Transcript for Episode 392: The Jardin des Plantes in Paris

Categories: Family Travel, Paris

Discussed in this Episode

  • Grande Galerie de l'Evolution = Gallery of Evolution
  • Galerie de Mineralogie et Geologie = Mineralogy and Geology Gallery
  • Galerie de Paleontologie et d'Anatomie Comparée = Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery
  • Serres du Jardin des Plantes = Greenhouses

[00:00:00] Intro

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 392. Trois cent quatre-vingt douze.

[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.

[00:00:38] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

[00:00:47] Annie Sargent: It is one of the best places in Paris to hang out with kids, a major institution that combines many things. You could easily spend two days exploring the Jardin des Plantes, but I suspect most of you will not have, you know, time to do that, so you have to make some choices between the Gallery of Evolution, the Mineralogy area, the Palaeontology area, the greenhouses, the zoo, listen to this episode, so you can decide where you want to spend your time, because there is a lot to do and see.

[00:01:21] Annie Sargent: And it’s, really, I’ve seen similar things in other cities in Paris. They hit it out of the park.

[00:01:29] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my itinerary consult services and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app.

[00:01:42] And you can browse all of that at Annie’s boutique,

[00:01:56] About the Jardin des Plantes in Paris

[00:01:56] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse!

[00:01:58] Elyse Rivin: Bonjour Annie!

[00:02:00] Annie Sargent: Today we’re going to talk about Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

[00:02:04] Where is Le Jardin des Plantes?

[00:02:04] Annie Sargent: It is a beautiful, fairly large space as you will explain. You can enter it either from the city side, it’s not too far from Mouffetard and around there you have La Grande Mosqué de Paris, you have the Les Arènes de Lutèce are also there in that it’s all in the Latin Quarter. Or you can enter it from the river side, if you come on the Batobus for instance or if there’s many normal buses that take you there as well, you will enter on the side of the river. But it’s a big area, isn’t it Elyse?

[00:02:45] How big is it?

[00:02:45] Elyse Rivin: It’s a very big area, it’s 24 hectare and for those people who have still not figured out metric, that makes it about 65 acres.

[00:02:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s a

[00:02:55] Elyse Rivin: It’s very big

[00:02:56] Annie Sargent: And I think if you are not aware of what’s there, you might miss a lot of it. So, I wanted to do this episode because it’s one of my favourite parts of Paris, really. If you take my VoiceMap tour of the Latin Quarter, you’ll hear me talk about how much I think you need to go into those places because they are really remarkable.

[00:03:20] What can you do?

[00:03:20] Elyse Rivin: But the reason why it’s so pleasant is because there is a lot of different things to do and just in the Jardin des Plantes you could spend two days if you wanted to see everything. Okay? Now I understand that most of you do not have time to see everything, but you could easily spend a half a day. Easily, easily a half a day.

[00:03:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and if you’re going with kids, for me it’s the top attraction in Paris, because there are so many fun things for little kids to do and all the way to teenager, really, it’s not just for three-year-olds. So, let’s talk about some of the different sections that you can visit in the Jardin des Plantes.

[00:04:02] There’s more to the name

[00:04:02] Also, just because I think that even for knowing that I speak French and understand French, I find it misleading, so maybe people should really understand that the name Jardin des Plantes which translates into English as Botanical Garden, it’s not just a garden. There’s the Museum of Natural History which is huge and very important, which is a major part of it, and many buildings. There’s an amphitheater and other buildings, so when we talk about The Jardin des Plantes we’re talking about a complex of things.

[00:04:31] What can you visit?

[00:04:31] So let’s get into the different things you can visit.

[00:04:34] What you see first

[00:04:34] Annie Sargent: Let’s imagine that you’re entering the Jardin des Plantes on the city side. So you’ve arrived from the Arenes de Lutece or rue Monge or something. Okay?

[00:04:45] Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

[00:04:45] Annie Sargent: What you get to first, is Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, which in English is called Gallery of Evolution. That is a stunning building. It’s an Art deco?

[00:04:58] Elyse Rivin: It’s Art deco and it was part of the inspiration for doing work in metallic structure. So it was redone, because it was originally, I’ll talk a little bit about the history, but the structure that exists there now is a renovation of something that was innovative at the time, to make something that huge using just a metallic structure.

[00:05:19] Annie Sargent: Right. And it’s really stunning, the lighting in there is gorgeous. I mean it’s like an old style museum, except very modern. So you have this kind of beautiful, aged kind of feeling to it, but all the displays, all the museography, I think you call it, is very modern.

[00:05:43] It’s been redone recently. But also because it was designed to create this massive space to give you that sense of evolution, I think that’s what’s so fascinating about it, you know, that you have these skeletons and these animals and you feel like you’re going through history when you go into that.

