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By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
After days exploring the halls of Paris’ biggest and – let’s face it – most exhausting museums, every visitor to the city needs a break. For an inexpensive respite, you can always head to a café or sit in a park.
But why not step into one of Paris’s newest galleries and check your email or kick back with some free video games? Introducing the Gaîté Lyrique!
A new kind of gallery
The Gaîté Lyrique is a new kind of gallery that mixes cool technology with traditional art and music. Located just north of Paris’s Marais neighborhood and near the Arts et Métiers science museum, the Gaîté is just 10 minutes from the Pompidou Center. The best part is that they offer computers, a small library, wireless internet, and video games for free.
According to their web communications director Thibaut Thomas, “It’s not a museum, and not a concert hall,” but instead, something more complex.
The center is housed in a 19th-century theater, remnants of which are visible in the café upstairs. After several renovations—including a short stint as a French Inspector Gadget theme park—the Gaîté opened in March 2011 as Paris’ premier art and tech fusion center.
Video games and art books
Just up the stairs past the entry is a great place to relax with some vintage video games or a new game that you’ve never seen before. There are also moveable pods where you can kick back to watch a movie or read one of the works available in the ever-growing library of techie texts and art books.
You can buy a ticket for one of the temporary exhibitions (€5), located downstairs. The current exhibit, called “Pictoplasm: Post Digital Monsters,” features international representations of the Yetti, including sculptures, installations, and an entire wall papered with artists’ drawings. You can even create your own at the table just in front of the wall.
Concerts and films
If you manage to snag a spot at one of the Gaîté’s concerts, first go upstairs and grab a drink in the refurbished 19th-century theater wing before heading into the giant soundproof cube for the stylings of indie, acoustic, electro-pop and avant-garde musicians.
The center also houses conferences and film projections, some of which are in English (check the Web site).
The Gaîté Lyrique is a great find if you’ve had your fill of Picasso and Napoléon and want to experience something different… and free.
3 bis rue Papin, 75003 Paris
Hours: Open daily, closed Monday
Hungry for more free museums? Check out our list of free and discounted museums in Paris.