Awakening To Paris’ Natural History Museum

Bonjour mes amis,

Ross from the television series “Friends” would seriously sink his teeth into the Gallery of Paleontology at the Natural History Museum in Paris. Otherwise known as Museum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle which was once under King Louis XIII,  it is located on Rue Curvier and is easily reachable by bus, train (stop at Gare Austerlitz) or batobus ( personally my favourite way of getting there- alighting at Jardin des Plantes.)

We can accredit the entire place to the wonderfully innovative naturalist, Georges Leclerc, the Compte de Buffon- honorable Keeper of The Kings Garden (Jardin du Roi) in the sixteenth century.

This  garden contained many medicinal plants for royalty and opened in 1640. Leclerc dedicated his entire life here  and later turned it into the fabulous museum and its gardens ( known now as the Jardin Des Plantes) for the next four hundred or so years and it is still enjoyed by everyone today.

As you enter the gates, you’ll be greeted by the statue of Jean Lamarck, another famous naturalist who had his own specific ideas on Evolution. He (and Darwin for that matter), were  influenced by the formidable  Leclerc.

That’s Lamarck thinking still….

Also at the front there are many gigantic models impressive to both young and old. One year, the dragon blew it’s fiery breath…

On the next visit, people were clambering to see the huge Meccano whale much to the delight of the child within!

Walk down The Allee Buffon which is a wide gravelly path lined  by English Plane trees  to the Museum in the distance. Discover the different gardens along the way like the Alpine, Rose and Winter gardens and the Mexican Glass house.

There’s also a huge herbarium stashing away  forty two thousand drawers of dried plants! Then just when you think that’s it, there’s the Gallery of Minerology, a girl’s next best friend with six hundred thousand mineral samples glimmering  from giant crystals and precious stones in rainbow colours. Lots of french oohs and arrhs around those of course!

Then my dear friends, my french awakening was alerted again once inside the Great Hall of Evolution.

You don’t have to be a nerd to be impressed. You can join the evolutionary trail of colossal animal specimens in a queue somewhat akin to entering Noah’s Ark!  Kids fully expect anyone of these animals to open their mouths and devour them instantly!

The displays and all specimens of flora and fauna are fantastic! Shoals of fish lurk  in corners, coral reefs are so lifelike and whale skeletons hover the entire length of the Gallery. Genetic models of  DNA double helical coils glow in lime green  and the story of life  is made colourful and awesome! They’ve gone to amazing lengths to keep everyone fascinated and they succeed brilliantly! So much to see, so much to learn here!

It’s 2010 and this I believe is the Year Of Biodiversity. The Natural History Museum takes you a step further into looking at biodiversity across our planet and you can get absorbed with the current Mozambique and Madagascar Expeditions as well. Learning about different destinations is afterall a great thing don’t you think?

Just like learning about Paris!

The Natural History Museum official Website is found at:

http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/foffice/transverse/transverse/accueil.xsp?cl=en

Do look it up and see the panoramic view of the main Gallery. You can also discover the walks and upload a map of the gardens before you visit.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

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