A hidden gem in Paris, the Institut Du Monde Arabe is an absolute delight to visit. The first thing you notice is the striking beauty of the building itself. Marrying the best of East and West, the museum's trademark south facade features 240 high-tech mashrabiya or windows enclosed with intricate latticework, traditional elements in Arabic architecture. The multiple window apertures automatically adjust every hour according to the light needs inside of the building. Curated as a way to help foster better understanding between France and the Arab world, the Institut's permanent collection walks you through the very beginnings of Arab culture, the appearance of Islam alongside Judaism and Christianity (and the vast similarities between all these religions), as well as the diverse languages and cultural elements across the peninsula, including beauty, music, and hospitality. In addition to the permanent collection, the Institut plays host to numerous exhibitions throughout the year. For those lucky enough to visit this summer, you will be treated to a first hand experience of what it was like to be a passenger on the Orient Express, complete with reconstructed train cars, objects, photographs, posters, and movies recreating this historic luxury transport connecting West with East. Even if you don't visit one of the exhibits, stop in for an afternoon mint tea and kanafeh (sweet cheese pastry) from the ground floor Café Littéraire, or head up to the rooftop restaurant, Le Zyriab, to enjoy an elaborate Lebanese dinner while overlooking the twinkling lights of Notre Dame and the Seine.