[00:06:01] Annie Sargent: Yes, you do. And it’s going to show you how species evolved. It’s going to show you different varieties of the same bird, and how this variety is well adapted to this environment and a slightly different variety with plumage or different beak is more adapted to another environment, but really, it’s the same bird just that adapted to the environment. It’s fascinating.

[00:06:28] How does the ticketing work?

[00:06:28] Annie Sargent: One of the things that’s a little bit different about the ticketing at the Jardin des Plantes is that you have to select which venue you want to see, and you pay more depending on how many buildings you want to go into. I think you should really decide that ahead of time.

[00:06:47] Annie Sargent: In the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution for instance, you also have a smaller section that’s made for younger kids. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a sort of museum where the kids get to touch things and play with things and whatever. So, it’s for younger kids, and that’s a separate fee but it’s of no interest to most visitors who are not five. But if you are there with a five-year-old, it’s really good, You have to decide ahead of time, so you should really listen to this episode to decide what you want to go into.

[00:07:18] Annie Sargent: But Grande Galerie de l’Evolution is just beautiful, beautiful. It’s a beautiful place for pictures and it’s also very informative and very well done.

[00:07:28] Galerie de Mineralogie et Geologie

[00:07:28] Annie Sargent: So, as you progress towards the center of the Jardin des Plantes next, you get to Galerie de Mineralogie et Geologie, so Mineralogy and Geology Gallery. And that is a place where they show a lot of rocks, where they talk about

[00:07:50] Elyse Rivin: Formation of the planet. It really goes into the explanations about the different kinds of mineral formations, and they’re very good at explaining, because it was set up to be very educational in a sense. So they really want to show you all of these different elements and so you can get an idea of what we’re standing on, basically.

[00:08:12] Annie Sargent: Right, the rock we live on.

[00:08:14] Elyse Rivin: The rock we live on, you know.That one is not as stunning visually, but they do have amazing rocks, really gorgeous rocks. And so, I know a lot of teenagers, I don’t know if this is a French kid thing, but a lot of French boys collect rocks. Oh, yeah.

[00:08:33] I’m not sure if that’s French or not but I know that, it is true that there are lots of kits for collecting pieces of rock and analyzing them and things like that. It’s very interesting.

[00:08:43] Annie Sargent: So if you have a child, boy or girl obviously, who likes this sort of thing, this one is a must do.

[00:08:51] Galerie de Paleontologie et d’Anatomie Comparee

[00:08:51] Annie Sargent: And then, as you get closer to the river, you get to the Galerie de Paleontologie et d’Anatomie Comparee which is the Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery. And that one I love, because it’s going to show you stuff like a crocodile and they’re going to show you skeletons of the tiniest crocodiles that are living now on the earth or used to live on the earth, all the way to the giant crocodiles that don’t exist anymore. And you get to see the size, how these animals adapted to their environment and got bigger or smaller, depending on where they were living exactly. And it’s really fascinating. I’m saying crocodile but it’s the same with all of the animals.

[00:09:40] Elyse Rivin: I’m just sort of curious though about what did they put in the part that’s about evolution and what they put in that part.

[00:09:46] Annie Sargent: It’s similar, except that the logic is different. In the Paleontology, they show the different sizes of bones. well, the whole skeleton, they show the whole animal. So they show you that there’selephants of different sizes, and they even go into the ancient elephants that don’t exist on earth anymore, but you can see that they were much bigger because you see this size, whereas in the Galerie de l’Evolution, they are going to pay attention to details, so it’s this one bone that got longer or got shorter. The logic is different but it’s really well done. And if you enjoy seeing the vitrines, how do you say vitrines in English?

[00:10:33] Elyse Rivin: Well it would be the window casing or case.

[00:10:36] Annie Sargent: The cases that they put this stuff in, they’re really gorgeous, and it’s very well organized. I think if you have very young kids probably that one is not really interesting to them because they’re soon going to get bored.

[00:10:48] Elyse Rivin: Or

[00:10:48] Annie Sargent: Right, unless you can catch their interest, because if you’re a paleontologist, obviously you’re going to see stuff there that is of interest to you. But if you just have a general science knowledge, maybe your kids will get bored a little bit. But it’s very nice, I enjoyed it.

[00:11:06] Serres du Jardin des Plantes

[00:11:06] Annie Sargent: The other thing that is also in this area is the Serres du Jardin des Plantes which in English they just say, greenhouses. And it’s a big building, almost in the center of it, and in there, they have different sections for different types of plant environments. Absolutely gorgeous, really interesting, there are good labels, if you love plants you are going to love that part.

[00:11:33] Elyse Rivin: There actually are several greenhouses, but that’s because they had to redo them, and part of the history of that is that before they actually had more greenhouses and less of the other kinds of galleries, and what happened is, over time with various different events and time itself, some of those greenhouses disappeared. And so they’ve redone them. For instance, did you go to see the part that’s about Nouvelle Caledonia, New Caledonia, this is a new thing.

[00:11:59] Elyse Rivin: This is new apparently, this is just in the last couple of years. They’ve made a special part that just has plants. Well, New Caledonia is Polynesia, so it’s just Polynesian plants I’d love to see it, I can’t wait to go back and see something like that.

[00:12:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah, they really do a lot of beautiful exhibits and also they have a lot of very talented people who are leading this project.

[00:12:24] Amphitheater

[00:12:24] Annie Sargent: There’s also an amphitheater, like you mentioned, this is for lectures and things like that. I haven’t ever been inside of that one, because I haven’t gone to any lectures.

[00:12:35] Menagerie

[00:12:35] Annie Sargent: And then they have a pretty big Menagerie. Now, the Menagerie, I was just reading that there are 146 different species of animals. It goes from very small to very big. It’s kind of a zoo, but not quite a zoo. It is a zoo.

[00:12:53] Annie Sargent: They have wallabies, they have kangaroos, they have pink flamingo, they have a bunch of snakes, they have mountain goats, they have Baudet du Poitou, that’s a donkey, a donkey from the Poitou, they have yaks, they have, some of these animals I don’t even know how to say the names in English which is

[00:13:15] Elyse Rivin: my

[00:13:16] Annie Sargent: going to skip.

[00:13:16] Elyse Rivin: Oryx is a kind of deer with very beautiful horns that’s from Africa.

[00:13:22] Annie Sargent: That makes me think of Oryx and Crake, the book, the novel. Yeah, they have foxes. They have a bunch of animals, they have some Chat de Pallas, p A L L A S. It’s probably a big cat.

[00:13:37] Oh they have a panda roux.

[00:13:40] Elyse Rivin: The Red Panda, which is technically not a Panda, but it’s a cute thing.

[00:13:45] Annie Sargent: Yes, and they have giant tortoises. They have bores Sanglier des Visayas So that there’s a bore.

[00:13:52] Annie Sargent: Anyway, they have a bunch of different animals and it’s worth going with kids. You know, with kids it’s worth going.

[00:14:01] Botanical Garden

[00:14:01] Elyse Rivin: Well, it’s worth going and besides, all of these things they have this enormous Botanical Garden.

[00:14:07] Annie Sargent: Right, and so you have a lot of plants as well.

[00:14:09] Special exhibits

[00:14:09] Annie Sargent: And before we move on, I have to also tell you that they constantly have rotating special exhibits. When we were there with my nephews, they had a ton of things around, they had a dinosaur bone that was visiting from, I think it was from Colorado or possibly from Idaho, and my nephews live in Utah. So, this is a skeleton that had traveled all the way from over there, and they had a lot of different exhibits around that, a lot of interactive things.

[00:14:41] Elyse Rivin: Was it outside or inside?

[00:14:42] Annie Sargent: It was inside. This was a traveling exhibit that was going through several different places. And you had to pay a special fee, special ticket for that.

[00:14:52] Checkout the website for special exhibits

[00:14:52] Annie Sargent: So, before you go to the Jardin des Plantes, it’s really worth visiting the website, It’s

[00:15:01] Annie Sargent: Okay. And I’ll put a link in the show notes, obviously. And it’s a really good website. It’s been redone recently. You can book your tickets, see the prices. Typically, and I should have checked on this but I didn’t, it used to be that kids, european kids, went in for free, and the parents had to pay. I don’t know if that’s still the case, it might’ve changed, but anyway. Usually children under a certain age it’s free. Usually.

[00:15:27] Annie Sargent: If they’re European. If they are not, outside of the EU, they don’t have to let the kids in for free. So, it’ll kind of depend on who’s manning the booth that day, and if they’ve been told to charge as much as they can or not. Obviously, they could use more funds, so probably they’ll charge you. I’m not sure.

[00:15:49] But,I’m actually surprised that each building has another fee. There’s not just one global fee.

[00:15:57] Annie Sargent: They might have one, but that’s not how it

[00:15:59] Elyse Rivin: works.

[00:16:00] Annie Sargent: So they might have a family pass that lets you in everything, but that’s not how it works because you don’t have time to see it all in a day. You’d have to have a two, three day pass to do everything. So I think you’re better off just selecting which one you want to do, and just get the tickets for that.

[00:16:19] Ticketing at the Jardin des Plantes

[00:16:19] Annie Sargent: So now let’s talk briefly about the ticketing. Well, first you should decide ahead of time based on what we said and what you see on their website, which of these areas you’re interested in.

[00:16:32] Annie Sargent: Pick one, possibly two, if you really want to spend the whole day, three, and go to the entrance of the first one you want to see, and see what they have in terms of tickets, if they can sell you a ticket that will be good for all two or three or if they have a family price or things like that.

