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Jardin des Plantes

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The Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants) is another popular park to visit, particularly for those families with children. Located near the Gare Austerlitz (Austerlitz Train Station), one of the largest train stations in Paris, the Jardin des Plantes not only features the first botanical garden in the world during the reign of King Louis XIII in the early 17 th century, it also features a small but very popular zoo, known as the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes. In fact this tiny yet unique zoo was the first public zoo in Paris and now offers over 1,000 animals for public view.

As with any popular attraction in the great City of Lights, there is public transport that isn't too far of a stroll to reach the Jardin des Plantes. The Metro subway and RER serve the station adjacent to the Gare Austerlitz and is approximately 500 meters away from the park zoo. Paris Metro Lines #5 and #10, as well as the RER C Line serve this station.

The park is on nearly 30 hectares of public space and also features the National History Museum, which has four separate sections scattered on the vast property. The sections of the museum are the Grand Gallery of Evolution, the Palaeontology Museum, the Entomology Museum and the Mineralogy Museum.

Founded in 1635, the Natural History Museum is very popular amongst school children and it wouldn't be unusual to see scores of school children running about on an organized field trip. On display at the Natural History Museum are the skeleton of a brontosaurus over 25 metres long, the tyrannosaurus rex, giant birds, and mastodons. Not too be missed if you visit this museum is the incredible “hall of bones that has a huge collection of dinosaur skeletons. If you walk amongst these huge skeletons, you can only imagine what it was like running along the dinosaurs in of the Jurassic Park movies! Other samples of animals are taxidermy versions of polar bears, giraffes, elephants and hippopotami. You'll also have the opportunity to view over 200,000 different fossils of plants and animals.

The Mineralogy Museum has an vast collection of over 600,000 gems, crystals, meteorites, and stones in all shapes in sizes, some as heavy as 16 tonnes. The Entomology Museum is just as impressive as its collection holds an enormous collection of tens of thousands of entomological and arachnological specimens. The Grand Gallery of Evolution has three levels of displays and artefacts that will guide you through the evolution from the dawn of time through the period when the first ancestors to man first walked the earth. The first level will have a large gallery of marine life, including prehistoric fish, a whale skeleton, giant sharks, coral and other interesting specimens. The second level is devoted to the some of the tools and weapons that early man used such as equipment for fishing and foraging, The third level is mostly devoted concepts of modern evolution and is a very good source of information for children, particularly for those who are on those many field trips.
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