The Jardin des Plantes is often missed by visitors to Paris, and yet this side of the Latin Quarter offers some of Paris' greatest treasures.
Jardin des Plantes - tasting only
Left Bank history comes alive in this unique wine walk.
One of Europe's oldest parks, the National Botanical Gardens of France was created in the 17th century on land that was used for mass graves during the plague. In 1635 it became the King's vegetable garden, which lead to it becoming the focus of botanical research and the home to naturalists from around Europe.
The vineyard, planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay, does not produce wine, but provides a link with the earliest studies in ampelography as well as a scientific laboratory of viticultural study.
Jardin des Plantes
Vineyards in early Paris
Paris grew up along the banks of the Seine and what is now the 5th was the epicentre of Roman Paris. The baths of Cluny and the Roman Arena off the rue Monge are among the vestiges of this period. In the middle ages, vineyards attached to the Abbeys of Notre Dame de Paris and Saint Germain des Prés flourished all along the left bank. The Montagne Saint Geneviève, upon which now sits the Pantheon, formed a large vineyard divided into ‘clos’ or enclosures, with streets still bearing their names (Clos Bruneau, Clos Garlande...).
The National Botanical Gardens
Transmitting a tradition... In the Jardin des Plantes, which has been open to the public for almost 400 years, the tremendous plant diversity in shapes, colours and perfumes is the support for knowledge dissemination and preservation. The park welcomes you to a unique haven of beauty in France.
From generation to generation
When you tread the soil of the Jardin des Plantes, spare a thought for those before you... Though scientists and gardeners have shaped the garden, kings, queens, damsels, dandies, great ladies and turbulent children have admired the proud and protected nature of the only botanical garden in the capital, which is also classed as an historical monument. But one visit is not enough to discover all the secrets of a place that could become your favourite walk.
In the shadow of giants
Created in the 17th century (1626), upon the instigation of doctors Heroard Jean and Guy de la Brosse, the Jardin des Plantes, the historic heart of the Museum, was primarily devoted to species with medicinal and therapeutic virtues. In the 18th century, it became a research centre and museum, under the leadership of Buffon. After the Revolution, it continued its scientific development. The many buildings of the garden, all classified historic monuments, were built during this exceptional period: the Geology and Mineralogy Gallery, the Great Gallery of Evolution, the Great Greenhouses…The history of the park is vast and its scientific legacy long. One can have a sense of this expanse of time via the "historic" trees such as the Lebanese cedar planted in 1734 by the botanist Bernard de Jussieu. The park is also dotted with statues of the great men who have shaped the garden. There are statues of Buffon, Lamarck and a rather funerary memorial to Daubentin near the labyrinth, while just outside the park, on the corner of rue Linné and rue Cuvier is the magnificent Cuvier fountain.
The Ecological Garden
There have been various vineyards in the Jardin des Plantes over the centuries, notably under Colbert planted on the hill around what is now the labyrinth, and the vine plays a significant part in the garden’s logo, adorning half of its vegetal composition (seen here below). Just prior to the current vineyard, planted in a flat section of the park in the ecologicial garden, there was a section of vines on the rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire side of the park, but they were shadowed by the surrounding trees and, though west facing, received very little sunlight.
A research vineyard
There are 250 vines in the Ecological Garden of the Jardin des Plantes (planted in 2003), representing the 3 main grape varieties, Gamay, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir most commonly planted in the Ile de France. There are also a few French / American hybrid vines of Baco (a cross between Folle Blanche and Noah designed to resist phylloxera planted widely in Gascony for brandy production - Armagnac and Cognac) as well as Noah, derived from a Vitis Labrusca or Fox Grape. A moderately cold resistant varietal, Noah is used in wine production most notably for Uhudler (an Austrian wine) and Fragolino (a sparkling red Italian wine).
Philippe Barré, the gardener responsible for the vineyard, reminds us that the plateau of the Ile de France (the Paris region) was among the most viticulturally active areas of France. The objective here is not to produce wine, but to study the symbiotic relationships between the vines and the biodiversity around. For this reason, all ‘foreign’ plants are allowed to grow among the vines and the soil is worked superficially by mowing the diversity of plants growing between the rows. Insects are encouraged as they play determining roles in the health of the vines while others serve to control those that cause harm.
There are also a few wild vines that have been allowed to climb into the neighbouring trees, which have now reached a length of several metres, reminding us that grape vines are creepers and when allowed to grow un-checked, will grow to amazing lengths.
• Visit to the Jardin des Plantes vineyard
• History of the Botanical gardens
• Background to viticulture and agriculture
• Varietal tasting of vines planted in the JdP in a wine shop
• Possible bread tasting
Time & Money
• 2-4 hours long
• From 45 € per person (wine walk & tasting only)
• Exclusive (maximum 8 wine enthusiasts)
• Organic & biodynamic wines
• Physically easy (a couple of kilometres of walking)
• Start time 10:30am or 4pm
• Please let us know if you have food allergies or intolerances. This tour generally includes gluten (bread), pork (charcuterie), dairy (raw cheese) and fish (ex. oysters, smoked salmon)
• Not for children (minimum 16 years old)