[00:16:50] Annie Sargent: It’s one of these places where, you know,they do different prices for different things, and it changes all the time. So just go talk to them. It’s possible that your kids will get in for free, but that’s not a guarantee because that’s usually how it works for French kids and European kids. But even English kids, not European anymore, so they might have to pay. US, Canada, Australia, all of that they might decide not to charge you for the kids but they might decide to do it, so just go talk to somebody at the door, and sort that out.

[00:17:24] Annie Sargent: But I think the most important bit is for you to decide what it is you want to see, and what’s a good fit for your family. And I should also say that the special exhibits are almost always worth it. They do 4D type of things, they really bring in very good special exhibits, so I would always go to those.

[00:17:44] Annie Sargent: And there’s plenty of people in Paris that have never done anything but the special exhibits with their kids. You know, they just go to that, because they know this is a traveling exhibit and that it’s done really well.

[00:17:55] Annie Sargent: Also, there are lots of bathrooms in all the buildings. There are catering trucks in various areas, and also as soon as you exit the Jardin des Plantes, on the city side, on rue Monge, there’s plenty of food things. And by the Arenes de Lutece, you also have plenty of places to eat. That’s also important because we get hungry when we see all these animals and bones and things.

[00:18:21] Elyse Rivin: She sounds like a carnivorous person to me, really.

[00:18:26] The history of the Jardin des Plantes

[00:18:26] Annie Sargent: All right, now tell us about the history of this place because It has been there a long time.

[00:18:29] Elyse Rivin: It’s been there a long time.

[00:18:31] I just wanted to add too that, when you get done with visiting these places that are indoors, you can also enjoy a picnic, if you want, in the part that is actually the outdoor botanical gardens. There are lots and lots of places to sit, there are lots of benches. There are lots of places to meander. It’s not just that once you get done with the buildings, you have to actually leave it. You can spend an enormous amount of time on a lovely day, enjoying both the inside, and then going to the part that is the actual botanical gardens part, which is in many different sections. You can actually bring a picnic with you if you want and then eat outside in the garden. So that’s an option as well.

[00:19:09] Annie Sargent: Yeah. You don’t even have to, I mean to enjoy just the gardens you don’t have to buy a

[00:19:13] Elyse Rivin: ticket.

[00:19:14] Elyse Rivin: No, you don’t.

[00:19:14] Elyse Rivin: The gardens are free.

[00:19:16] As soon as you go into the Menagerie or any of the buildings, you have to pay. But you can just be around the garden for free.

[00:19:22] How it all started

[00:19:22] Elyse Rivin: Right, and that in fact takes us really as a segue perfectly into how this whole thing got started, because this is, believe it or not, the third oldest scientific institution in France. And the Jardin des Plantes was started in 1635. That’s a long time ago, that’s 400 basically, we’re coming up to 400 years ago.

[00:19:45] And the reason why, is because it was in fact in the 17th century at the time of exploration. So it was very interesting, because you’re talking about bringing bones from other places, bringing rocks and things from other places, it began under Louis XIII. And I was surprised, I thought it was Louis the XIV, who was his son. Because Louis XIII was kind of a very religious king, and I’m actually surprised that he had a side of him that was about enlightenment and science and stuff like that.

[00:20:14] Royal Medicinal Garden

[00:20:14] Elyse Rivin: But it was his idea, and it was one of his ministers who hired two of the king’s doctors, who were famous for their ideas about research of medicinal plants.

[00:20:28] Elyse Rivin: And they gave them this idea to create in this space that was given to them which was started out with a chateau and a stretch of land that went right up to the river, to create a Royal Medicinal Garden and that was its original title, and that was its original function.

[00:20:45] Elyse Rivin: It was called the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants, owned and run by the king, but from its inception, open to the public. Revolutionary thing to do in the early 1600s. Open to the public so that everybody could walk through it and have a very nice stroll.

[00:21:03] Elyse Rivin: And also from the very beginning, the two doctors and other people that they themselves hired, were there to give free lectures about medicinal plants about whatever it is that they were learning about, and it turns out that the main doctor was a man named Guy de La Brosse, and he was an early precursor we can say, of Darwin, because he already had these ideas about evolution, which got them into trouble with the Church.

[00:21:32] Elyse Rivin: But because the park and the gardens were actually run by and under the auspices of the King, they could keep doing what they were doing. They didn’t have the scientific proof that Darwin of course picked up when he went to the Galapagos and things like that, but these ideas were already circulating and people were starting to talk about these new modern ideas about things like how species evolve and what happens in different parts of the world.

[00:21:58] Elyse Rivin: And so apparently, it became the thing to do for the aristocracy and the bourgeois, the upper-middle-class people, even women were allowed to go and listen to these lectures and have these animated discussions about all these new ideas and new theories.

[00:22:15] I would have loved, loved to spend a week with these people, just to see how they managed to deal with all this, and especially with the women walking around with these incredible gowns that they wore in the 1600s.

