An escape to the Jardin des Plantes
Published on In Paris
As spring approaches, how about a stroll among centuries-old trees, tropical greenhouses, Tasmanian devils and a gallery containing the whole history of human evolution? This is the kind of astonishing diversity to be found in the Jardin des Plantes!
A garden rich in discovery
We have Guy de la Brosse and Jean Héroard, physicians to Louis XIII, to thank for the idea of creating this garden so that students could learn about herbalism. Great botanists such as Buffon, Lamarck, Cuvier, Lacépède and so many others enriched it with discoveries from their travels, one bringing back a tobacco plant, another a cocoa tree. Seeds found in 1702 by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort produced the pistachio tree you can see in the Alpine Garden, while the cedar of Lebanon is said to have been brought back and planted by Bernard de Jussieu himself in 1734.
Greenhouses and galleries
Impressive structures of iron and glass, the garden’s greenhouses are home to large collections of tropical plants and desert flora. In the galleries, you’ll come across a coelacanth, a mammoth and a brontosaurus among other magnificent creatures, some of which date back as far as 600 million years! Currently you can enjoy a presentation that asks, and answers, the question ‘What did the dinosaurs eat?’. Delicious!
The Grand Gallery of Evolution
Get ready to be greeted by a herd of African animals led by an elephant walking proudly towards you. Look up and your astonished eyes meet a pair of immense whale skeletons and, just beyond, the imposing bulk of a giant squid, the legendary kraken that was once thought just a seafarer’s fantasy, watching you patiently. On the upper balconies you can find out more about species diversity and the naturalists who deciphered life’s mysteries. The branches of evolution, adaptations, extinctions... And then there’s the question of our place in all this...
Hotel des Mines, a warm hotel in the heart of the 5th arrondissement.