Paris - Around Town : Jardin des Plantes Quarter (part 2) - Jardin des Plantes Sights, Places to Eat

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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 Jussieu
01 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’Ermité
01 43 31 18 14).

Jardin des Plantes Sights

  1. Dinosaur Tree

    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 ago.

  2. Cedar of Lebanon

    This 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.

  3. Rose Garden

    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.

  4. Alpine Gardens

    One 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.

  5. Sophora of Japan

    Sent 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.

  6. Iris Garden

    An unusual feature is this designated garden which brings together more than 400 different varieties of iris.

  7. Dinosaur Model

    Outside the Palaeontology Gallery, which is crammed with precious dinosaur skeletons, is a huge dinosaur model of a stegosaurus .

    Dinosaur model
  8. Nile Crocodile

    The 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).

  9. Greenhouses

    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.

  10. Young Animal House

    One 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.


For more information see Jardin des Plantes.

Places to Eat

  1. Le Terroir

    The kind of place locals like to keep secret, because it’s good, inexpensive and has a great atmosphere.

    • 11 blvd Arago, 75013

    • Metro Gobelins

    • 01 47 07 36 99

    • Closed Sat–Sun, Easter, Aug

  2. Léna et Mimile

    Those 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

  3. Au Petit Marguery

    One for meat lovers, with plenty of steak, veal and game on the menu. Boisterous atmosphere.

    • 9 blvd de Port-Royal, 75013

    • 01 43 31 58 59

    • Closed Sun pm

    • No vegetarian options

  4. Le Buisson Ardent

    This creative bistro is a romantic nighttime destination.

    • 25 rue Jussieu, 75005

    • 01 43 54 93 02

    • Closed Sun, Sat L

  5. La Truffière

    A 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

  6. Restaurant Marty

    An Art Deco brasserie serving delicious classics such as pan-fried foie-gras with apples, and Provençal-style scallops.

    • 20 ave des Gobelins, 75005

    • Metro Gobelins

    • 01 43 31 59 51

  7. Chez Paul

    Not the best place for vegetarians, with pot au feu, tongue and other meaty delights, but there is also fish.

    • 22 rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles, 75013

    • Metro Place d’Italie

    • 01 45 89 22 11

  8. 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

  9. L’Avant-Goût

    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

    • Closed Sun–Mon

  10. Chez Gladine

    A lively atmosphere with waiters running around serving huge portions of Basque cuisine. Arrive early to get a table.

    • 30 rue des Cinq Diamants, 75013

    • 01 45 80 70 10

    • Open daily

Unless otherwise stated, all restaurants accept credit cards and serve vegetarian meals

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