[00:22:26] Decided to expand it

[00:22:26] Elyse Rivin: But what happened was that after the medicinal plants developed, they decided to enlarge it, basically, with still this idea of a place that you could take a promenade and that you could have open to anybody and everybody.

[00:22:42] Count Buffon

[00:22:42] Elyse Rivin: So, there was a man named Buffon, he was actually a count, which I didn’t know. He had this very long name, you don’t need to know his five first names, because that doesn’t make any difference, but he came next after Guy de La Brosse. He was a count, and he was given the job of being the superintendent of what came to be called the Jardin des Plantes, and he kept the job for 49 years.

[00:23:10] Elyse Rivin: He got the job at the age of 32 and kept it until his death. And he is the one that added what became the very first Museum of Natural History, The Menagerie, the concept of the Menagerie with animals, the concept of adding minerals and things like that to it.

[00:23:28] Elyse Rivin: So, we’re going from the 1600s into the 1700s. This is the height of the 18th century, the Enlightenment, and because at the same time, there were more and more colonies everywhere in the world, they were bringing back species of plants and species of animals and bringing them to this fabulous Jardin des Plantes, and everyone was discovering all these new things.

[00:23:55] Thank you for the coffee, Buffon!

[00:23:55] Elyse Rivin: And one of the things that Buffon did, this is very important to me, some of you out there will understand why in a second, he was given some coffee plants. He was given some coffee plants, and he was, even though he was not trained, he was a naturalist at heart and he did all of these experiments. And he managed to, I don’t know by grafting them or what he did, but he created a coffee plant that would grow in different climates and they took this coffee plant, they reproduced it, they sent it out to the West Indies and it became the ancestor of all the coffee plants that are now in the Caribbean.

[00:24:39] Elyse Rivin: So thank you, Buffon, thank you so much for the coffee, really! He brought back cacao beans, the plants, he brought back all these exotic plants that had never been seen before. Things from The Indies, things from all of these exotic places because of their colonization, basically of the entire world. So under Buffon, this became the scientific place to be.

[00:25:06] Scientific Discovery Rush

[00:25:06] Annie Sargent: So it’s interesting to me that at the time, there was a lot of kind of competition between England and France, as to who was going to make the discoveries the fastest. And one of the things that motivated Darwin to publish Origin of the Species, was that he knew that other scientists were on his trail, they wanted to, you wanted to publish first.


[00:25:33] Annie Sargent: We think that people become an instant success, but that’s not how it works. It’s usually, you know, scientists they build on each other’s discoveries and then there’s one who manages to crystallize it into a way that we all accepted better.

[00:25:49] Annie Sargent: But there were a lot of other people, a lot of them in France, who were giving it a try and didn’t quite get there. If they had just changed their point of view a little bit, it would have they would have been there. Anyway, it’s really fascinating to see that competition between England and France in the 1700s and 18 1800s, with a lot of discoveries.

[00:26:10] Elyse Rivin: Which reminds me of the podcast we did about vaccinations, because it was the same thing, it was a competition between England and France, and they were both developing things and just it’s a question of who finally gets there first.

[00:26:22] L’Histoire de la Naturelle

[00:26:22] Elyse Rivin: And in fact, Buffon, who made such an impression and it was really so important in developing all of this, he wrote the definitive work. I’ve seen copies of it, which has the illustrations from the time. He wrote his 36 volume History of the Natural. That is the name of it L’Histoire de la Naturelle in French, and it became the definitive work for scientists afterwards. And some of the illustrations are just absolutely incredible to look

[00:26:52] Annie Sargent: at.

[00:26:53] Elyse Rivin: 36 volumes. But this was a life’s work. I mean, this was his passion. He was fortunate, first of all he was an aristocrat, but he managed to spend his life doing what he absolutely was passionate about.

[00:27:05] The Gloriette

[00:27:05] Elyse Rivin: Now, he was the one responsible for the building of the Amphitheater, and he’s the one that put in the first greenhouses in the 1780s. And it was the very first time that they were using metallic structures to build things.

[00:27:19] Elyse Rivin: He also built something that, I don’t know if you seen it when you were there more recently, there’s a kiosk called The Gloriette. It was closed for a few years. It was just reopened apparently three years ago. He had this kiosk built on the one slight little, we can’t even call it a hill, the one slight little, I don’t know what the right word would be, was it kind of like a mound that goes up in the middle of the Jardin des Plantes.

[00:27:45] Elyse Rivin: And he had this built entirely out of metallic, it looks like the same thing that Eiffel used for the tower, but it was done earlier. It was done much earlier. It was done at the end of the 1780s, and he specifically had it built so that people could sit around and discuss ideas. I just love the the fact that this was what he built it for.

[00:28:05] Elyse Rivin: And it was eventually redone in the recent past. Because it was closed down in a good part of the 20th century because the structure had cracks in it and things like that. But he anticipated all of the metallic and glass structures that were going to come about in the 19th century. So he must have been a fascinating person.

