Guide Tour of Jardin des plantes, Paris, France

The Jardin des plantes de Paris is the main botanical garden in France, is a park and botanical garden open to the public. It is the seat and the main site of the National Museum of Natural History. In addition to the green spaces specific to a garden (flowerbeds, botanical spaces, trees, English garden, etc.), there is also a menagerie in the Jardin des Plantes, greenhouses, and scientific exhibition buildings acting as museums.

The Jardin des plantes is situated in the 5th arrondissement, Paris, on the left bank of the river Seine, and covers 28 hectares (280,000 m2). The Jardin des Plantes is framed, clockwise and starting from the north, by Quai Saint-Bernard along the Seine, Place Valhubert, a very short section of Boulevard de l’Hôpital, and the streets Buffon.

Respecting the principles of the “French garden” (openness of space, symmetry, harmony of forms, etc.), they compose a vast perspective that stretches over 480 meters and 2.5 hectares between the statues of Lamarck, on the Seine side. There are five of them and, between a double alley of plane trees, they lead the eye through the Jardin des Plantes: these are the perspective squares.

It is a colourful, pleasant and changing place to walk throughout the summer, thanks to the two series of annual plantations. From the end of winter, biennial plants and bulbs, planted in November of the previous year, are celebrated there. Then the plantations of May nourish a magnificent summer flowering.

Seven hundred varieties of plants will take turns to maintain the brilliance of the flowerbeds from June to October. This veritable living catalog is the result of collective work carried out with botanists, horticulturists, producers or seed breeders, promote knowledge of ornamental garden plants.

Since 24 March 1993, the entire garden and its contained buildings, archives, libraries, greenhouses, ménagerie (a zoo), works of art, and specimens’ collection are classified as a national historical landmark in France (labelled monument historique).

The grand perspective à la française extends from west to east from the Grand Galerie de l’Évolution to the Place Valhubert, a square which before 1806 was part of the Garden. Bordered to the north and south by two alleys of curtain-cut plane trees, the flowerbeds are replanted twice a year: in May to install summer bedding plants, in October to install winter and spring flowering bedding plants. The flower collections, totaling nearly 500 varieties, change every year.

The English- style landscaped sector includes, from west to east, the large labyrinth, topped by Buffon’s gazebo and housing the secular tomb of Daubenton, the small labyrinth which has become a biodiversity reserve, near the Hôtel de Magny and the large amphitheater, the Alpine garden and the Menagerie.

The grounds of the Jardin des plantes include four buildings containing exhibited specimens. The Jardin des Plantes comprises to the north an English- style landscaped sector created in the 18th century notably under the stewardship of Buffon, and to the south a large French- style perspective, while the lower half (east) was completed in the 18th century, on floodplains where firewood was previously stored.

The grande galerie de l’Évolution was inaugurated in 1889 as the galerie de Zoologie. In 1994 the gallery was renamed with its current name, grande galerie de l’Évolution, and its exhibited specimens were completely reorganised so that the visitor is oriented by the common thread of the evolution as the major subject treated by the gallery.

The galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie, a mineralogy museum, built as of 1833, inaugurated in 1837.

The galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée, a comparative anatomy museum in the ground floor and a paleontology museum in the first and second floors. The building was inaugurated in 1898.

The galerie de Botanique, inaugurated in 1935 thanks to funds provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, contains botany laboratories and the French Muséum’s National Herbarium (the biggest in the world with a collection of almost 8 million samples of plants). The building also contains a small permanent exhibition about botany.

In addition to the gardens and the galleries, there is also a small zoo, the ménagerie du Jardin des plantes, founded in 1795 by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre from animals of the ménagerie royale de Versailles, the menagerie at Versailles, which was dismantled during the French Revolution.

