Paris is obviously a fabulous place to go if you are interested in art and literature. It’s also a wonderful place to go if you’re interested in architecture and history. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that the city is also a great place to go in order to get to grips with a bit of science.
The fact is that a metropolis like Paris caters for everyone. Those who are fascinated by science will find as much to keep them interested when they head to the French capital as those who are madly in love with the literature of the Lost Generation or Impressionist art.
So what are the major attractions in the city for scientists? Well, the obvious first choice is the Musée des Arts et Métiers. This is a pretty iconic museum in the 3rd arrondissement of the city – not necessarily the most salubrious part of town but the museum itself is a revelation.
The museum can be reached on foot from the Centre Pompidou, although it’s a bit of a walk so a taxi from any of the central locations might be a better option in the interest of saving time when stopping by.
The museum is home to the original Foucault pendulum which was used to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation – the version of the pendulum found in the Pantheon is a copy, impressive as it happens to be.
The pendulum is one of the first things to see in the old section of the museum, but it’s certainly worth walking around the whole museum – although this will take a while! There’s loads to see and the collection is extremely interesting. The best time to stop by is in the evening when there are very few tourists.
Another fantastic scientific sight to check out is the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle which is found next to the Jardin des Plantes (another lovely place to visit, especially for keen botanists). This museum is a natural history museum like many of those found in the UK, but it’s presentation is absolutely flawless.
The fact is that the history and culture of Paris has not only been built on the arts, but also on exploration, natural philosophy and the various disciplines of science and it’s a shame to miss out on some of the attractions that are devoted to this particular aspect of the city.
Getting around Paris is really easy using public transport and by travelling on foot, so it’s easy to fit science into the agenda when seeing the sights.
This article was written by Loic Mazarin, French student and blog contributor for parisblackcabs.com.