indeed, there are tons of activities for you to try between two visits, or after enjoying a nice meal at the local bistro.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • have a walk around the park in one of the ten different themed gardens:
    • the Jardin du Dragon, which offers free recreational space for kids,
    • the Jardin des Voltiges, where you’ll find more physically intensive activities,
    • the Jardin des Ombres, where the natural shadows will keep you away from the sun whenever it gets too hot,
  • get your kids on the carousel, a classic daydreaming experience,
  • or just lie down somewhere on the grass, perhaps with some music or a book and let the sun do the rest – be careful not to expose yourself too long, and don’t neglect your best friend – the sunblock!

 

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

First stop: the famous Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, which features a bunch of fun educational activities – the best way to teach your kids while keeping them engaged.

There’s a lot you could visit – you may feel confused as to what your priority should be – so here’s a short selection of activities you don’t want to miss.

 

Our recommendations:

The Argonaute Submarine

argonaute paris
The Argonaute, at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Credit: Rama, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR

This very well-preserved submarine from the 50’s has travelled the distance equivalent of going 10 times around the world!

You’ll find it right outside of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Thanks to its audio-guide and its old photo exhibition you’ll find out about a mariner’s everyday life deep in the cold ocean.

Not to mention that it might be your only opportunity ever in your life to get into an authentic submarine!

Booking a ticket will also give you access to the other exhibitions at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. You should also schedule your sessions at the Argonaute, and other activities like the Planétarium, to minimize waiting times.

 

The Géode

geode cité des sciences paris
The Géode at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Credit: Zairon, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0

Here you’ll be faced with a giant hemispherical cinema that was built in 1895.

Inside, a selection of easy-to-understand educational short movies will be displayed.

They will revolve around science themes such as astronomy or physics, and ranging from basic concepts to more advanced ones.

Everything is kept simple though, so both kids and adults will get to learn about the world and its complexity in a really breath-taking environment.

After all, the main attraction here is the way these short movies are displayed – right on the inside of the sphere. It’s actually so large you won’t be able to look at the whole screen without moving your head.

This grandiose staging will make you appreciate the imagery even more.

If you’d like to book tickets, you will unfortunately have to wait until 2020 – as the Géode is currently being renovated. You can still add this to your summer 2020 to-do list though!

 

Cité de la Musique

Are you done visiting the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, or maybe are you more interested by the arts than science?

Don’t waste any more time and go check out the Cité de la Musique right next to your location.

grande halle la villette paris
The Grande Halle, at the Cité de la Musique. Credit:  Guillhem Vellut, FlickrCC BY 2.0

What does it have in store for you?

You could enjoy the free concerts or perhaps visit the Musée de la Musique, which retraces the stories of several music genres or musical instruments.

You might also notice these legendary concert halls during your visit :

  • The Philharmonie, made of three concert halls, has proven to be one of the main hotspots for music lovers;
  • The Grande Halle, a giant building made of steel and glass, and built in the nineteenth century. It now holds festivals, conventions, exhibitions and other large-capacity events;
  • The Zenith de Paris – which has to be one the most famous concert halls in the city. Comedy and music legends have come here to perform in front of a French audience.
    Fun fact: This is the first Zénith Concert Hall to ever open in France; the Zénith is now a well-established institution throughout the country.

 

Other activities at La Villette’s Park

Vill’up and iFly

Entrance of the mall
Credit: Jojo, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Would you like to do some shopping? You’ve come to the right place –  in this big mall that is open from 10 AM to 8 PM.

Expect to find:

  • a Pathé movie theater to watch a movie alone, as a family or with friends;
  • a bunch of stores, including a Foot Locker or a Cultura, for example;
  • many restaurants if you don’t feel like leaving to the Bassin de la Villette.

There you will get to experience another unique activity at the “iFly” store.

As the name kind of suggests, this is a free-falling simulator. You will be kept above the ground by a strong updraft coming from down below, while on the inside of a 14-meter tall tube.

Thanks to this you will get to try the skydiving experience without actually leaving the ground in the first place.

You will be having fun from the get go; however, be warned that you’ll need tens of hours of practice to truly master this one-of-a-kind hobby that is for sure going to get you hooked.

Book your tickets to give it a shot.

 

La Villette’s outdoor cinema

la Villette outdoor cinema
La Villette’s outdoor cinema. Credit: the event’s facebook page

Do you want to enjoy a good movie while being comfortably seated in a deckchair or right on the park’s grass?

Every summer, a themed free movie festival takes place in La Villette’s park. This is an event you’d not want to miss, whether you’re a movie goer or just anyone looking for a fun and original free evening event nearby. More information on their french website.

