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Jardin des Plantes :: Paris, France

April 2, 2012 by  
Category: Attractions

Situated on the left bank of the River Seine, the Jardin des Plantes is Paris’s primary botanical garden and renowned for its centuries-old beauty. A popular tourist attraction, the garden is also a favorite venue for Parisians. Located on sixty-nine acres, the Jardin des Plantes features many internationally famous gardens, greenhouses, and exhibits.

With Louis XIII’s approval, the Jardin des Plantes was established in 1626; however, it remained closed to the public until 1640. This first garden was founded as a medical herbal garden by two of the king’s physicians, Jean Herouard and Guy de la Brosse. A school of botany, natural history, and pharmacy was also founded along with the garden. Today, the Jardin des Plantes still boasts a school of botany as well as a natural history museum and zoo. With so many exceptional features, the garden is one of Paris’s most illustrious parks.

Today’s Jardin des Plantes showcases various gardens; among them are a rose garden, ecology garden, iris and perennial garden, alpine garden, and kitchen garden. There are also garden sections devoted to historical trees, a winter garden, and five plots of garden perspective that provide extraordinary views of the Jardin des Plantes. The Jardin’s four greenhouses are devoted to maintaining the fragile environments of world plants; there is a greenhouse for rainforest plants, plants of New Caledonia, desert plants, and plant history. The greenhouses are remarkable for their beauty; these structures of glass and metal have recently been substantially renovated to accommodate their special botanical collections. The Jardin also continues to feature its labyrinth garden that was first installed in the eighteenth century.

The grounds of the Jardin des Plantes are revered for their incredible vistas and enchanting paths. Thousands of plants delight the senses and structures like the Art Deco gazebo add characteristic Parisian style to the garden. The alpine garden is a favorite among the French; it features plants from the Alps, Morocco, Corsica, and even the Himalayas. There are rows of ancient trees and formal flower beds that continually astound the garden’s visitors. The Jardin des Plantes also attracts many amateur and professional botanists who perform research or attend workshops, conferences, or classes. The Jardin des Plantes also features many temporary exhibits that attract visitors throughout the year.

With its gallery of plants, menagerie of animals, and innate charm, the Jardin des Plantes is a gorgeous venue that can easily fill a day with its various attractions. General entrance to the garden and botanical school are free, but some gardens, greenhouses, and exhibitions require a ticket. The Jardin des Plantes, with its many family-friendly features, is also a great place to bring children. As one of the city’s most spectacular parks, it continues to be a must-see Paris attraction.

Rick Steves' France 2012
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