Jardin des Plantes founded by Louis XIII
The Jardin des Plantes opened to the public in 1640.
The botanical school founded by King Louis XIII had two purposes, train students and grow medicinal plants.
The naturalist Buffon, who administered the establishment from 1739 to 1788, enlarged it twofold in the 1770’s.
He also turned it into a major centre for the study of botany, chemistry and anatomy.
Not only the Jardin des Plantes escaped destruction during the French Revolution, but it was converted in order to house the National Museum of Natural History.
The museum contains priceless collections and offers many permanent and temporary exhibits.
What does the Jardin des Plantes includes?
The main entrance, on Place Valhubert, boasts prime views of the formal gardens and Grande Galerie de l’Evolution.
This building today include La Galerie des Enfants (Childrens’ Gallery), a obviously space dedicated to families.
The imposing Galerie d’Anatomie Comparée et de Paléontologie is located along Rue Buffon.
It’s easy to find, look for the cast Stegosaurus and elephant that guard its entrance!
The Jardin des Plantes has four of Paris’ oldest trees.
The oldest of all is a Robinia (acacia) planted in 1635 at the junction of Allée Becquerel and Allée Buffon.
The original tree died long ago, however, it regenerated through a multitude of new shoots.
The acacia that grows to the left of the Musée d’Orléans is much younger… it was indeed planted in 1741!
The Galerie de Minéralogie et Géologie and the greenhouses frame the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution.
Renovated and re-arranged in the recent years, they exhibit exceptional collections of plants; tropical plants in the Winter Garden and mountain plants in the Alpine Garden.
More than 1500 classified medicinal and garden plants are cultivated in the Jardin des Plantes and the School.
However, you’ll also find them in the formal gardens.
The Grand Amphitheatre stands between the Cabinet d’Histoire and the Ménagerie.
This zoo was founded during the Revolution, in 1793!
The Mecca of Natural Sciences
The 3rd oldest tree of Paris is the Corsican pine Turgot grew from a seed in 1774.
This tree still shades the alley that leads to the Cabinet d’ Histoire.
The History department was founded in 2007 on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Magny.
The elegant mansion has been part of the Jardin des Plantes since 1787.
It faces the 4th oldest tree, a Cedar of Lebanon the botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu planted in 1734!
Jussieu was appointed Director of the National Museum of Natural History after the publication of his famous system of natural classification of plants.
The mansion faces a hillock crowned by a kiosk and a maze designed by Buffon.
A column located along the path that leads to the kiosk marks the grave of Louis D’Aubenton.
The naturalist was appointed Professor of Mineralogy at the Museum of Natural History in 1793.
The National Museum of Natural History and Jardin des Plantes pay a lasting tribute to all the scientists involved in their foundation and management.
You’ll indeed find their portaits affixed to the external walls of the museums; their statues and busts are also scattered along paths and lawns.
Finally, the Jardin des Plantes offers a wide range of facilities: restaurants, indoors playgrounds and outdoors picnic areas and benches.
It’s therefore very popular with the Parisians; many jog there, parents take their children to the zoo or to one of the many exhibitions*.
Directions: 5th District – No.5 Rue Linné or Place Valhubert
Metro: Jussieu, Gare d’Austerlitz on Lines 5, 10
Coordinates: Lat 48.843962 – Long 2.359600