Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris
Complete with a menagerie zoo and museums including the Natural History museum, the Jardin des Plantes was once a royal medicinal garden and has been open to the public for over 400 years as a botanical garden in Paris.
A bit of history
The Jardin des Plantes was first founded back in 1626 as a royal botanical garden of medicinal plants and was designed and planted by the physician of King Louis XIII, called Guy de La Brosse.
At this time it was purely for the King and his court, and did not open to the public until 1650, yet it began to decline and John Baptiste Colbert was put in charge of the garden in order to bring it back up to its original splendour and purpose.
John Baptiste Colbert decided to appoint Dr Guy Crescent Fagon to oversee the gardens, and in 1693 he chose some of the finest botanists at the time to assist with the task of improving these botanical gardens in Paris.
And so, with a far wider variety of different types of planting executed, by botanists such as Antoine Laurent de Jussieu and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, the Jardin des Plantes grew quite substantially.
It was then in the year 1739 that the Comte de Buffon took over the supervision of the garden, and he made many changes and additions, yet probably the most recognised one was that of adding a labyrinth or maze, which the children loved, and still do today, as this is a part of the Jardin des Plantes you can still discover.
The next major change came in 1792 when the royal menagerie was moved from the Chateau Versailles to the Jardin des Plantes, and this small zoo was an instant success and is also still located within the gardens today.
About Jardin des Plantes in Paris
Covering an area of approximately 69 acres on the left bank of the River Seine, the Jardin des Plantes is the most popular and widely visited of all botanical gardens in France, and has been classified as an historical monument and landmark in Paris.
It is home to a botany school where you can discover demonstration gardens laid out by its students along with a diverse selection of plants from different climates and areas of the world, such as the Alpine garden with over 2000 species of mountain plants.
But there is also a beautiful and romantic rose garden that contains over 300 different species of roses, and another is an iris garden, plus you can discover the Dutch styled perennial garden, the kingdom of peonies, a vegetable garden, herb garden, an art deco winter garden, etc.
Now we mentioned earlier that there is a labyrinth or maze, and as a reward for reaching the end you will be able to discover a Gazebo which has also been classified as an historical monument in Paris, as in fact, this is one of the oldest metal constructions in the world.
Some of the other buildings within the Jardin des Plantes have also been classed as historical monuments, as they were constructed back in the 18th century, and you can discover the Gallery of Geology and Minerology, which was built as a research centre along with the Grand Gallery of Evolution.
It is also like walking back through time with many trees dating back centuries like the Lebanese Cedar that was planted by Bernard de Jussieu back in 1734 and the avenues of Plane trees that provide a lovely perspective towards the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, not forgetting the ever changing scenes you can enjoy from a wide variety of flora from Spring through to Autumn.
There are also statues located within the grounds of the Jardin des Plantes that are of influential people who shaped the gardens centuries ago, such as one depicting the Comte de Buffon, and you also still have the Menagerie Parc Zoologique de Paris of animals that children will love.
But the Jardin des Plantes does not stop there, as there are still other places you can discover including the Natural History Museum, or in French, the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle that also houses a restaurant called La Baleine, plus there is the Cabinet of History of the Garden and another called the Galeries d’Anatomie Comparee et de Paleontologie, which was also founded centuries ago.
Visiting the Jardin des Plantes
You may be pleased to know that visiting the Jardin des Plantes is free to enter and wander around, which is open all year round, apart from during adverse weather conditions such as extreme high winds or temperatures, when it can be closed.
The Jardin des Plantes is open from 8am through to 5:30pm during the winter months and at all other times this incredible botanical garden is open from 7:30am through to 8pm, but we would like to point out that you cannot enter the gardens a minimum of 15 minutes before closing time.
We would also like to point out that the Alpine Garden is always closed during the winter months and the Garden of Peonies is only open during the summer months, whereas the Rose Garden is open during weekdays from 8:30am through to 3:30pm, but is closed at weekends.
However, the Wildlife Garden is closed to the general public, and is only accessible via a prearranged guided tour, and for more information on this you would need to telephone +33 (0) 8 26 10 42 00.
Although the Grand Serres, which in English translates to the Great Greenhouses are open from 10am through to 5pm, but you can find out more details and costs related to the specific attractions within the Jardin des Plantes by our dedicated pages.
Now when it comes to public transport in Paris, the nearest Metro stations are the Gare d’Austerlitz stop serving lines 5 and 10, the Censier - Daubenton stop via line 7 or the Jussieu stop that serves lines 7 and 10.
However, if you are travelling to or from Paris via train, then the nearest train station is the Gare d'Austerlitz that serves the TER and Intercities trains as well as the RER for the RER C Line.
Alternatively, you have the Batobus water bus shuttle service that has a stop very close by on the River Seine, and the bus lines 24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 89 and 91 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via Lines N02 and N31 will also get you near to the Jardin des Plantes, not forgetting the bus tours in Paris such as the company called l’OpenTour.
Yet for those of you that prefer your own means of transport, there is parking available at the Gare d'Austerlitz nearby for your own vehicle, plus there is also a Velib station located just by the entrance, which is the self service bike rental scheme in Paris, that is ideal for getting around on your own steam.