A Day in the Gardens
If it’s a fine morning get an early start and enjoy a stroll in the
Jardin des Plantes
before the city gets truly busy. The
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
doesn’t open until 10am, but the garden is close enough to rue Mouffetard
to enable you to enjoy the fabulous market, which gets going by about
8am. Don’t forget to take your eyes off the stalls every now and then to
see the splendid old buildings on this medieval street. Then return to
the museum and its Evolution Gallery.
From the gardens it is a short walk to the Place de la Contrescarpe.
Enjoy this friendly square before walking down the rue Mouffetard for a
coffee at one of its many cafés. Once revived, walk down to the bottom
of the road to see the church of St-Médard on your left.
Turn left along rue Monge to the Arènes de Lutèce. A couple of minutes away is a little bistro, Le Buisson Ardent (
25 rue Jussieu01 43 54 93 02), which is ideal for lunch.
You can spend part of the afternoon at the
Institut du Monde Arabe
, exploring its beautiful Islamic artworks, before walking down to admire the Moorish architecture of the
Mosquée de Paris
. Finish the day with a mint tea at the Café de la Mosquée (
pl du Puits-de-l’Ermité01 43 31 18 14).
Jardin des Plantes Sights
One of the trees in the Botanical Gardens is a Ginkgo biloba,
which is 150 years old but the species is known to have existed in
exactly the same form in the days of the dinosaurs, 125 million years
Cedar of Lebanon
magnificent tree was planted in 1734, and came from London’s Botanic
Gardens in Kew, although a story grew up that its seed was brought here
all the way from Syria in the hat of a scientist.
Although only a fairly recent addition, being planted in 1990, the beautiful roseraie has some 170 species of roses and 180 rose bushes on display. Spectacular when they are in full bloom in spring and summer.
of the stars of the Botanical Gardens, with more than 3,000 plants from
the world’s many diverse Alpine regions. There are samples from Corsica
to the Caucasus, Morocco and the Himalayas.
Sophora of Japan
to Paris under the label “unknown seeds from China” by a Jesuit
naturalist living in the Orient, this tree was planted in 1747, first
flowered in 1777, and still flowers today.
An unusual feature is this designated garden which brings together more than 400 different varieties of iris.
the Palaeontology Gallery, which is crammed with precious dinosaur
skeletons, is a huge dinosaur model of a stegosaurus .
crocodile in the Reptile House now has a better home than he once did.
This creature was found in a Paris hotel room, left behind as an
unwanted pet! It has yet to reach its full size of 5 m (16.5 ft).
Otherwise known as Les Grandes Serres,
these 19th-century greenhouses were at one time the largest in the
world. Today, they house a prickly Mexican cacti garden and a tropical
winter garden kept at a constant 22°C (74°F) and 80 per cent humidity.
Young Animal House
of the zoo’s most popular features for children is this house where
young creatures, which for one reason or another cannot be looked after
by their natural parents, are raised. Once they reach adulthood they are
returned to their natural habitat.
Places to Eat
The kind of place locals like to keep secret, because it’s good, inexpensive and has a great atmosphere.
Léna et Mimile
in the know avoid the touristy restaurants around rue Mouffetard to
savour a meal at this ambitious bistro with a peaceful terrace.
32 rue Tournefort, 75005
01 47 07 72 47
Au Petit Marguery
One for meat lovers, with plenty of steak, veal and game on the menu. Boisterous atmosphere.
Le Buisson Ardent
This creative bistro is a romantic nighttime destination.
25 rue Jussieu, 75005
01 43 54 93 02
Closed Sun, Sat L
17th-century building, a wood fire and welcoming staff all make for a
great little bistro. Naturally, the menu features truffles.
4 rue Blainville, 75005
01 46 33 29 82
Closed Sun, Mon
An Art Deco brasserie serving delicious classics such as pan-fried foie-gras with apples, and Provençal-style scallops.
Not the best place for vegetarians, with pot au feu, tongue and other meaty delights, but there is also fish.
Au Coco de Mer
Spicy Seychelles cuisine, plus a “beach hut” terrace with soft sand. Vegetarians should book ahead.
34 blvd St-Marcel, 75005
01 47 07 06 64
Closed Sun, Mon L, Aug
Small and noisy with tables crammed together. Try the pork pot au feu or apple flan, if available, though the menu changes daily.
26 rue Bobillot, 75013
Metro Place d’Italie
01 53 80 24 00
A lively atmosphere with waiters running around serving huge portions of Basque cuisine. Arrive early to get a table.
Unless otherwise stated, all restaurants accept credit cards and serve vegetarian meals