Opened in 1640 and once known as the Jardin du Roi (or King's Garden), this sprawling patch of greenery is a neighborhood gem. It's home to several gardens and various museums, all housed in 19th-century buildings whose original architecture blends glass with ornate ironwork. If you have kids, take them to the excellent Grande Galerie de l'Évolution or one of the other natural-history museums here: the Galerie de Paléontologie, stocked with dinosaur and other skeletons,
and the rock-laden Galerie de Minéralogie (which will welcome visitors again in late 2014 after a makeover). The botanical and rose gardens are impressive, and plant lovers won't want to miss the towering greenhouses (serre in French). After a five-year renovation, they reopened in 2010 and are filled with one of the world's most extensive collections of tropical and desert flora. If the kids prefer fauna, visit the Ménagerie, a small zoo founded in 1795 whose animals once fed Parisians during the 1870 Prussian siege. The star attractions are Nénette, the grande-dame orangutan from Borneo, and her swinging friends in the monkey and ape house. If you need a break, there are three kiosk cafés in the Jardin.
Entrances on Rue Geoffroy-St-Hilaire, Rue Cuvier, Rue de Buffon, and Quai St-Bernard, Paris, 75005, France