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A Brief History of The Parc de la Villette in Paris

Updated: Nov 8

What is La Villette?


La Villette, also know as The Parc de la Villette, is the largest urban cultural complex in Paris with a number of cultural venues


La Villette Basin

La Villette History


In the past, the area of Paris that La Villette occupies would not have been considered a ‘major attraction’, with few guidebooks recommending it as a place to visit (largely due to its location). However today La Villette welcomes millions of visitors every year who come to enjoy its varied attractions.


In the southern part of the park is the Grande Halle, a 19th-century slaughterhouse now used as a space for cultural events and trade fairs. Dotted around La Villette you’ll also find a number of bright red pavilions, or ‘follies’ as they’re known, constructions suggestive of a purpose whilst also being built for decorative reasons. 26 of these structures are scattered throughout the park at around a distance of 120 metres from each other. These follies were designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and each serve a different function, housing various activities from climbing frames to children’s arts centres and burger bars.

The radio telescope in the parc de la Villette in Paris, France

Additional cultural areas inside the park include L’Espace Chapiteaux, a space for circus acts, as well as L’Espace Périphérique, originally an area dedicated to the National Circus School, which is now used for street arts including puppetry. In addition, La Villette is also home to an impressive modern concert hall, Le Zénith Paris, one of the largest music venues in the city.


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