Many of Global Voices’ 800 members around the world envy those in the Global Voices team living in Paris. If you are visiting Paris this summer, Global Voices Paris strongly recommend paying a visit to Paris’ Plant Garden (Jardin des Plantes) district.
First, the park
Although the Plant Garden and the surrounding area had fallen out of fashion, they have recently become areas of rediscovery. The Garden is the oldest of Paris’ grand parks, and was initially the royal medicinal garden. It owes much to the French Revolution, under which it was made into a “temple of science”, while at the same time retaining its bourgeois and provincial charm.
The Garden is peaceful, full of flowers, and very (possibly too) educational. Instead of being a place for lounging around on sun-bathed lawns, here is somewhere made for strolling along wide groves under tunnels of succulent foliage. Various workshops and introductions from botany to watercolour painting take place in its grounds, and the Garden also contains a range of historical wonders such as the greenhouse, and evolution galleries (including, of course, dinosaurs). You must also see its petting zoo (with or without children), where France's first giraffe was revealed in 1827 (although it is probably best not to remind everyone that the zoo's animals, including its elephant, were eaten during the 1870 Siege of Paris).
The Plant Garden's current exhibition and event programme
Second, the Great Mosque of Paris
In the Parisian's mind, the Plant Garden is almost synonymous with tea time at the mosque, which takes place opposite the Garden in Paris’ Great Mosque, which was opened in 1926. Tea time takes place on the Mosque's cool terrace, where cheeky sparrows help themselves to whatever is on your plate as you enjoy tea and pastries.
Third, terraces and places
The current headquarters of Paris-based Global Voices members, the restaurant and café Verse Toujours, can be found five minutes away from the Garden and Great Mosque. Lacking any pretentiousness or hype, it has a large and wonderful terrace which is ideal in the late afternoon for making the most of the sun.
Hungry? If you have some spare change, the Comptoir des arts (approved by the Global Voices team after a birthday celebration test run) is just a stone's throw away. More affordable and more in line with the Global Voices spirit, is the Foyer Vietnam, a ‘piece of Vietnam situated in the heart of Paris’, which is simultaneously a canteen (anticipate queues), an association and an exhibition hall. For Syrian pastries, you should make a date at the Petites merveilles de Damas.