The Jardin des plantes maintains a botanical school, which trains botanists, constructs demonstration gardens, and exchanges seeds to maintain biotic diversity. About 4,500 plants are arranged by family on a one hectare (10,000 m2) plot. Three hectares are devoted to horticultural displays of decorative plants. An Alpine garden has 3,000 species with world-wide representation. Specialized buildings, such as a large Art Deco winter garden, and Mexican and Australian hothouses display regional plants, not native to France. The Rose Garden, created in 1990, has hundreds of species of roses and rose trees.

The ecological garden is an enclosed area where human intervention is as discreet as possible in order to leave room for natural biodiversity. Created in 1932, it was closed to the public in 1960. Totally forbidden access to humans until 1982, it was then the subject of several inventories and some improvements. Accessible only to gardeners and researchers authorized to study its biodiversity, this part of the Jardin des Plantes was not reopened to the public until 2004, during regularly organized guided tours.

This garden presents reconstructions of different natural environments in Île-de-France: seven open environments (vineyards, meadows, pond, plateau, etc.), as well as four forest environments differing in the composition of the soil, where spontaneous plant species grow almost freely. The sector is also home to a few species of exotic trees and shrubs, witnesses of the plantations that preceded the creation of the garden. This space is also a refuge or a stopover for Parisian wildlife.

Formal Garden
The garden covers an area of twenty-four hectares (59.3 acres). It is bordered by the River Seine on the east, on the west by the Rue Geofroy-Saint-Hilaire, on the south by the Rue Buffon, and on the north by Rue Cuvier, all streets named for French scientists whose studies were carried out within the garden and its museums.

The main entrance is on the east, along the Seine, at Place Valhubert, reaching to the Grand Gallery, which copies its width. It is in the style of a French formal garden and extends for five hundred meters (547 yards) between two geometrically-trimmed rows of platane trees. Its rectangula beds contain over a thousand plants. This part of the garden is bordered on the left by a row of galleries, and on the right by the School of Botany, the Alpine Garden, and greenhouses.

The iron grill gateways and fence at Place Valubuert were created in the beginning of the formal garden on the east is a statue of the botanist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the director the school of botany beginning in 1788. He is best known for devising the first coherent theory of biological evolution.

At the other end of the formal garden, facing the Grand gallery, is a statue of another major figure in the garden’s history, the naturalist Buffon, in a dressing gown, seated comfortably in an armchair atop the skin of a lion, holding a bird in his hand. Between the statue and the Gallery is the Esplanade Mine Edwards, beneath which is the Zoothéque, the massive underground storage area for the museum’s collections. It is not open to the public.

Four large serres chaudes, or greenhouses, are placed in a row to the right front of the Gallery of Evolution. facing onto the Esplanade Milne-Edwards. They replaced the earliest greenhouses, built on the same site in the early 18th century, to house the plants brought to France from tropical climates by French explorers and naturalists. The Mexican greenhouse, which houses succulents, is separated by an alley from the Australian greenhouse, which hosts plants from that country. They were built between 1834 and 1836 by the architect Rohault de Fleury. Each of the two greenhouses is 20 meters by 12 meters in size. Their iron and glass structure was revolutionary for Paris, preceding by fifteen years the similar pavilions built by Victor Baltard for the Paris markets of Les Halles.

A larger structure, the “Jardin d’hiver” (Winter Garden), covering 750 square meters, was designed by René Berger, and completed in 1937. It features an Art Deco entrance, between two illuminated glass and iron pillars built for nighttime visits. The heating system keeps the interior temperature at 22 degrees Celsius year-round, creation suitable environment for bananas, palms, giant bamboo, and other tropical plants. Its central feature, designed to create a more natural environment, is a fifteen-meter high waterfall.

Alpine Garden
The Alpine Garden was created in 1931, and is about three meters higher than the other parts of the garden. It is divided into two zones, connected by a tunnel. It contains several different microclimates, controlled by the water distribution, the orientation toward the sun, the type of soil and the distribution of the rocks. It is home to plants for Corsica, the Caucasus, North America and the Himalayas. The oldest plant is a pistachio tree, planted in about 1700. This tree was the subject of research by the botanist Sebastien Vaillant in the 18th century which confirmed the sexuality of plants. Another ancient tree found there is the metasequoia, or Dawn Redwood, a primitive conifer.

