Photo credit: © 2013 Michel Denis Pouradier,
all rights reserved
Yesterday, Babydog proposed an impromptu outing to escape from La Courneuve for the day. Given the way I generally feel about my neighborhood, I was all in favor! We initially planned to take the train to Beauvais to see the cathedral, but then decided to make a less expensive excursion to Versailles. Because of early closing hours this weekend, though, we finally settled on an afternoon at France’s chief botanical garden …
Le Jardin des Plantes
Having first gotten ginned up for a dramatic light show on the façade of a gothic cathedral, then for the opulence of Louis XIV‘s palace and gardens, I wasn’t expecting anything particularly impressive at a botanical garden. I was pleasantly surprised by what we found.
But before we get to the photos, a little background …
The Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1626, but it was not until 1635 that Louis XIII‘s physician, Guy de la Brosse, planted a medicinal herb garden there. (By the way, I just have to point out that the doctor’s name means “Guy of the Brush.” Okay, moving on …) The garden first opened to the public in 1640 and was significantly expanded in 1739. Today, eleven different gardens are home to thousands of plant species. A 14,000-square-foot greenhouse complex, constructed in stages between 1714 and 1937, features four different climates: rainforest, desert, Australian, and paleobotanical. As part of the National Museum of Natural History, the grounds also house four museums: on evolution, mineralogy, paleontology, and entomology. In 1793, the royal menagerie at Versailles was transported to the gardens, making it the second oldest zoological park in the world. Because of its small size, the menagerie can’t accommodate some larger species like elephants, giraffes and lions. Nevertheless, it still houses over 1,000 animals, including an orangutan whose expressiveness in front our cameras pretty much summed up my conflictual feelings about keeping animals behind glass walls. You can see him in the gallery below.
Since it was such a beautiful day, we spent our time at the zoo and in the garden of the Botany School, one of the eleven gardens organized to trace the evolutionary history and modern classification of the world’s plants. Of course, we added a visit to the greenhouses at the very end of our stay. We’re saving the museums for another visit on a cooler, rainier day.
And now, the gallery of photos from the menagerie,
the Botany School garden, and the greenhouses
(photos by Babydog and me)
To open the gallery, simply click on one of the photos below (or on a white space if nothing appears). You will then be able then scroll through all of the photos in a larger format.
Getting there …
The Jardin des Plantes is situated between the Great Mosque of Paris and the Jussieu campus of Paris VI. You can most easily access the Jardin des Plantes from the Gare d’Austerlitz Métro station on the 5 and 10 lines or from Jussieu or Place Monge on the 7 line. The exterior gardens are free to the public, except for the alpine garden, which costs 2€. An adult ticket to the menagerie costs 11€, and an adult ticket to the greenhouses costs €6. You can access the website here for more information (in French).
© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved