Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
Jardin des Plantes. (Photo by Gryfindor)

Paris's hidden garden, the Jardin Alpin, in the Jardin des Plantes park

The 1640 Jardin des Plantes consists mainly of fenced-off gardens, a small zoo, and a natural history museum spread over several buildings (the best is the Galeries de Peléontologie et d'Anatomie Comparée in the park's NW corner, a wonderfully quirky 19th century holdover: one long, huge room filled by a frozen stampede of extinct and exotic animal skeletons; www.mnhn.fr).

But this park's secret is the Jardin Alpin, which initially looks like any old regimented Paris garden. However, halfway down the wide jardin path is a tunnel ducking under the main path to pop you out into a miniature valley largely hidden from the main part of the park by profuse bushes up at ground level.

In the microclimate of this secluded vale thrive over 2,000 species of mountain plants (from the Alps, Pyrenees, Caucasus, Rockies, Himalayas, and others) ranged lushly around a small stream that winds through the miniature wonderland past tiny waterfalls and hidden nooks with benches.

Jardin des Plantes tips

Planning your time

If you just stroll through the park, check out the Alpine Garden, it'll take maybe 20-30 minutes. Spend time in the Natural History Museum or zoo adds another 20–30 minutes each.

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Take a tour of the Natrual History Museum in the park
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An allée of trees in the Jardine des Plantes, Paris
An allée of trees in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris



The Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris
The Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy at the Paris Natural History Museum in the the Jardin des Plantes. (Photo by Mossot)