In the heart of Paris, nestled in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes, the Alpine Garden brings together more than 2,000 mountain plant species. Walk in an astonishing place, with subtle charm. The ancestor of the alpine garden was created in 1640, under the name “Garden of Mountain Plants”. Enlarged and embellished during Buffon’s tenure in the 18th century, it did not take on its present form until 1931. It was then installed on the site of the Carré des layers, previously devoted to the multiplication of plants. Extending over nearly 4,000 m2, the Alpine Garden brings together in one place collections of plants from high, medium and low altitude regions of France and the world. It is also home to some typical specimens of particular ecological environments, such as peat bogs.

Plants are presented according to their geographical origin or their ecological affinities. One of the main difficulties consists in artificially reconstituting the environmental conditions favorable to the life of the collected plants. To achieve this, the gardeners have created veritable microclimates by taking advantage of the location of the garden. Its design, in depression in the alleys of the Jardin des Plantes, forms a valley of greenery protected from the drying winds, the intense cold and the great heat.

However, some natural conditions are difficult to recreate. Thus, in winter, mountain plants require a period of rest, without rain, from which they are protected, in their original environment, by the snow cover. In order to recover these conditions, certain plants in the Alpine Garden are therefore covered with tarpaulins in the fall. It is at this price that this very guarded and fragile environment offers walkers privileged moments of flowering every year.

The Alpine Garden is not only intended to enhance visitors’ walks: this remarkable place has a rich scientific history. There is a distinguished guest there: the pistachio tree, one of the deans of the Jardin des Plantes, thanks to which Sébastien Vaillant proved the existence of plant sexuality in 1718.

The ecological garden
An enclave of preserved nature within the Jardin des Plantes, the ecological garden welcomes the fauna and flora of Île-de-France. All the ecological diversity of the Paris Basin is represented in its four forest environments and its seven open environments.

Created in 1932 on the initiative of Pierre Allorge, professor of botany at the Museum and Camille Guinet, horticultural engineer at the Jardin des Plantes, the Ecological Garden is an enclosure devoted to the presentation of natural environments in Île-de-France. In this region populated since prehistoric times, man has played a considerable role in the formation of landscapes and plant associations. The Ecological Garden presents the biodiversity of Île-de-France and very varied environments.

The rose abd rock garden
Entirely dedicated to the queen of flowers, the rose garden delicately adorns the surroundings of the Mineralogy gallery. Of romantic inspiration, it offers the visitor a walk among 390 wild species and varieties of roses, old or contemporary. The rose garden was designed and planted in 1990, with the common thread of the history of these flowers cultivated since Antiquity. The central alley, shaded by climbing roses, is bordered by flowerbeds through which the walker discovers the colors and scents of varieties.

Whether they form shrubs or rush to attack arches, whether they bloom once a year or come up (i.e. bloom again) several times during the season, the roses of the Garden of Plants exhibit their diversity and bear witness to the richness of the genus Rosa. Roses with single flowers, double flowers, fragrant or odorless, climbing, hybrid tea, English, in bouquets… The senses are charmed by this symphony of colors and fragrances, the apotheosis of which takes place in May and June.

