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This vast complex, which includes a park, museums, concert halls, and other cultural institutions, was built on the site of the city’s slaughterhouses, abandoned since the mid-1970s. Construction began in 1980, when Bernard Tschumi, a French-Swiss architect, was chosen to create an urban cultural park accessible to one and all. The park is certainly a success on the cultural end: It harbors Cité de la Musique and Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie—two excellent museums—as well as the Zénith and Cabaret Sauvage concert halls, not to mention the Philharmonie de Paris. As far as the green spaces go—well, let me put it this way: If it is possible for a park to have a sense of humor, this one definitely has one. Eleven themed gardens are dotted with 25 red folies—oddball contemporary structures that sometimes house a drink stand or an information booth, and sometimes are just there for the heck of it. The gardens range from the sublime to the silly; a few are strictly reserved for children (who can bring along their parents).

From mid-July to mid-August the Cinéma en Plein Air takes place Tuesday to Sunday at sundown, presenting classic movies for free.