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So two weeks ago, I caught the 67 bus back from the Marais, and as it passed the Jardin des Plantes, I thought to myself, “Hmm, one day I should go check that out.” And then every day since then it has rained, and going to a botanical garden and ménagerie has seemed kind of pointless.

But this morning, I woke up to a perfect sunny day, blue sky, fluffy clouds, the works, and I decided that today was the day. The wait for the bus was 18 minutes, so I started walking; I made it all the way to Place d’Italie before realizing that, as I might actually like to make it to my destination before I had to come back to rehearse with Nicky, I’d better wait for the next bus. A few minutes later, I was standing in front of the Jardin des Plantes.

The gardens really are beautiful (even though it started clouding over again as soon as I got off the bus–go figure!). I’d like to go back in the summer, when I can really enjoy them without getting cold or having to rush to beat the rain, but here are some pictures.

And then I decided to fork over 8 euros to go to the zoo. Because I’m a sucker for a great zoo.

The Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes isn’t really a great zoo. Well…maybe it’s not that, but it’s very French in that it’s not really very much FUN. Most of the animals are sheep or goats of some kind, horses, some nifty birds, camels, llamas–but honestly, when I go to the zoo, I hope for some big cats, elephants, polar bears, whatever. I don’t know if there’s just no space, since Paris is a bit cramped as it is, or if that’s just too exotic and wild for the French. The French do tend to make their own fun. (ETA: What I mean by this is that they don’t tend to have a whole lot of STUFF in parks, like jungle gyms and swings–I walked past a park on Rue Bobillot yesterday that was pretty much an enormous blank space with a tiny little climbing structure in one corner. I’m not sure if this is an aesthetic thing or an imagination encouragement idea…) I think about American zoos and all of the extraneous activities, sometimes carnival rides, tons of kiosks to buy food, and then I look at the Ménagerie, which is a bit sophisticated and, well, BEIGE. And nobody knows about the zoo. It’s not at all a tourist attraction–most of the other people who were there were French parents with their small children. It took me months of living here to figure out where the zoo was (I figured Paris is an important enough city, they’ve got to have some exotic animals somewhere!), and it turns out to be embedded deep within the Jardin des Plantes. Botanical gardens are much closer to the French aesthetic and sensibility than zoos are, I think.

That said, I enjoyed myself, and took lots of pictures of animals being silly. It was like getting a whole new lesson in French animal vocabulary.


Les autruches!

Un hibou! Un hibou dormant sur terre! (Seriously, this owl was sleeping on the ground. Who knew?)

Some kind of antelope? I didn’t read the signs that closely.

There is pretty much nothing cuter than a small French child calling out, “Maman! Maman! LE KANGOUROU!”

Except maybe baby sheep getting stuck up on a big stump and baa-ing a lot. While their proud papa looked on and did nothing:

I actually found this guy so hilarious that I took a video, but my internet connection is so slow that I can’t get it to upload. Zut, zut et zut!

Oh, and there was totally a petting zoo. With les cochons indiens. I was like, there are PIGS? Where? But then I realized that they meant…

…guinea pigs.

The Parisian maman standing next to me with her son was trying to feed carrots to the goats, but it turned out that, like most people, the goats preferred les gâteaux.

Flamingos! Or les flamants, which I think C.J. Cregg would have preferred to be her Secret Service code name. No jackals at the zoo, unfortunately, nor could I get a clip of “The Jackal.” But here’s another good one.

Anyway. Now you know that there is a zoo in Paris. You should go, because the animals will love it if you do.


P.S. The second I got home it started raining. *facepalm*