Contrasting with the delicacy of the flowers, rocks are inserted between the shrubs. They are the external echo of the mineralogical collections kept in the adjoining building of the rose garden, and testify to the diversity of the rocks of France. A geodiversity represented by the sandstone of Fontainebleau (Ile de France), the talc of Luzenac (Pyrenees) or the gabbro of Queyras (Alps)…

Pleasure of the senses, culture of the spirit, the wanderings in the rose garden allow the walker to learn more about the many representatives of the genus Rosa offered to his gaze. The place is home to both botanical species, originally existing in nature, old roses (created before 1867) with delicate fragrances and modern roses (created after 1867) with superb blooms. Among the varieties on display: Pimpinellifolia, Cinnamoneae, Gallicanae, Caninae, gallic roses, cent-feuilles, sparkling, damask, portland, alba, rugosa, hazelnut, bourbon, hybrid tea…

School of Botany Garden
A large section alongside the formal garden, with an entrance on the Allee Bequrerel, belongs to the School of Botany, and is dedicated to plants that have medicinal or economic uses. It was originally created in the 18th century, and now has over three thousand eight hundred specimens, organised by genus and family.Regular tours my museum guides are given of this section. One of its special attractions is the “Pinus nigra” or black pine, of the variety Laricio, from Corsica, which was planted in the garden by Jussieu in the 1770s.

A school without walls and in the open air: welcome to this garden, where amateurs and professionals can revise their lessons on plant things. Four flowerbeds illustrate some of the phenomena linked to the evolution of plants: Adaptation, Diversification, Convergences, and Orientation of evolution.

The School of Botany introduces the public and students to the plant diversity of all the temperate regions of the globe (from flowering plants to ferns and mosses and from dwarf herbaceous plants to shrubs). A selection within each family, then each genus was made, in order to present the most contrasting species in their aspects (morphological diversity), as well as the maximum number of different lines (evolutionary diversity).

The tree of the evolution of terrestrial plants is presented on an “orientation table” in the center of the garden in order to highlight the link between the evolutionary history of plants, the resulting classification, and the arrangement of plants.

The Small Labyrinth
The small garden is placed directly behind the Winter Garden greenhouse. Its prominent features are a large platane tree from the Orient, planted by Buffon in 1785, and a Ginkgo biloba, a tree originating in China considered a living fossil, since traces show that these trees existed in the Second Era of living things, as defined by botanists. It was planted in 1811. At the top of the labyrinth sits one of the oldest metal constructions in the world: Buffon’s gazebo, built by Verniquet, the architect of the Grand Amphitheater of the Museum.

In the center of the garden is monument to the botanist Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. the last director of the garden named by the King before the French Revolution, and the creator of the menagerie. He is better known tin France as the author of a well-known romantic movel, “Paul et Virginie”, published in 1788.

Garden of irises and perennials
Ideal for strolling and meditation, the Garden of Irises and Perennials is often appreciated by lovers of floral painting… Compartments set with bricks and lawned paths, this Dutch-style garden, located between the galleries of Paleontology and Botany, was created in 1964. It was then made up of an old collection of irises, presented in an area of 1,500 m 2. Modified in 1984, it was added large flowerbeds of perennials, resting on a background of shrubs.

This quiet garden, located away from places of passage, gives the visitor a pleasant feeling of isolation and intimacy. A state conducive to the contemplation of the 450 species of perennial plants that are revealed during our leisurely wanderings in the paths covered with grass.

A visit that can be renewed at will, since the flowering of perennial plants is staggered through the seasons. In the bad season, most perennials disappear, without however dying: buried in the ground, their buds well sheltered, they remain alive, ready to reappear in an explosion of shapes, colors and scents in season next.

By dint of strolls, here is the center of the garden. More than 100 varieties of irises are installed there in squares lined with bricks. The genus Iris has 120 species, but all the varieties in the garden come from the selection and hybridization of European or North African irises. Their flowering, which takes place in May, is exceptional: colors that range from blue to yellow, passing through tawny shades, pinks or carmines. Sublime shades, which attract and inspire many painters…

The labyrinth mound is one of the first sites acquired for the foundation of the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants. Its dry soil favors Mediterranean vegetation: cedars, pines, maples, yews… Because the eminence that stands there is nothing natural: it was formed in the 14th century by the accumulation of rubbish and limestone rubble from the suburbs of the capital! First covered with vines, the mound was crowned by Edmé Verniquet in 1788 with a kiosk in honor of Buffon. Predating by 60 years the works of Victor Baltard, and by more than a century the achievements of Gustave Eiffel, the “Gloriette de Buffon” is one of the oldest metal buildings in the world.