Dates: July / August

 

Jazz à la Villette

You JUST missed the movie festival? What a shame – but keep your hopes up, because you wouldn’t want to miss this jazz music festival.

jazz villette paris gogo penguin
« GoGo Penguin » at the Jazz à la Villette music festival in 2018. Credit:  Gael Varoquaux, FlickrCC BY 2.0

For around two weeks, several jazz concerts will take place in some of the park’s most iconic concert halls, such as the Grande Halle or the Philharmonie.

Get your tickets here to one of the concerts – or a pass to the whole festival.

Dates: End of August / first half of September

 

Have you now explored the park in its entirety? Well done! Now the time has come for you to sail to your next destination.

 

Bassin de La Villette

You’ve exited the park by following the canal and here it is: the Bassin de la Villette – the biggest artificial body of water in the city.

bassin villette paris
The Bassin de la Villette. Credit: Fred Romero, FlickrCC BY 2.0

You’re looking at another iconic part of the neighborhood – but this time not for the same reasons.

By the way, if you keep on going this way, you might reach the famous Canal Saint Martin.

Put aside your cultural trip for a few hours, because you wouldn’t want to miss the typical French cuisine you will be served in this welcoming part of La Villette.

Here you’ll find many cafés, bistros and restaurants – as well as their terraces, where you will finally get some well-deserved rest.

paris plage la villette
Paris Plage at La Villette in 2016. Credit: Lionel Allorge, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re visiting during summertime, you might see Paris Plage taking place on the bassin next to you. There you can enjoy some unexpected seaside vacation fun, hundreds of kilometers away from any sea or ocean.

 

Some places you should eat and drink at

So you arrived at the Bassin de La Villette, but you’re not sure which restaurant will float your boat? Here are some of our recommendations.

 

Café Odilon €€ – €€€

16 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris

pizza cafe odilon paris
A pizza at Café Odilon. Crédit: Café Odilon’s facebook page

If you want to get a true feel of Café Odilon, you should try one of the many pizzas on the menu. From the classics to original recipes, just go to town on them – especially the rectangular ones!

During summer, try to get a spot on the terrace to enjoy your meal under the sunshine, and with a nice view of the bassin.

Prices: A dish will cost you between 11 and 20 euros.

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday: 10AM to 2AM

Tripadvisor’s rating: 4/5

Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Facebook page.

 

Le Bastringue €€ – €€€

67 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris

bastringue paris
The bistro’s warming interior. Credit: Le Bastringue’s website

In this traditional bistro next to the bassin, you will feel at home with their local cuisine.

Expect to be served classic French dishes such as an entrecôte, a tartar or a veal parmentier.

We especially liked the speed and efficiency of the pleasantly cheerful waiting staff.

Prices: 20 euros will get you a starter, a main course and a glass of wine.

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 8AM to 2AM
  • Saturday to Sunday: 9AM to 2AM

Tripadvisor’s rating: 4/5

Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Website, Facebook page (unofficial) .

 

Paname Brewing Company €€ – €€€

41 bis Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

paname brewing company paris
A starter and a beer on the gorgeous terrace at the Paname Brewing Company. Credit: Paname Brewing Company’s facebook page

As the name gives away, this restaurant is a typical brewery producing its own homemade beers, which you’ll get a chance to taste.

You will also be served some refined “street food”, which will nicely complement their drink offering.

The icing on the cake is the terrace, which is located on a small boat right on the bassin.

No need to worry about the view any more – you’ll be so close you’ll actually be part of it.

Prices: 15 euros a dish, 10 euros a drink.

Opening hours: Every day from 11 AM to 2 AM

Kitchen opening hours:

  • Lunch: 12 PM to 3 PM
  • Dinner: 6:30 PM to 11 PM

Tripadvisor’s rating: 4/5

Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Website, Facebook page.

 

Au Rendez-vous de la Marine €€ – €€€

14 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

au rendez vous de la marine paris
A rack of lamb served at the Au Rendez-vous de la Marine. Credit: Au Rendez-vous de la Marine’s facebook page

Is it raining?

Or is it perhaps too cold for you to enjoy a meal on a terrace right next to the bassin?

This discreet-looking restaurant, located on one of the streets next to the bassin, will make up for the lack of great exterior appeal in every other category.

Inside, the succulent and generously-sized cuisine will await you in a very fitting and warming kitsch decor.

The waiting staff, as well as the owner, will be just as welcoming as their food.

Prices: A course meal and a drink will cost you 20 euros.

