Jardin des Plantes: Where science, botanics, and nature converge in Paris

Visit Jardin des Plantes, Paris's oldest botanical gardens. From a live zoo, animal galleries, plant species, and minerals, there is much to see and explore.
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Right in the heart of Paris in the 5th arrondissement is a large botanical garden, called Jardin des Plantes, which also features 4 large galleries holding specimens of all types of animals.

Known as Paris’ oldest botanical garden, it is a perfect place to explore or picnic alongside the River Seine. With specimens that have been collected from all over Europe and the world, it is one of the most peaceful places in Paris in the heart of the city. And, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see the giraffes grazing in the park.

The term “Jardin des plantes” is a short form of its original name which was Jardin Royal des plantes médicinales, meaning “Royal Garden of the Medicinal Plants”.

The garden was dates back to 1626 designed Guy de La Brosse under King Louis XIII with plants from the garden used in tests for medical purposes. The land was chosen because a century earlier, the famous apothecary and pharmacist Nicolas Houël had already been giving courses in herbalism there since the 1540s.

In addition to the botanical garden, there are four large exhibition halls, featuring various collections of animal remains, plants, and minerals. There are also 5 greenhouses, 4 of which are usually open to public with plants species from different parts of the world.

With everything from large dinosaur bones to whale skeletons and stuffed lions, there is plenty to see for kids and adults alike. However unlike other museums, in the Jardin des Plantes you can purchase tickets separately, or all together.

So let’s see what exactly is there to see around the Jardin des Plantes, shall we? Allons-y!

1. The Gardens

Covering over 23 hectares, the garden is split into several different sections, including a medicinal herb garden, an alpine garden, a rose garden and an orangerie.

Gardens at Jardin des plantes
Gardens at Jardin des Plantes

Entry to the gardens is free, however there are guided visits that charge a fee depending on the number of people in the group.

2. The Zoo and Menagerie

The Zoo at Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1795 during the period just after the 1789 French Revolution. With Marie-Antoinette and family deposed from the Château de Versailles, the animals that were at Versailles were brought to Paris to be placed in a zoo “for the people”.

Goat at Jardin des Plantes

Today it holds over 600 animals and birds of over 150 different species. Tickets are around €13 for adults and €10 for children over the age of 3.

3. Grande galerie de l’Évolution

Built in 1994, the “Gallery of Evolution” is the new kid on the block. It includes over 1000 species of animals big and small.

Deer at the Grande galerie de l'Évolution

Using taxidermy techniques, the animals presented range from lions, tigers, and bears, to the smallest insects and butterflies. There is also a rage of sea creatures like sharks, octopuses, etc.

Prices are around €10 for adults, while people under 26 are free.

4. Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée

Dating back to 1898, the “Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy” displays over 650 dinosaur remains.

Over a surface area of approximately 2,500 m2, you will find fossil vertebrates on the first floor, and invertebrates and fossil plants are on the second floor.

Dinosaur Bones Galerie de Paléontologie et d'Anatomie

Notable specimens include a Cynthiacetus from Peru dating back to -38 to -36 million years ago, as well as the only authentic woolly mammoth skeleton preserved outside Russia.

Prices are around €10 for adults, while people under 26 are free.

5. Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie

“Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology” building dates back to 1837 and displays a variety of minerals, crystals and other rock formations.

The actual collection dates back to 1625 when minerals were deposited in the “droguier du roi “, meaning the pharmacist of the King. The samples were to be used for testing and healing the ailments of the King and other members of nobility

Today, with a collection of over 770,000 specimens and samples of rocks, minerals, crystals, gems, and meteorites, the collection is among the oldest and most prestigious in the world. Entry is free.

6. Galerie de Botanique

Inaugurated in 1935, the “Gallery of Botany” with a collection of almost 8 million samples of plants.

jardin botanique
Jardin des Plantes

The Art Deco style building was built with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation, with a floor area of ​​approximately 3,500 m2, to house various herbs, seeds, and other botanical samples accumulated over 230 years.

Tickets are around €7 for adults and €3 for children over the age of 3.


So, are you planning on visiting the Jardin des plantes in Paris? If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading more about the best museums in Paris. A bientôt!

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