The Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden in France. It is situated in the 5ème arrondissement, Paris, on the left bank of the river Seine. It covers 28 hectares (280,000 m²).
The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle is situated within the garden. It is made up of four galleries: the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum and the Entomology Museum. In addition to the gardens there is also an aquarium and a small zoo.
The Jardin de Plantes maintains a botanical school, which trains botanists, constructs demonstration gardens, and exchanges seeds to maintain biotic diversity. About 4500 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 3000 species with world-wide representation. Specialized buildings, such as the Orangerie and the Mexican and Australian hothouses present regional plants, not native to France. The Rose Garden has hundreds of species of roses and rose trees.
The garden was originally planted by Guy de La Brosse, Louis XIII's physician, in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden. It was originally known as the Jardin du Roi. In 1650 it opened to the public.
After a period of decline Colbert took administrative control of the gardens. Dr Guy Crescent Fagon was appointed in 1693, and he surrounded himself with a team of brilliant botanists, including Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Antoine de Jussieu, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu and his son Adrien-Henri.
The Comte de Buffon became the curator in 1739 and he expanded the gardens greatly, adding a maze, the Labyrinth, which remains today. In 1792 the Royal Menagerie was moved to the gardens from Versailles.