[00:28:22] Elyse Rivin: He really must’ve been a very, very interesting person.

[00:28:25] Bufon planted lots of trees

[00:28:25] There are a lot of trees that were planted under Bufon that are still there, and they’re ginormous.

[00:28:31] I mean, there’s some that are fairly easy to see, but it’s hard to explain where they are on a podcast, but they are very close to one of the entrances.

[00:28:40] So it’s just a fascinating place where you could just go and walk around and enjoy a beautiful day in there and just have a grand time.

[00:28:50] Restored after the revolution

[00:28:50] Elyse Rivin: At the time of the revolution, this is interesting because considering that it was done by the aristocracy, and you would have thought maybe like with many other things that were destroyed during the revolution, they would say, no, we don’t want this anymore.

[00:29:03] Elyse Rivin: But in fact, it was exactly the opposite. In 1793, the Convention, which is of course, the group of revolutionaries who are at the moment running things, they created, they made the official title of Museum of Natural History. It was the second oldest. It is the second oldest in Europe and perhaps in the world, the first being actually in Austria, which I did not know.

[00:29:27] Elyse Rivin: And then one year later, they opened the Menagerie in 1794, and what they did was, they took animals from Versailles, and they took animals from other Chateau, because all of these aristocrats, who had a lot of money had gathered exotic animals, you know, the Duke D’Orleans, Chantille, Versailles, all these places.

[00:29:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah, they gave each other gifts of animals.

[00:29:51] Yes, and if they could, they would bring something exotic, you know, in. Now what happened later on, it’s both interesting and a little bit tragic, is that this of course takes us into the 19th century. And it was very popular at the beginning of the 1800s in the 19th century, and then at the time of the war with Prussia in 1870-1871, because so much of the city was starving, they actually killed and ate some of the animals that were in the menagerie, and then it got closed down for a number of years and it was reopened again when peace came, after 1877. And then they rebuilt everything.

[00:30:31] Elyse Rivin: And that was the beginning of the new greenhouses, that was the beginning of the structures that we see today, including the ones that were finally built in the early 1930s, which are of course in art deco.

[00:30:43] Elyse Rivin: And what I didn’t know was that a lot of that has actually been redone in the last 15, 20 years, because of course with time, a lot of those things got a little bit shaky, but what they simply did was instead of, luckily, they didn’t take them down, they simply reinforced them. And that is why now everything is really very good shape, because everything was redone in the recent past.

[00:31:08] Elyse Rivin: And I just wanted to read this off because I felt there’s this fascinating. As you mentioned, the gardens are free, they were free from the beginning, that’s never changed.

[00:31:16] The greenhouses and gardens

[00:31:16] Elyse Rivin: Besides all of the greenhouses, there are several different gardens that are sections of it. So you have the Alpine garden, you have a garden of irises and perennial plants. You have a garden of roses and rocks. You have a garden of,okay, Annie, pivoines, what is pivoines, in English? Peonies. Thank you, peonies.

[00:31:42] Ecological garden

[00:31:42] Elyse Rivin: And the newest and the most recent that was just finished in 2018, 2018 is an ecological garden.

[00:31:52] Annie Sargent: What does that mean?

[00:31:53] It means that it’s a garden that is, and it’s only by reservation you can go and visit it. It’s a garden that shows how to use a mixture of different plants to not deplete the soil for people who want to do for instance, organic farming and things like that.

[00:32:10] Elyse Rivin: They keep doing all of these wonderful experiments and they have lectures on Botanics all the time. And the only part that is closed is the Alpine garden, which is closed annually for three months, from the middle of November to the middle of February. I guess, they take the plants up to the mountains and put them in the snow again, I’m not even sure why would they close them for three months in the winter, but they do.

[00:32:32] Botanical Garden is free

[00:32:32] Elyse Rivin: But otherwise, all of these parts of the botanical garden are free and they’re open every day and they’re open all day long.

[00:32:40] Annie Sargent: Excellent. Yeah, I think it’s a fabulous idea to take your family and, or your friends that you’re visiting Paris with, and go spend some time at the Jardin des Plantes.

[00:32:52] Elyse Rivin: Le Jardin des Plantes. And it’s a lovely place to sort of sit and meditate.

[00:32:57] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there’s a lot of benches and it’s just a easy going kind of visit, you know, which doesn’t require.

[00:33:06] Annie Sargent: I mean, if you’re going to pay to go into the buildings, then you should plan which ones are going to be most interesting to you. But if you just want to hang, you know, it’s perfectly fine place to go

[00:33:17] Elyse Rivin: ahead It Is a perfectly fine, I think that was what we did the last time, we went to the garden part, we went into a couple of greenhouses and, I think at some point I have this memory of sitting and just looking at the roses.

