The Observatoire de Paris is a research center in astronomy. It is composed of 3 sites, and the one in Paris is the oldest.
It has been founded by Colbert and was built from 1667 to 1672. Through the ages, the greatest French and European astronomers worked there! For example, the Swedish scientist Olaus Römer discovered the speed of light there…
The building that can be admired today on the avenue is really magnificent. It has been built by Perrault, which is the author of the Colonnade du Louvre. And you can note that the four facades of the Observatory are oriented facing the four cardinal points. If you are lost, this is the place to be 🙂
You can visit the Observatoire de Paris within a group ; an astronomer, or a researcher, will guide you through the building. You will discover the “clocks room”, a large gallery where you can admire some of the centerpieces of the Observatory’s instrumental collections, then the Council Chamber and the Salle Cassini (traversed on a north-south axis by the meridian of Paris). You will feel how this place is full of history ! It is really great to visit there.
However, you should know that you have to book weeks in advance in order to have a room. But trust me, it’s totally worth it !
Plus, you can also visit the gardens which are open only between 4.15pm and 5 pm on weekdays. It is a short time, but it definitely worth the trip! Indeed you can look at an astonishing building of Jean Prouvé, dating from 1940. So beautiful !