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Paris’s Royal Botanical Gardens – or the ‘Jardins des Plantes’ – are really quite special. Inaugurated by Louis XIII’s official doctor as the royal medicinal plant gardens in 1626, they were opened to the public in 1640 and in the four centuries since have draw in millions of Parisians, who still come here in droves to relax in their time off. You can see the appeal: with its labyrinthine maze, the winding paths in its alpine garden and 10,000 species of plants that permanently live here, the Jardin des Plantes, which is sandwiched between two avenues of trees that run parallel to the Rue Buffon, really feels like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
The gardens aren’t the only thing worth seeing around here, of course – there’s also the Ménagerie (a small zoo and farm) and the terrific Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, which forms part of the larger Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle. In fact, this southeastern corner of the Left Bank is also packed with many other impressive historic sites, as well as a plethora of impressive bars and restaurants. See below for our pick of the very best.
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