Founded in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden for Louis XIII, Paris’ 24-hectare botanic gardens – visually defined by the double alley of plane trees that runs the length of the park – are an idyllic spot to stroll around, break for a picnic (watch out for the automatic sprinklers!) and escape the city concrete for a spell. Three museums from the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and a small zoo, La Ménagerie, add to its appeal.
Other attractions include peony and rose gardens, an alpine garden, and the gardens of the École de Botanique, used by students of the school and green-fingered Parisians. The beautiful glass-and-metal Grandes Serres, a series of four greenhouses, have been in use since 1714; several of Henri Rousseau's jungle paintings, sometimes on display in the Musée d'Orsay, were inspired by his frequent visits here.