A Bird's Eye View Of Paris At The Nuit Blanche Festival

Held on the first Saturday of October, the Nuit Blanche festival in Paris combines large-scale art installations and happenings with the opportunity to discover little-known parts of the city. This year's theme, "Paris à l'infini", follows the flow of the Seine and aims to beat the normal lengthy queues by opening unusual panoramic viewpoints on the happenings taking place on 6 October. Chief amongst these are the 15 tall buildings – none of which is the Eiffel Tower – that will be opened specially, and exceptionally, for the event.

Here's a look at four of these belvédères, all on the east side of the city.

The Tour Morland

The Tour Morland office block sits on what was the Ile Louviers, a small island on the Seine that existed up until the middle of the 19th century. Somewhat appropriately – given the controversial high-rise concrete architecture – it houses the city's urban planning offices. Although the building has often been criticised, and is today threatened by demolition, it has always had a very tempting looking terrace on the 15th floor. This is a unique chance to visit it.
17 Boulevard Morland, métro Sully-Morland, open from 9pm-2am

L'Institut du Monde Arabe

The eighth-floor terrace of Jean Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe (pictured) is a relatively well-known viewpoint in the city, offering a sweeping vista down across the Ile Saint Louis to Notre Dame. Less well-known is the Salle du Haut Conseil, the institution's meeting room and conference space situated a floor higher. If visiting, note that the institute's museum spaces and galleries will also be open during the Nuit Blanche.
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, imarabe.org, métro Sully-Morland, open from 9pm-2am

Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

From the Seine, visitors to the national library of France are generally sent up a steep flight of steps before then being sent back down into the depths of the building. The Nuit Blanche offers the opportunity to climb up to the 18th-floor of one of the building's four generally inaccessible book-end towers.

At a height of nearly 70 metres, it should give a fantastic view down towards one of the highlights of this year's festival, Jacqueline Dauriac's Suivez mon Panache Rose. Installed in a waste incineration plant, it will transform the site's twin chimneys and their escaping steam into an ever-changing multicoloured creation. Pollution as art!
Tour 2, Quai François-Mauriac, bnf.fr, métro Quai de la Gare or RER C Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand, open from 7pm-2am

Université Pierre et Marie Curie

The highest of all the viewpoints this Saturday night will be from the 24th floor of the tower at the heart of the Jussieu university site. At the foot of the tower, the Décor Sonore company will create a jardin Sharawadji, an installation built around the "contextual sounds" of the surrounding architecture and landscape (which probably equates to people hitting buildings with a hammer).
• 4 place Jussieu, métro Jussieu, open from 7pm-7am

The other Nuit Blanche viewpoints

Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine
Musee Quai Branly
BHV (Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville)
Centre Pompidou
Hôtel industriel
Gymnase Lucien Gaudin
Cité Internationale des Arts
Musée du Louvre
Les docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design
INALCO Pôle des Langues et Civilisations
Musée National des Arts Asiatiques

For a sneak preview of the views from some of these buildings, visit nuitblanche.paris.fr/belvederes. See the full programme at nuitblanche.paris.fr/en

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk