Natural History + Science Museums

While these dinosaurs probably won’t come to life (RIP), they do make great focal exhibits for Paris’ natural history and science museums. So if you’re feeling a bit nerdy or just need a break from the croissant and wine side of Paris (P.S. how dare you), there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at these places.

Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle

This was once a roy­al gar­den ded­i­cat­ed to grow­ing and using plants for med­i­cine, which lat­er became an area known sim­ply as the King’s Gar­den. Then on June 10, 1793, the French Rev­o­lu­tion came along and decid­ed to com­bine the King’s Gar­den with the nat­ur­al his­to­ry cab­i­net and the rest, as they say, is his­to­ry. Here you can find about 67 mil­lion spec­i­mens to look at, some sci­en­tif­ic research­ing activ­i­ties, and a few more muse­ums and gar­dens nearby.

ADDRESS: 57 Rue Cuvi­er (5ht arr.)

MÉTRO: Jussieu (lines 7, 10)

NEIGHBORHOOD: St. Vic­tor

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NUMBER: +33 1 40 79 56 01

Jardin des Plantes

Trans­lat­ed to the Gar­den of Plants, the Jardin des Plantes is not just one gar­den. There’s eleven of them to choose from! Togeth­er, they pack four cen­turies of sci­en­tif­ic won­der and dis­cov­ery for you to wan­der and dis­cov­er. Besides the green­hous­es, there’s the per­spec­tive squares, the rose-and-rock gar­den, the botan­i­cal school, the alpine gar­den, and the École de botanique, a sec­tion ded­i­cat­ed to show­ing the evo­lu­tion of plants. The col­lec­tions are always evolv­ing, giv­ing guests a unique and ter­rif­ic expe­ri­ence.  The exte­ri­or gar­dens are free to vis­it, but for the inte­ri­or and green­house gar­dens you’ll need a ticket.

ADDRESS: 57 Rue Cuvi­er (5th arr.)

HOURS: dai­ly 7:30a‑6:30p

MÉTRO: Gare d’Auster­litz (lines 5, 10), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)

NEIGHBORHOOD: St. Vic­tor

PRICE: free

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NUMBER: +33 01 40 79 56 01

INSTAGRAM: @le_museum

Musée de l’Homme

This muse­um has over 133 years of expe­ri­ence shar­ing a sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing of human evo­lu­tion with the pub­lic. It start­ed off as the Tro­cadéro Muse­um of Ethnog­ra­phy in 1882. Its goal was to pre­serve objects from a “van­ish­ing cul­ture.” Even its design was made to reflect the evolutionist/ethnocentric con­cepts of that time. In 1928, the muse­um had an evo­lu­tion of its own, shift­ing its focus to anthro­pol­o­gy rather than, uh,  ethnog­ra­phy. That change cul­mi­nat­ed in the 1937 open­ing of the muse­um as it’s known today: an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to show every­thing that con­cerns human beings, regard­less of race or creed, and believes that every­thing has a place and deserves recog­ni­tion. Over the years, they’ve added more archae­o­log­i­cal col­lec­tions to reflect this mis­sion. Its per­ma­nent exhibits aim to ques­tion the ori­gins of humankind and what it means to under­stand the human race in a bio­log­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and soci­etal sense.

ADDRESS: 17 Place du Tro­cadéro et du 11 Novem­bre (16th arr.)

HOURS: Wed. — Mon 11a-7p

MÉTRO: Tro­cadéro (lines 6, 9)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Chail­lot

PRICE: €10

HOW TO BOOK: online

NUMBER: +33 01 44 05 72 72

INSTAGRAM: @museedelhomme

Parc Zoologique de Paris

If you’re want­i­ng to explore the wild world of exot­ic ani­mals, the Parc Zoologique de Paris or the Vin­cennes Zoo may be the place for you. Open­ing in 1934, the zoo start­ed off with 1200 birds and 600 mam­mals, with the Great Boul­der being its sig­na­ture attrac­tion. As the years passed, the zoo fell into dis­re­pair. How­ev­er in 2008, the parc under­went a major ren­o­va­tion, send­ing most of their ani­mals to oth­er zoos both in France and abroad. Final­ly in April 2014, the place reopened, offer­ing more for guests as well as the ani­mals in their care. Now the area is divid­ed into five bio-zones con­tain­ing over 180 ani­mal species. It’s quite pricey, how­ev­er, so be pre­pared for stick­er shock. Plus it’s not includ­ed in the list of attrac­tions cov­ered by the Paris Muse­um Pass.

ADDRESS: Avenue Daumes­nil (12th arr.)

HOURS: varying

MÉTRO: Porte Dorée (line 8) or Saint-Mandé (line 1)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Pic­pus

PRICE: €20 adults, €15 children

HOW TO BOOK: online

NUMBER: +33 08 11 22 41 22

INSTAGRAM: @zoodeparis

Le Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

In the Jardin des Plantes, there’s a good chance you’ll see this place among its col­lec­tions and green­hous­es. Since its open­ing in 1794, le Ménagerie is the sec­ond-old­est mini zoo in the world. As their col­lec­tion of ani­mals grew (thanks to the seizure of exot­ic ani­mals in pri­vate col­lec­tions dur­ing the first French Rev­o­lu­tion, sor­ry Jacques Exo­tique), so did the num­ber of build­ings that accom­pa­nied them. In 1827,  Zarafa the giraffe became the first well-known ani­mal that cap­tured patrons’ atten­tion. She lived in her rotun­da in the zoo for eigh­teen years. Today, you have a chance to see the orang­utan Nénette, the newest shin­ing star. All the zoo build­ings have been pre­served and pro­tect­ed since 1993, and they have gone through their own restora­tion projects as well as addi­tions over the years.

