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The 21st century comes to Paris.

Billed as a grand 21st-century urban park, the cultural complex of La Villette in northeastern Paris still has the raw look of a construction zone. But the first phase of building is complete, and for Paris visitors who've seen the usual sights, this development in the 19th arrondissement offers an interesting glimpse into the future.

The site of cattle markets and slaughter-houses since 1867, La Villette became a centerpiece for redevelopment of the La Villette district in 1974. While work will continue at least through 1988, two major centers of the complex have just opened.

Refurbished Grande Halle may be the best example of 19th-century steel-and-glass architecture left in Paris. Its 5 acres of floor space reopened in February as a massive, yet light and airy, display gallery. July 9 through August 11, see an exhibit of games titled "Grands Jeux" (hours and costs not set at our press time). Behind the Grande Halle, an eight-story polished steel sphere reflects the sky. Aptly called La Geoda, it houses a 370-seat theater with the largest hemispherical screen in the world (Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, Alamogordo, and Tijuana have similar but smaller theaters). It opened May 9 with a film titled Man and Water; shows will be in full swing by June. Hours are 11 to 9:30 Tuesdays through Sundays; admission is about $4.25, $1.60 for children under 16.

The boxy building under construction next to the sphere will be a national museum for science, technology, and industry, to open in 1986. Plans for 74 acres of landscaped park and a Music City (which will house a national music conservatory) are still in the works.

For details on programs, hours, and admissions, and a project overview, stop at the information trailers across from the Grande Halle entrance, or call (1) 240 2728. An Enlish-speaking receptionist is usually on hand to answer questions. Hours are noon to 7 daily. The Porte de Pantin stop on the easy-to-use Metro is 100 yards from the information office.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Grand Halle
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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