If you’re looking for some fun, educational activities to do with the kids, head to the 5th arrondissement on the Left Bank to explore the Jardin des Plantes. Set in extensive and lush green grounds, it’s the capital’s biggest park. Ambling along the avenues while the kids let off steam around you is a wonderful feeling! Together, you can see 10,000 flower varieties from all over the world in the Botanical Garden. There is so much to explore, including the tropical greenhouses, the rose garden, the winter garden, the alpine garden, and more. Next, make your way to the center of the park and give the secret maze a try. Let the kids lead the way as you attempt to find the raised belvedere at the middle. Here you’ll discover a sweeping view of the entire park.
From the belvedere, turn left for more educational activities at the world’s oldest zoo. The Menagerie was established shortly after the French Revolution in 1794 by the writer and botanist Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. The zoo was first home to the animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles along with others confiscated from fairground owners. Today it is home to 1,800 animals in recreated natural habitats. With their comic antics, the monkeys and orangutans are bound to be a favorite with the kids, but you can’t miss Kaïlin and Gaya, the two panthers born in 2011. The Menagerie is also dedicated to research and preservation and is a sanctuary for several endangered species.
After spending time with the live animals in the monkey house, big cat enclosure, and vivarium, it’s time to travel back 540 million years to visit some creatures who have been long dead. The Paleontology Department at the Natural History Museum contains 650 skeletons and fossils from the Paleozoic era. And the vast Great Evolution Gallery showcases 7,000 life-size specimens of land and sea creatures that tell the story of evolution. Don’t miss the famous elephant and its caravan of animals (buffalo, giraffes, cheetahs, zebra, hyenas, and more). It’s a sight to behold!
Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris is a fun and educational way for kids (and adults!) to travel back in time and rediscover the animal kingdom and the world of plants.