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The Jardin Des Plantes is one of the famous gardens in Paris. It is located in the 5th arrondissement, at the edge of the Latin Quarter, not far from the Seine River and the Arènes de Lutèce.
Opened to the public 400 years ago, the Jardin Des Plantes is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a fun, relaxing, or romantic day in Paris.
The Jardin des Plantes offers plenty of things to do for both adults and kids. If you are curious to learn all about the Jardin Des Plantes, this article is for you!
Le Jardin des Plantes – History
The Jardin Des Plantes has a long and interesting history. First created in 1635 as the Jardin Royal des Plantes Médicinales (royal garden for the cultivation of medicinal herbs, its former name), the Jardin Royal opened to the public five years later. Parisians could visit the garden to relax and participate in free botany, chemistry, and anatomy courses.
It was only in 1793 that the Jardin Des Plantes became a state-owned institution when the garden was enriched by the openings of the National Museum of Natural History and the Ménagerie.
The National Museum of Natural History was both a museum and a research center, led by prestigious scientists such as Cuvier, Lamarck, and later Gay-Lussac.
The Ménagerie was the other exceptional addition to the Jardin de Plantes, where the animals of the Royal Ménagerie of Versailles were grouped.
Best Things to Do in the Jardin Des Plantes
There are so many attractions inside the Jardin Des Plantes that you can surely enjoy your time here on a rainy day or on a hot summer one. Whether traveling with your kids, partner, friends, or alone, these are the best things to do in the Jardin Des Plantes.
1. Grandes Serres (Greenhouses)
In the Jardin Des Plantes, you will find several greenhouses displaying different species of plants. The greenhouses are located inside beautiful art-deco buildings from the 1930s. There are five greenhouses in the Jardin des Plantes, four of which are open to the public.
Enjoy a refreshing and romantic walk inside the greenhouses and admire fauna in four different areas: the tropical forest and rainforest, desert and arid environments, and New Caledonia. The last greenhouse is perfect for learning about history and science as it shows the long history of the evolution of plants.
The Grandes Serres is the perfect spot to spend a wonderful time in the Jardin Des Plantes. To enter the Grandes Serres, you will have to pay an entrance fee, and tickets can be purchased on-site.
2. Grande Galérie de l’Evolution
Part of the National Museum of Natural History, the Gallery of Evolution (Gallery of Evolution) will be the joy of children and adults alike! By visiting the Gallery of Evolution, you will learn about the evolutionary process of the human species and how humans lived side by side with prehistoric animals, such as mammoths.
If you visit Paris with kids, you cannot miss this place. The Grande Galérie de l’Evolution exhibits a wide range of stuffed animals and skeletons and is housed in a stunning historical building that was recently renovated. Many of the animals in the Gallery’s permanent collection have been on display for almost 200 years!
3. Galérie de Palentoloie et Anatomie Comparée
The Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery is one of the best features of the Jardin Des Plantes. Established in 1898, the museum is divided into separate galleries which display staggering collections.
In the Galérie de Palentoloie et Anatomie Comparée, you will see amazingly-preserved fossils of living and extinct animals. Giant ground sloths, woolly rhinoceros, and many sizes of mammoths are among the impressive creatures in the exhibition. But the bright stars of the Gallery are, without a doubt, the massive dinosaur skeletons!
There is no better way to spend your time inside the Jardin Des Plantes than seeing incredible animals from the past! The visit to this museum is also like a step back in time: the building keeps its original structure, decoration, and atmosphere of those European museums of the 19th century. We love it!
4.Ménagerie du Jardin Des Plantes (Zoo)
The Ménagerie is the last addition to the Jardin Des Plantes. The small zoo was once owned by the French monarchs and houses hundreds of animals. It was Zarafa’s home in Paris after her adventurous journey from Egypt to the French capital.
Today, the Ménagerie works as a refuge for endangered species, and zoologists work to ensure the animals’ welfare and to protect many fragile species.
The work done at the Ménagerie is incredibly important, and you can support it by visiting the zoo. You will love to see up-close crocodiles, tree kangaroos, leopards, and more than 70 species of birds.
5.Jardin Alpin (Alpine Garden)
The Jardin Des Plantes houses a wonderful Alpine Garden that gathers wild mountain plants. Established in the 1930s, inside the Alpine Garden are collected 2,000 mountain plant species and 32 rocks from several mountain sectors. The Jardin Alpin recreates specific mountain environments from different mountain regions, such as the Alps and the Himalayas.
Do you want to know the best part of the Jardin Alpin? The fact that it is hidden! There is no path to get to it: the garden is only accessible via a hidden underground tunnel. The tunnel entrance is set by the Botanic School’s medical garden.
The Jardin Alpin is a real secret gem; if you can find it, it’s the best spot to have a bucolic break right in the heart of Paris!
6. Dodò Manège
The Dodò Manège is a gorgeous carousel that blends perfectly with the environment of the Jardin Des Plantes. Opened in 1992, the idea behind the carousel was to create rides resembling extinct and endangered animals.
Among the most beautiful carousels in Paris, the Dodò Manège is an unusual carousel, and every kid will have their best time riding a Dodo or a Triceratops!
Besides the peculiar rides, the carousel is beautifully decorated with a jungle theme on the inside and painted panels depicting wild animals on the outside. The Dodò Manège is a fun way to spend time with your kids while in the Jardin Des Plantes.
7. Cherry blossoms
One of the best activities to do in Spring in Paris is admiring the blossoming pink and white cherry tree flowers. The spectacle of cherry blossoms lasts only for a few weeks at the beginning of the Spring season, between March and April.
Depending on the weather conditions, the cherry blossom period might be longer or shorter, but one thing is certain: the Jardin Des Plantes is one of the best places in Paris to watch cherry blossoms in Paris!
Among the beautiful flowers you can see inside the garden, make sure to get to the central alley to admire the huge pink-flowered cherry trees. The other unmissable cherry trees in the Jardin Des Plantes are two stunning white-flowered ones that make the perfect spot for some beautiful Spring pictures in Paris.
8. Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights is one of the best festivals of Christmas in Paris, during which the Jardin Des Plantes brightens up with an extraordinary light show.
The Paris Light Festival enchants everyone with the monumental light structures set in the garden. The light installations change every year, but they are usually related to endangered species.
Take a walk at night and immerse yourself in the open-air exhibition that combines art, science, and poetry while admiring the magic spectacle of lights. Make sure to reserve your ticket online to avoid missing the Festival of Lights in Paris!
What to Do Near the Jardin des Plantes
- Panthéon de Paris
- Arènes de Lutèce
- Grande Mosquée de Paris
- Institut du Monde Arabe
- Musée Cluny
- Seine River Cruise
- Ile Saint-Louis
Jardin des Plantes – Practical Information
The Jardin des Plantes is open every day. Opening times depend on the season:
- From 30 October 30 to 28 February: 8 am – 5:30 pm.
- From 27 March to 30 September: 7:30 am. – 8 pm.
- From 1 October 1 to 29 October: 8 am. – 6:30 pm.
The Alpine Garden has an annual closure from 15 November to the end of February.
The Iris Garden is closed on weekends.
The Museums are open every day except Tuesdays, from 10 am to 6 pm.