Consisting of a very high quality iron frame made in the forges of Buffon himself, in Montbard, the kiosk included superstructures and decorations of bronze, copper, lead and gold. A solar gong dominated the whole. It rang every day at noon, with the blow of a hammer dropped by the breaking of a thread of horsehair burned by the sun through a magnifying glass.

Coming down from the maze, come across many remarkable trees, such as the Cretan maple (Acer sempervirens) brought back from the East by Tournefort in 1702, the chestnut leaf oak (Quercus castaneifolia), or the very toxic European yew (Taxus baccata), from which one of the most powerful anti-cancer drugs discovered in the 20th century was extracted in the 1980s. A little further still is the tomb of Daubenton, first director in 1793 of the brand new Museum. Finally, at the foot of the Labyrinth, Nocturne, the poem by Saint-John Perse, is engraved on three bronze sculptures…

The Butte Copeaux and the Grand Labyrinth
The Grand Labyrinth features a winding path to the top of the Butte Copeaux, a hill overlooking the garden. It was originally created under Louis XIII, then redone in its present form under Louis XVI, on the site of an old garbage dump. At the beginning of the upward path is a Cedar of Lebanon, planted in 1734 vy Jussieu, with a trunk four meters in circumference. The butte was largely planted with trees from the Mediterranean, including an old erable tree from Crete planted in 1702 and still in place. including from in it is topped by a picturesque 18th-century cast-iron viewing platform, the oldest work of iron architecture in Paris. The labyrinth was created under Louis XIII, then redone by the garden director Buffon for Louis XVI.

At the top is a neoclassical viewing platform called the Gloriette de Buffon. It was made of cast iron, bronze and copper in 1786-87, using metal from the foundry owned by Buffon. It is considered the oldest metallic structure in Paris. The eight iron columns carry a roof in the shape of a Chinese hat, topped by a lantern with a frieze decorated with swastikas a popular motif in the period. The top is inscribed with a tribute to Louis XVI, honouring his “justice, humanity, and munificence”, as well as a quotation from Bouffon, in Latin, translated; “I only count the hours without clouds”. It was originally equipped with a precise clock which chimed exactly at noon, but it disappeared in 1795.

Nearby is the Lion Fountain, built in 1834 into the wall of a former reservoir. It is decorated with two bronze lions made in 1863 by the noted animal sculptor Henri Jacquemart.

National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History has been called “the Louvre of the Natural Sciences.” It is contained in a five buildings laid out along the formal garden; the Gallery of Evolution; the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology; the Gallery of Botany; the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy; and the Laboratory of Entomology.

The Grand Gallery of Evolution was designed by Jules André, whose other works in Paris included, in collaboration with Henri Labrouste. the Beaux-arts Bibliotheque National. He became architect of the museum in 1867, and his works are found throughout the Jardin des Plantes. It opened during the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889, though it was not finished as intended; it still lacks a grand facade on the side of rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. The main facade, facing the two principal alleys of the formal garden, is flanked by two lantern towers. A series of medallions between the bays on the main facade overlooking the garden honors ten of the notable scientists who have worked in the Museum along with an allegorical statue of a woman holding an open book of knowledge.

While the exterior is Beaux-Arts architecture, the interior iron structure was entirely modern, contemporary with the Grand Palais and the new railroad station of the gare d’Orsay (now the Musée d’Orsay). It encloses a rectangular hall 55 meters long, 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, with the glass roof of one thousand square meters supported by rows of slender iron columns. The structure deteriorated, had to be closed in 1965, then underwent extensive restoration between 1991 and 1995. It now presents, through preserved animals and media displays, the evolution of species. It gives special attention to species that has disappeared or are endangered. The collection of preserved animals includes the rhinoceros brought to France in the 18th century by Louis XV.