ADDRESS: 57 Rue Cuvi­er (5th arr.)

HOURS: dai­ly 9a-5p

MÉTRO: Gare d’Auster­litz (lines 5, 10), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)

NEIGHBORHOOD: St Vic­tor

PRICE: €13

HOW TO BOOK: online

NUMBER: +33 01 40 79 56 01

INSTAGRAM: @le_museum

Palais de la Découverte

Note: this place is cur­rent­ly closed for ren­o­va­tion, set to reopen approx­i­mate­ly in 2025.
The Palais de la Décou­verte first opened on May 24, 1937 as a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Nobel Prize win­ner Jean Per­rin, the Pop­u­lar Front, and the 1937 Uni­ver­sal Exhi­bi­tion. Its goal was to pop­u­lar­ize “sci­ence in the mak­ing”, host­ing live exper­i­men­ta­tion such as dis­play­ing sta­t­ic elec­tric­i­ty and mak­ing liq­uid air. There were over 400 live exper­i­ments per­formed in the lab­o­ra­to­ry. In 2017, it cel­e­brat­ed its 80-year anniver­sary by start­ing a long ren­o­va­tion process that is still going on to this day.

ADDRESS: Avenue Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt (8th arr.)

MÉTRO: Champs-Élysées — Clemenceau (lines 1, 13)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Champs Élysées

PRICE: €9

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NUMBER: +33 01 56 43 20 20

INSTAGRAM: @palaisdeladecouverte

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

It is one of the largest sci­en­tif­ic cul­ture cen­ters in the world. Orig­i­nal­ly, the area was known as La Vil­lete and the build­ings were used as live­stock slaugh­ter­hous­es which oper­at­ed until 1974. From there, the area was recon­fig­ured to the giant sci­ence mec­ca it’s known for today. It opened in 1986, just in time to glimpse Halley’s Comet pass­ing by the earth. Since then, it serves as a bridge between sci­ence, soci­ety, and tech­nol­o­gy, mak­ing all three of them more acces­si­ble for all ages. Just as Paris trans­forms, so does the muse­um. Some exhi­bi­tions come and go while oth­ers, such as the aquar­i­um and the Great Sto­ry of the Uni­verse, have a per­ma­nent place at the cen­ter.  There’s also a sub­ma­rine that I’m sur­prised they haven’t turned it into a bar yet.

ADDRESS: 30 Corentin-Car­i­ou Avenue (19th arr.)

HOURS: dai­ly 9:30a-6p (Sun­days open ’til 7p)

MÉTRO: Porte de la Vil­lette (line 7)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Vil­lette

PRICE: €12

HOW TO BOOK: online

NUMBER: +33 01 40 05 80 00

INSTAGRAM: @citedessciences

Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace

If you’re look­ing for his­tor­i­cal adven­tures in air and space, this place is right up your alley. In 1914, land between Dugny and Le Bour­get was being used dur­ing the Great War. In 1919, the land was con­vert­ed for civ­il pur­pos­es such as host­ing com­mer­cial air­lines (which it would con­tin­ue to do until 1981), and around the same time, Albert Caquot called for an aero­nau­tics con­ser­va­to­ry. The War Min­istry agreed. In 1921, the place dis­played all the air­crafts that sur­vived the Great War which remains an exhi­bi­tion that’s still up and run­ning to this day. In 1983, the con­ser­va­to­ry incor­po­rat­ed a “Space Hall”, which was ded­i­cat­ed to the his­to­ry of man’s space explo­ration, mak­ing it the Air and Space muse­um. Half of the staff works on restor­ing the planes to their glo­ry, and the oth­er half accom­mo­dates patrons to have the best expe­ri­ence possible.

ADDRESS: Paris-Le Bour­get Air­port, 93352 Le Bourget

HOURS: Tues. — Sun. 10a-5p

MÉTRO: Bus 350, stop « Air and Space Museum »

NEIGHBORHOOD: Aéro­port de Paris Le Bourget

PRICE: €16

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NUMBER: +33 01 49 92 70 62

INSTAGRAM: @museeairespace

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Since its inau­gu­ra­tion in Feb­ru­ary 1967, the Musée de la Chas­se et de la Nature dis­plays the rela­tion­ship between humans and hunt­ing. This place fea­tures taxi­dermy and lots of it. There is also art on dis­play, weapons, and tro­phy col­lec­tions. In July 2019, it was closed for expan­sion. Now it’s re-open and more acces­si­ble than ever. It has an addi­tion­al 250 square meters for tem­po­rary exhibits and a spa­cious recep­tion center.

ADDRESS: 62 Rue des Archives (3rd arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun. 11am-6pm, Noc­turnes (July and August not includ­ed): Wed. 6pm‑9:30pm

MÉTRO: Hôtel de Ville (line 1), Ram­buteau (line 11), Arts et Métiers (lines 3, 11), Eti­enne Mar­cel (line 4)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Les Archives

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NUMBER: +33 1 53 01 92 40

INSTAGRAM: @museechassenature