Opening hours:

  • Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday, 12 PM to 2 PM
  • Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday, 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM

Tripadvisor’s rating: 4.5/5

Google’s rating: 4.5/5

Website (in french), Facebook page.

 

Le Pavillon des Canaux €€ – €€€

39 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

pavillon des canaux paris
A brunch at Le Pavillon des Canaux. Credit: Le Pavillon des Canaux’s facebook page

For the last suggestion, let us present to you a one-of-a-kind restaurant that you need to know about.

This café, specializing in brunches on weekends, will leave you the choice to either sit at their splendid terrace with a view of the bassin, or find yourself some room inside this home-café.

Will you sit next to the fireplace, on a couch in the living room, or maybe even on a bed upstairs?

This truly unique experience is going to be polished to perfection by the quality of the food and the warming welcome of the waiting staff.

If you’re looking for a community-driven place to hang out at, this is the right choice for you.

Prices: Between 9 and 15 euros for a dish, and between 2.50 and 5 euros for a dessert.

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Wednesday: 10 AM to 12 AM
  • Thursday to Saturday: 10 AM to 1 AM
  • Sunday: 10 AM to 10 PM

Kitchen opening hours:

  • Lunch: 12 PM to 3 PM
  • Dinner: 7 PM to 10 PM

Tripadvisor’s rating: 3.5/5

Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Website, Facebook page.

 

What hotels should you stay at?

Hôtel des Buttes Chaumont**

4 Avenue Secrétan, 75019 Paris

This entirely renovated hotel will welcome you 24/7.

hotel buttes chaumont
The hotel’s facade

It’s only a two-minute walk away from the Bassin de la Villette. You’ll have walk down both the bassin and the canal to join the park, which is 20 minutes away from the hotel.

You could also go the other way around towards the Canal Saint Martin, or even head south towards the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

chambre hotel buttes chaumont
A double bedroom at the Hôtel des Buttes Chaumont

Couples will get to enjoy double bed rooms equipped with a bathtub; and rooms with showers are also available.

Not only is the breakfast included, but it can also be delivered to your door if you wish – an ideal breakfast in bed for the romantic couples, or the lazy ones who would rather enjoy it while watching a video on their phone using the hotel’s wifi!

Prices: rooms starting from 46 euros a night.

Access: a two-minute walk away from the bassin; 20 minutes away from the park. Count on 10 minutes on a bus; metro 2, 5 and 7 all are relatively near the hotel.

Hôtel des Buttes Chaumont: information and reservations.

 

Mercure Paris 19 Philharmonie La Villette

216 Avenue Jean Jaures – 75019 Paris

Located right down the park, the Mercure Hotel will welcome you in one of their spacious and distinguished rooms.

mercure hotel paris
The Mercure Hotel right next to La Villette’s park

A gym will be made available, whether you’re a gym rat or a more casual visitor.

New parents will enjoy some peaceful time thanks to the hotel’s daycare.

Now that you can explore freely, what should you do? You could go watch a show at the Zénith right next to you, or join your friends at the local bistro with no remorse.

chambre hotel mercure paris
A breakfast in bed at the Mercure Hotel

The breakfast will be delivered to your room if you don’t feel like leaving the warm embrace of your bed quite yet. If you do feel strong enough, however, a sizeable breakfast will be waiting for your downstairs.

If you ever feel hungry or thirsty, the hotel has a beautiful lounge-bar with a patio where you can enjoy a drink or two, as well as a chic restaurant where you can dine at.

Prices: rooms starting from 83 euros a night.

Access: right down the park, a ten-minute walk away from the bassin, metro 5 and 7 next to the hotel.

Mercure Paris 19 Philharmonie La Villette: information and reservations

 

Holiday Inn Express Paris Canal De La Villette***

68 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris

Built in 2008, this modern hotel follows a leading-edge environmental approach.

holiday inn express paris
The Holiday Inn Express Paris Canal De La Villette and its modern architecture alongside the Bassin de la Villette

Its location is exactly what you should be looking for – right at the bassin, and also next to the park.

You could also join each of the the Canal Saint Martin or the Parc des Buttes Chaumont in five minutes.

chambre holiday inn express paris
A bright and romantic rooom

The breakfast will of course be available as soon as you wake up. A bar and a restaurant will also be waiting for you.

Would you like to sip some hot beverages? Coffee and tea will be made available to you in your spacious (20 to 25m²) naturally lit bedroom.

Why not drink it in front of the huge television or while watching a video on the internet, using the hotel’s wifi?

Prices: rooms starting from 87 euros a night.

Access: at the bassin, next to the park, métro 5 or 7 next to the hotel.

Holiday Inn Express Paris Canal De La Villette: information and reservations

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