La Vilette: "Bon Appétit"

Once upon time, La Vilette was the biggest slaughterhouse in Paris, built way up north of the city center, so that butchers and eaters would be kept well apart. Nowadays, the whole area has been transformed into a grand open space for recreational and educational purposes. You’ll find innovative childrens’ playgrounds here and futuresque exhibition halls showing musical instruments, technical apparatus, the natural and lots of other sciences. Every now and then they go back to their roots here,and that’s the case right now at Cité des Sciences, where they’ve put together a very pretty expo called „Bon Appétit! , which runs until January of next year (and it’s bilingual French-English!).

What would Mona Lisa have eaten?

Be prepared for a small interactive paradise meant for children aged 9 years and older but adults can have fun, too. You play – and you learn about ingredients and products, about calories and nutrition but without feeling that you’re being taught a lesson. Instead. you push buttons, move plates and trays and let yourself be surprised by the amount of effort the architects have put in. You're invited to think about what a woman such as Mona Lisa might have eaten, you get insights into what people eat around the world and at the end you can test your knowledge in a kind of quiz show.

Green beans or Nutella?

What do you learn? Well, I was impressed by an installation where visitors have to use 15 calories of energy to move plates around a race track – each of them holding with 15 calories of food: I really didn’t know how many green beans that takes and how a tiny slice of a chocolate bar can contain that small amount of energy. Anyway: If you’re in town and travelling with children, if you stay a little longer than is needed to take in all the major sites, you could think about spending, say, half a day high up in La Vilette. Your little ones will be grateful, that’s for sure (they even have merry-go-rounds up there!); and you can take a rest from the historic overkill downtown. Cité des sciences et de l'industrie 30, Avenue Corentin Cariou 75019 Paris. Exhibition „Bon Appétit“ running until January 2, 2011 Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm,
Sunday 10am to 7pm. Closed Monday. Métro: Porte de la Vilette