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Beyond Botany in Paris’ Jardin des Plantes

The Jardin des Plantes is a botanical garden located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine river. The grounds cover 28 hectares and include eleven different types of gardens, several greenhouses, a maze, a zoo, a botanical school, and four museums (Gallery of Evolution, Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology, Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy, Gallery of Botany).

The gardens with the Gallery of Evolution in the background.

In 1626, Louis XIII’s physician, Guy de la Brosse, obtained royal permission to create a botanical garden that would contain medicinal plants. He was inspired by the Montpellier botanical garden, located in Languedoc-Roussillon, France, that had been established in 1593 (the first of its kind in France). However, Brosse received some push-back from the Faculty of Medicine in Paris over the development of the garden because he wanted to use it to teach chemistry and botany, which they did not appreciate. A compromise was worked out, and in 1635 the Jardin du Roi was created; it was officially inaugurated and opened to the public in 1640.

Some of the different gardens you can find at the site include the Garden of Useful Plants, the Alpine Garden, the Botanical School Garden, the Ecological Garden, the Rose and Rock Garden, and the Iris and Perennials Garden.

I was more attracted by the bright floral displays but, if I were to go back, I think the Garden of Useful Plants would be interesting to check out with more focused attention. The official website of the Jardin des Plantes says that the Garden of Useful Plants contains medicinal plants, textile plants (such as linen), “tinctorial” plants which were used to extract pigments that were then used to make coloured dye for clothing, field crops, vegetable crops, and plants used in the cosmetic and perfume industry.

We didn’t stop at the zoo during our visit, but it did seem to be a popular place for families with young children. Interestingly, the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1795 with animals that had formerly been part of the royal menagerie at Versailles.

The gardens make for a beautiful and lively stroll. There is also a branch of the Sorbonne University, the Pierre and Marie Curie Campus, located nearby.

For now, I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures I took while we were exploring the gardens.

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