LivingTravelJardin des Plantes in Paris: the complete guide

Jardin des Plantes in Paris: the complete guide

The Jardin des Plantes is possibly the most beautiful and interesting botanical garden in Paris. But it is much more than that. On its elegant centuries-old grounds, you’ll also find a zoo, a natural history museum with impressive prehistoric bones and colorful displays, open-air displays, and much more.

Located on the edge of the Latin Quarter, the Jardin des Plantes is also a gateway to a part of the city that all first-time visitors to Paris must visit at least one. It is an ideal attraction for all types of travelers, whether you are visiting the city alone, looking for a romantic and sunny walk in the capital or trying to find a place to entertain and educate children. Read on to learn how to get the most out of it.


The Jardin des Plantes was established around 1635 as a royal medicinal garden under the reign of King Louis XIII. Although it was accessible to the public from about 1640, it was only in 1793 that it became a state institution, following the French Revolution a few years earlier.

That year, the botanical gardens, the Natural History Museum, and the zoo were opened under new management.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the complex was greatly expanded thanks to the efforts of naturalists, botanists, paleontologists, and others who created new collections and areas. The Great Gallery of Evolution (Gallery Grand Evolution), Galleries of Zoology and Paleontology, greenhouses with numerous species of tropical plants, Alpine gardens and many other open sections.

Curators, scientists, and botanists have continued to modernize and expand the collections at the Jardin des Plantes in the 21st century, with the aim of keeping it relevant and attractive to visitors. New permanent exhibitions and galleries continue to open, while others have reopened after major renovations.

What to see and do

There are many ways to enjoy the Garden and its adjacent attractions. Even on a rainy or cold day, you might be able to take advantage of attractions like the botanical greenhouses or the Museum of Natural History. These are the highlights you can expect from the gardens, the grounds of which measure approximately 69 acres.

Botanical gardens and greenhouses

Botanical gardens are lush, beautifully arranged spaces that are in fact divided into numerous different themes and sections. Stroll through some of the 11 themed areas to learn about plant species while taking a leisurely stroll:

  • École de botanique (school of botany)
  • Jardin alpin (alpine garden)
  • Perspective squares (geometric center beds with beautiful views towards the Natural History Museum at the other end)
  • Jardin ecologique (ecological garden)
  • Grandes Serres (Large greenhouses: with rare tropical plants)
  • Jardin de roses et de roches (rose and rock garden)
  • Jardin des pivoines (peony garden)
  • Jardin des abeilles et des oiseaux (Garden of bees and birds)
  • Labyrinthe (Labyrinth: This one can be fun with kids)
  • Jardin des plantes Recursos (Garden of plants used as natural resources)
  • Jardin des iris et des plantes vivaces (Iris and hybrid plant garden)

In total, it can take about 8,500 species and varieties of plants, including hybrids and seasonal flowers. The “Grand” greenhouses are home to rare species from regions such as South America and Australia.

Entry to the gardens is free, with the exception of certain greenhouses and temporary exhibits. See below for ticket information.

The zoo (Ménagerie)

The gardens are also home to a small zoo, formerly owned by French monarchs and now a state park. Known as Ménagerie, the zoo can offer a fun activity for younger visitors. Children can interact and observe some 1,200 animals: species from goats and ostriches to monkeys, tree kangaroos and even leopards. La Ménagerie sees itself today primarily as a haven for endangered species, and zoologists work carefully to ensure the welfare of the animals and protect many of the fragile species that can be found on the site.

Most of the animals were born in captivity, some transferred from other zoos.

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum (Musée d’Histoire Naturelle) is one of the oldest in France and is famous for its huge “Evolution” Gallery, featuring models and bones of animals, from dinosaurs to woolly mammoths, giraffes and elephants.

While it’s a decidedly bizarre exhibit that sometimes feels like an old-fashioned cabinet of curiosities, recent efforts to modernize the exhibits and galleries make this museum a must-see for anyone interested in natural history. It is also a great place to take children.

Galleries and exhibits at the museum include the following:

  • Botany
  • Marine invertebrates
  • Terrestrial arthropods (insects, spiders, and butterflies)
  • Paleontology
  • Prehistory and Anthropology (the study of the first human civilizations and their tools)
  • Mineralogy and Geology
  • A new ‘virtual reality’ cabinet designed for children and on the subject of evolutionary history

Special exhibitions and events

The garden and natural history museum regularly host interesting temporary exhibitions, many of them outdoors. They are often a hit with both kids and adults, providing great opportunities to learn and have fun.

Check out this page for information on shows and temporary events at the Jardin des Plantes.

How to visit the garden

The Jardin des Plantes is easily accessible by metro or bus from Paris. Alternatively, it’s an easy walk from the Latin Quarter (see below). Entry to the outdoor gardens is free (excluding temporary exhibits). See this page for details on entry prices and tickets for the Natural History Museum and the Zoo / Ménagerie.

  • Address: Place Valhubert, 75005 Paris
  • Metro / RER stop: Gare d’Austerlitz
  • Tel.: +33 (0) 1 40 79 54 79 or +33 (0) 1 40 79 56 01
  • Opening Hours: The gardens are open every day from 7:30 am to 8 pm in summer and from 8 am to 5 pm in winter. They are open on most holidays, but check the official website for
  • Contact email: [email protected]
  • Visit the official website (in English)

The best time to visit

While spring (late March to early June) is by far the most popular time to visit the gardens, we recommend visiting during the fall as well. There are fewer bright flowers and exotic species to behold, but viewing the botanical displays and greenhouses during the different seasons will allow you to appreciate the ongoing cycles of natural life in the gardens, not to mention the tremendous work done by the horticulturists who care for them.

What to do nearby

As mentioned above, the Garden is located on the edge of the history-filled Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin). Before or after exploring the gardens, take a leisurely stroll through the famous streets of this legendary district.

Maybe stop for a coffee in the leafy pedestrianized Place de la Contrescarpe, explore the ancient Roman Coliseum in the Arènes de Lutece, watch an old movie in one of the cinemas near the old Sorbonne University, or board a self-guided tour. tour of literary points of interest and hideouts in the area.

Ready to explore? You can read more about what to see and do in the Latin Quarter in our comprehensive guide.

Gare de Lyon / Barrio Bercy

Crossing the River Seine to the right bank, you can also easily explore the lesser-known neighborhoods around the Gare de Lyon train station and the area known as ‘Bercy’. Far fewer tourists venture into these districts, but they are getting lost. Take a stroll along the green above-ground ring road known as the Promenade Plantée, explore some of the best open-air produce markets in Paris, and unwind in a café or wine bar concept coveted by the locals.

For more tips, read our tips on what to do at the Marché d’Aligre market and our comprehensive guide to the Gare de Lyon / Bercy neighborhood.

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