[00:33:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and honestly, I think Parisians mostly go to enjoy the garden. A lot of them don’t ever pay to go into anything, because they just like the proximity to the garden and the fact that they can go with their kids. I don’t remember, there’s playgrounds and things like that? Maybe, maybe not.

[00:33:46] School children visit the museums

[00:33:46] Elyse Rivin: I don’t think so, but what I was just wondering, I could wonder aloud is, I’m assuming that schools in the city take the children to the museum parts. So it’s a little bit like growing up in New York, everybody goes to the Museum of Natural History, you know, at some point.

[00:34:01] Elyse Rivin: So maybe that’s one of the reasons why it as adults, most people just take advantage of the part that’s the gardens.

[00:34:08] How long do the tours take?

[00:34:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and if you’re going to take my Latin Quarter tour, people often ask me about my VoiceMap tours, how long exactly it will take. The thing is there’s a big difference between calculating how long it takes to walk it, you know. So just walking, it will take you probably 70 minutes, you know, if you don’t stop. But if you stop everywhere, it’s going to take much longer.

[00:34:33] Don’t rush through the VoiceMap tours

[00:34:33] Annie Sargent: And as a matter of fact, these tours are best done without being in a hurry. When you see something interesting, stop. Turn off the tour, go into it, because it’s fascinating. Because that’s why I brought you here, is to show you something very cool, not to complete the tour and then move on to some other thing.

[00:34:53] Annie Sargent: So this is a natural tendency of especially north American visitors, that you have to fight. Like do not over-schedule your days. Even when I do itinerary review with people, I always tell them, I list a lot of things, not so that you do them all, but so that you have choices, so that you understand what’s right around you.

[00:35:16] Annie Sargent: Not that I think you should run, do this, do this, do this, do this. You know, I mean, there are literally people who listen to us Elyse, and I think we have to educate them better. They will virtually like, have something planned, they’ll do one of my walking tours first thing in the morning, and then at 11, they have a cooking class and then at four they have a visit of the Orsay museum and then at 10 they want to do something else.

[00:35:41] Elyse Rivin: Well, it exhausts you and I that’s for sure.

[00:35:44] Annie Sargent: Even when I was younger and I had more energy, this is not the way to visit a place.

[00:35:50] Elyse Rivin: No, it certainly is not. And let me say something again, to agree with you about the audio tours, since I have one of Toulouse and just recently,someone that I actually met and then took around on a tour afterwards, she contacted me and she said the nicest thing she said, “not only have I taken my time listening to it, but I have gone back.”

[00:36:12] Elyse Rivin: Because this is what you can do when you have the audio tour. You don’t have to do everything all at once, you can go back to a place that you particularly like, you can sit and relisten to the audio tour. You can just take advantage of the fact that you have it and you don’t have to calculate every minute of the time.

[00:36:32] This is the greatest advantage of being able to do it on your own. You can pace yourself, and that is the great advantage of the audio tour.

[00:36:41] Annie Sargent: Definitely. Yesterday, I was recording an episode with someone who told me that he’s listened to my tours, he’s bought them and listen to them at home in Canada, and he can’t wait to go walk them for real. And you can also do that, you can listen to them at home. Once you own it, you have it, it’s yours.

[00:36:58] Annie Sargent: You can do whatever you want with it.

[00:37:00] Annie Sargent: Anyway, I hope you all take the time to go visit the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and just chill there for a bit. You will, you will like it.

[00:37:12] Elyse Rivin: A lot.

[00:37:13] Annie Sargent: Thank you,

[00:37:13] Elyse Rivin: Elise Thank you, Annie.

[00:37:15] Annie Sargent: Au revoir.

[00:37:16] Elyse Rivin: Au revoir.

[00:37:17] Thank you Patrons and Donors!

[00:37:17] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so. You can see them at That’s P A T R E O N, joinus, no spaces or dashes. Thank you all for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for a long time, you are wonderful.

[00:37:57] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons, Sarah Burnett, Elaine Auslander, Camille Jackson and Jay Hardcastle. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.

[00:38:12] Annie Sargent: Patrons, I’m going to be exploring several wonderful towns in the Southwest of France in the next 10 days, so get ready for some videos and restaurant recommendations.

[00:38:23] Annie Sargent: I’ll probably post some photos on the Facebook group as well.

[00:38:27] My thanks also to Matthew McDonalds and Michael Cosgrove for sending in a one-time donation by using the green button on any page on Join Us in France that says, Tip your guide. Matthew wrote, “Annie, I wouldn’t have enjoyed my trip nearly as much if I hadn’t listened to your podcasts on train travel, the cost of groceries, tipping, Dijon and ancient Roman buildings. Merci Beaucoup!”

[00:38:55] Annie Sargent: Well, thank you Michael, for sending in a donation, that’s much appreciated.

[00:39:01] Annie Sargent: If you’re preparing for a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening to the podcast because that’s a very nice way to do it.