In front of the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology stands one of the trees of the royal garden, a Sophora Japonica tree planted by Bernard de Jussieu in 1747. The gallery was constructed between 1833 and 1837 by Charles Rohault de Fleury in neoclassical style, with triangular frontons and pillars. The collection inside includes some six hundred thousand stones, gens, and fossils. Among the notable exhibits is the petrified trunk of bald cypress tree from the tertiary geological era, discovered in Essonne region of France in 1986.

In front of the Gallery of Botany is the oldest tree in Paris, a “Robinier Faux Acacia” brought to France from America in 1601. The gallery was built in 1930-35 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The gallery keeps the Herbier National, specimens of all known plant species, with 7.5 million plants represented. The ground floor gallery is used for temporary exhibitions.

This gallery is sited next to the Iris garden, which contains 260 varieties of Iris. The building was constructed between 1894 and 1897 by Ferdinand Dutert, a specialist in metallic architecture, whose most famous building was the Gallery of Machines at the 1889 Paris Exposition. The gallery was expanded in 1961 with a brick addition by architect Henri Delage. The interior is highly decorated with lace-like iron stairways and detail. It displays a large collection of fossilized skeletons of dinosaurs and other large vertebrates.

The Menagerie
The Menagerie is the second oldest zoological park in the world. It was created in 1793 on the initiative of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, by the transfer of animals from the royal menagerie of Versailles and private and fairground menageries in escheat. During the siege of Paris by Prussia between theSeptember 17, 1870 and the January 26, 1871, most of the animals were eaten by the besieged Parisians.

During its history, it has presented countless animal species, including the first giraffe presented in France (1827), elephants, brown and white bears, seals. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, visits by elephant or dromedary took place there for an additional fee. Many constructions, sometimes sophisticated for the time, were built for this purpose in the 19th and early 20th century. century, succeeding the enclosures and summary cages of the beginning: rotunda, pits with the bears, antics, wild animals, houses of the birds of prey and the reptiles, pheasants. The largest of these is undoubtedly the large aviary built in 1888 by Alphonse Milne-Edwards for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and still in use.

In the mid- 20th century, the Menagerie entered a period of decline, eclipsed by more modern zoological parks (Zoo de Vincennes, Parc de Thoiry), then contested by anti-zoo movements, when hardly any renovation could to be undertaken, for lack of means (it was also the time when the Zoology Gallery, renamed ” Grande Galerie de l’Évolution ” since 1994, had to close because it was raining through its glass roof). The facilities where the animals lived were often run down and cramped.

It was from the 1980s that a policy of rehabilitation of the Menagerie was put in place, with several successive renovations (birds of prey aviaries, rotunda, reptilarium, etc.), and a clear preference was given to the presentation of species of small and medium size, generally little known and/or threatened with extinction.

The largest species (elephant, giraffe, lion, tiger, gorilla, chimpanzee, bear, wolf, zebra, hippopotamus, rhinoceros), which did not live properly in the small installations that could not be enlarged in the center of Paris, gradually left the Menagerie for the Vincennes zoo between the 1970s and 2000s.

The Menagerie is home to 1,100 animals, mammals, reptiles and birds, on 5.5 hectares. She specialized in several groups of animals: in mammals, Przewalski’s horse, orangutan, several species of goats (Rocky Mountain goat, takin, bharal, Ethiopian ibex), small carnivores, rodents and monkeys; among birds, vultures and nocturnal birds of prey are well represented, as well as pheasants and some waders (spoonbills,ibis, cranes, agamis and the very rare crested kagou); many reptiles (including giant tortoises over 100 years old), batrachians and insects are raised in the reptilarium and the vivarium (built by subscription thanks to René Jeannel).

