Paris’s tropical aquarium was constructed in 1931 by French architect Albert Laprade and it was intended as a permanent reminder of the Paris Colonial Exposition; the building has a distinctive colonnaded façade designed to resemble a classical Greek temple and it is a monument to Art Deco styling. The exterior walls are covered in bas-relief carvings of more than 250 figures and animals depicting life in France’s colonies, which were created by sculptor Alfred Janniot. Today the aquarium makes a great family afternoon out, with over 5,000 animals and fish from more than 300 colorful species on display, from barracudas to turtles and starfish.
Recent additions to the aquarium are two rare young albino alligators, while temporary exhibitions take on weighty subjects such as global warming and conservation. Upstairs in the Palais de la Porte Dorée is a small museum showcasing the story of immigration into France from her colonies, but the most spectacular part of the Palais de la Porte Dorée is the ground floor, with walls adorned with friezes of colonial scenes and stylish Art Deco furniture on display in the banqueting hall.