The Jardin des Plantes is one of my favourite places in Paris. It it only a few streets away from my university, and I like to go there to chill in-between classes when the weather allows it. The place is not only a garden, but also an architectural treasure, with these beautiful buildings and temple fronts inspired by Greek architecture (and mostly built the 19th century). These buildings are all museums, centred around science: botany, geology, paleontology, zoology, greenhouses... visit the Jardin des Plantes and you'll surely learn something new. There is also a zoo, called the Ménagerie, in which you can observe gorillas, frogs, panthers, cute red pandas (see photo above in the post) and crocodiles (amongst other species). What more could you ask for?
The Mineralogy gallery has recently reopened, after years of renovation. It has a nice collection of all kinds of minerals, from rough stones to polished gems and gold and giant quartz and so on. The stones are displayed in categories, with short and understandable information about how they came to be, what they are composed of, etc. If you're into gold and shiny stones, you'll love it! The gallery is not overly big so it won't take you the whole afternoon, giving you time to explore other galleries.
My favourite gallery is the Paleontology gallery. It has an incredible display of skeletons of all kinds of animals, big and small, and also human bones. The second floor is dedicated to dinosaurs and prehistoric fossils and species. It surely puts things on perspective to see all living beings that way! If you like weird science curiosities, you can also find all sorts of animal limbs and organs in jars, amongst which a two-headed baby chicken. Now that makes you want to go there immediately doesn't it? :P
If you take an afternoon to explore the Jardin des Plantes, you'll probably have some time to spend wandering around in the gardens themselves. In the spring and summer particularly, there are so many different types of flowers and plants to observe along the endless alleys. It's a place that is worth visiting several times, at different times of the year, because the plants change so quickly, they grow and blossom at such a pace that in two weeks' time, the garden can look very different and can leave you with a very different perspective than on your last visit.
So if you want to discover something different than the Paris of the Louvre, of painters and sculptors, go there and see what the Paris of science is all about! ;)
Have you ever heard of or visited the Jardin des Plantes?