Fodor's Expert Review Palais de la Porte Dorée
If you're bound for the Bois de Vincennes, pay a visit to the Palais de la Porte Dorée. Built for the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, it's one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in Paris. The ornate facade features bas-relief sculptures representing France's erstwhile empire. Inside, the elaborate marble, ornate metalwork, and original lighting are all beautifully maintained. Entry to the ground floor is free. On either end are furnished salons, one representing Asia, the other Africa (a Gucci commercial was filmed in the latter); peek into the central room, called the Forum, where restored Africa-inspired mosaics line the walls. The upper floors are occupied by the Cité Nationale de l'Historie de l'Immigration, a well-executed modern museum tracing the history of immigration in France. The basement contains L'Aquarium Tropical, a small but engaging aquarium with a pair of rare albino alligators plus many types of exotic marine life.