The oldest botanical garden in France contains thousands of plant species and trees that are hundreds of years old.
The Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier is an area of stunning natural beauty, covering 11 acres (4.5 hectares) near the center of the city. The attractive park was founded in 1593 and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. It encompasses more than 2,500 plants species, ponds, an arboretum and landscaped areas. The site is owned by University of Montpellier I and is also used for study and research.
Devote at least a couple of hours to exploring the garden. Visit the oldest part, a hill known as Richer’s Mountain where you can see an old phillyrea tree and a Judas tree that was planted by the garden’s founder. In the arboretum, find the Ginkgo biloba that was planted toward the end of the 1700s. This species of tree is unique in that it has no relatives. There is also an olive tree that is more than 250 years old.
Take a look inside the tropical greenhouses. Observe the giant water lilies, orchids and other exotic species. Meander through the bamboo forest then relax by the large pool inside the landscaped garden. Look for Japanese carp and aquatic tortoises in the water, then step into the small greenhouse to see its collection of cacti.
Walk around the garden's Systematic School and note the busts of important medical naturalists from the region that surround it. As you make your way through the green expanse you will come across old bits of masonry and flower covered columns and arches that date back to the garden’s origins.
The Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier is open every day except Mondays and admission is free. To avoid large crowds, come during the week. Guided tours in English can be arranged by written request at least 1 month before your intended visit.
Situated approximately half a mile (0.8 kilometers) northwest of the Place de la Comédie, the garden is well served by public transport.