[00:39:12] Annie Sargent: Search the website though, so you can see all of the places that we’ve talked about, as well as all the episodes where that particular place has come up.

[00:39:22] Hire Annie to be your itinerary consultant

[00:39:22] Annie Sargent: You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. I’ve made some changes to make the service even better. Here’s how it works now, you purchase the service on, then you fill out a document to tell me what you have in mind. We make a phone appointment and chat for about an hour, and then I send you the document with the plan that we discussed. I’ve done this with a few customers already and I think it’s a better process, because once I’ve read what you sent me and I’ve talked to you for an hour, I have a pretty good idea of who you are, what you want and where I should concentrate.

[00:40:04] Annie Sargent: Remember that my time is always booked up several weeks in advance. You’ll see the date of my next appointment availability on the page where you can buy the service. That’s the Just pay attention to the date.

[00:40:19] Annie Sargent: And if you cannot talk to me because I’m all booked up and you’re going soon, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tours on the VoiceMap app. I produced five tours of Paris and they are designed to show you different areas, different iconic neighborhoods of Paris.

[00:40:38] Annie Sargent: I know that using an app on your phone to show you Paris is not something that most people think about right away, because it’s not been possible for very long, right? But it’s really cost-effective. The technology works so well. It gives you total freedom and you see so much more than just bumbling around on your own, or even dare I say it, with a live guide who has to corral 20 or 30 people around Paris and make sure they don’t get run over, and what have you.

[00:41:06] Annie Sargent: So what you get, is me telling you about Paris in your ear. And the VoiceMap technology makes it really easy to find your way around the best Paris has to offer. Take a look at these tours,

[00:41:22] I’ll be emailing you about the French immersion week, which I’m also calling the Join Us in France Reunion, because so many people have said they were dying to meet us during the pandemic and all that, you know. It will take place in Toulouse starting Sunday, May 21st, 2023.

[00:41:41] Annie Sargent: I have all the info I need, I just need to write it up and send you the email. It’s coming. It’s coming, I promise.

[00:41:51] Annie Sargent: If you enjoyed this episode, you might also want to listen to episode 308, where we chat about the Jardin des Plantes and other Latin Quarter highlights,

[00:41:59] Annie Sargent: because of course the Jardin des Plantes is in the Latin Quarters.

[00:42:05] Annie Sargent: This weekend, French news, I’m going to keep this really brief. There’s been a lot of talk this week about a bundled soccer final that happened in Paris. It’s very clear that there’s a lot of work to do, to prepare for the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics coming up in Paris.

[00:42:19] Annie Sargent: Thankfully, nobody died, nobody was seriously hurt, but the experience was very unpleasant for the English and Spanish fans who made the trip to Paris. Obviously, I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they’re going to have to change things, to meet up the challenge.

[00:42:35] Like I mentioned a minute ago, I’m taking 10 days off starting today, and I’m so looking forward to taking it easy a little bit and hanging out with my friends who are visiting from California.

[00:42:46] Annie Sargent: I plan to explore a lot of towns and villages in the Southwest, so I’ll be doing the fun side of my job and I will not complain, even though I’m tempted to complain because I won’t get to do it in my new electric car, because it’s not getting delivered on time for that. Uh, well, we’ll probably live.

[00:43:08] Annie Sargent: Anyway, I hope you get to take a vacation soon also.

[00:43:13] Annie Sargent: Show notes and a full transcript for this episode are on, the numeral. Transcripts are great, you can search the website and find all the things that we’ve talked about and, uh, you’ll even see timestamps of when it came up in the conversation.

[00:43:33] Annie Sargent: I mean, come on, how easy is that?

[00:43:36] Annie Sargent: And if your friends are visiting France soon, help them plan their visit and tell them about the podcasts. You do that by going to and on the right side, there are share buttons. Just click on one, tag them if it’s Facebook. I’m not sure how you do it with other, uh, you know, you can’t tag them on Twitter or, well, no, you can tag people on Twitter.

[00:43:59] Annie Sargent: You can @mention people on Twitter, but not on Pinterest.

[00:44:03] Annie Sargent: Anyway, you can send them to the website directly, and it’s a very good way to give them help to prepare their trip to France. Next week on the podcast, an episode about life on the Canal du Midi, with a friend of ours who invited us on his barge to tell us what it’s like living and traveling on a barge on the canal. It was a wonderful conversation, I think you will enjoy it.

[00:44:29] Annie Sargent: You know, this sort of slow travel is fantastic for those of us who have the patience for it, I guess. And they even make barges that run on electric motors, which means they pollute less. So that’s quite great, I think.

[00:44:45] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to

[00:44:49] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join me next time, which will be next Sunday, so we can look around France together.

[00:44:57] Annie Sargent: Au revoir!

[00:44:58] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France travel podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2022, by Addicted to France.

[00:45:09] Annie Sargent: It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No derivatives license.

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Categories: Family Travel, Paris