Other Buildings in the Gardens
The Maison de l’Intendance or Maison de Bouffon, located the entrance to the garden at 36 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, was the residence of the Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, the industrialist, naturalist, and director and chief creator of the gardens from 1739 to his death in 1788. It became part of the garden in 1777-79.

The Cuvier House, next to the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy, was the residence of the scientist Georges Cuvier until his death in 1832. Cuvier was one of the founders of Paleontology, and the first to identify the skeleton of a mastodon as a prehistoric animal. Its facade displays his motto in Latin “The “Transibunt et augebitur scientia” (“The Hours Pass and science progresses”). The house was also the place where, in 1896, Henri Becquerel carried out the experiment in 1893 which led to the discovery of uranium. This event is marked by plaque on the facade. (not open to public).

The Cuvier Fountain is across the street from the garden at the intersection of Rue Linné and Rue Cuvier, across the street from the very decorative wrought iron gates of the garden. The fountain honors George Cuvier, considered the father of comparative anatomy, with his statue surrounded by a varied collection of animals. It was built by the park architect Vigoureux and the sculptor Jean-Jacques Feuchère in 1840.

The Amphitheater near Rue Cuvier in the northwest corner, was constructed in 1787-88 in the garden of the Hôtel de Magny on Rue Cuvier. It was built under the direction of Buffon as a venue for lectures on natural science and the discoveries in the gardens. It was built in a purely neoclassical, or Paladian style. The frontons are decorated with 18th century sculpture depicting the natural sciences. The building was extensively restored in 2002-2003. A large stone vase in front of the amphitheater is a vestige of the Royal Abbey of Saint-Victor, which occupied the site of the amphitheater, and was destroyed during the French Revolution.

The Pavilion of New Converts, in the northwest corner of the garden on the Allée Chevreul, is a vestige of the Convent of New Converts, founded in 1622 by Father Hyacinth of Paris and moved to the site in 1656. It was built to shelter Protestant converts to Catholicism. The surviving north facade, with a fronton in the Louis XIV style, contained the refectory, a parlour and bedrooms. After the French Revolution it became part of the gardens. It was the residence and laboratory of a director of the museum for 28 years, the chemist Eugene Chevreul, who died there in 1899 at the age of 103. Chevreul developed the use of color wheels or chromatic circles to resolve the definition of colors. His theory of colors was used at the Gobelins Manufactory of tapestries, where his laboratory was located, and inspired the palette of colors used by Eugène Delacroix. A statue of Chevreul is placed in the Carré Chevreul in the gardens.

The hôtel de Magny at 57 Rue Cuvier is the administration building of the gardens. It was built in about 1700 under Louis XIV as a residence, designed by the royal architect Pierre Bullet, whose works included the Porte Saint-Martin and mansions in Le Marais and Place Vendôme After the Revolution, it turned into a boarding school; the celebrated actor Talma was one of the students. The house and estates were purchased, by Buffon 1n 1787 to enlarge the gardens. (not open to the public).

Fountains and wells
Until 1984, when the construction of the underground zootheque began, a water lily pond was located on the Milne-Edwards esplanade, in front of the large Evolution gallery (which at that time was still called the “Zoology gallery”). Other basins housing aquatic mini-ecosystems can be found in the greenhouses, the school of botany, the alpine garden, the ecological garden and the Clos Patouillet (south of rue Buffon).

The largest basin in the Garden, at the foot of Buffon’s gazebo and the large labyrinth, is the Fountain of Lions, which were sculpted by Alfred Jacquemart, whose basin was once used as a water reservoir for summer horticultural irrigation and where, until the 1950s, frogs croaked. The Garden also includes two wells, one at the southern entrance and the other in the Alpine Garden. In addition, several Wallace fountains scattered in the Garden allow walkers to quench their thirst. Finally, one of the last two wall-mounted Wallace fountains still preserved in Paris is embedded in the wall of the Jardin des Plantes, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire.