The Jardin des Plantes is made up of a lot of different areas and museums (it's Paris' natural history museum), and today I visited the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution and the Galleries de Paleontologie et d'Anatomie Comparee.
The Grande Galerie de l'Evolution was beautiful. It's like what other museums have with life-size fake animals, but this felt different because it was laid out in such a cool way -- even though the animals weren't for touching, you could walk right by them (and in some cases you had to walk close to them because of how it was laid out in order to move around), and the way they created different levels was really successful. It was hard take good non-flash pictures because the museum itself was kept so dark...which worked because it make walking by those life-like animals a little more nerve-wracking!
Also, the inside of the building itself was really beautiful -- basically, it was like the department store Bon Marche in that if you stand on the ground floor where the make-up department is, you can look up and see what's on every floor and the intricate designs on the railings of each, plus the nice ceiling. This museum is literally just like that, except it's really really dark inside and instead of walking by fancy make-up, you walk by lots and lots of animals. And everything is really fluid and things hover in the air between floors in some cases. SO COOL!
(A giraffe on the 4th floor saying hello to a camel on the 3rd floor).
(It's a little hard to tell, but these penguins are standing on "ice" and if you look down you can see the fish underneath).
(A museum guard took this picture of me with giraffes in the background!)
(And then he insisted that I take one with the elephant too...I guess he didn't understand that giraffes are AEPhi's mascot and elephants aren't, but I didn't know how to explain that in French).
It was really really great. And the even have a whole room dedicated to dodo-related things.
Then, I walked through the garden to the Galleries de Paleontologie et d'Anatomie Comparee, which is my new favorite thing about Paris.
(Me and one of those funny-looking whales).
When people think of things to do in Paris, I guess this stuff doesn't generally make it on their lists. I love art museums and beautiful gardens and things like that, but when I visited the Jardin des Plantes today, I didn't expect to love it so much...it's definitely the most exciting thing I've visited since arriving (it made me want to be a biologist for a split second, and if you know how how little interest I normally have in biology, then that will mean something to you). My photos don't really capture the grand scale of it all, so I highly highly recommend a visit the next time any of you come to Paris!