5th Arrondissement Activities
Place du Panthéon, 5th
Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, this giant mausoleum houses the remains of some of Paris's most famous citizens: Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Jean Monnet, Marie and Pierre Curie, Emile Zola, and as of 2002, Alexandre Dumas. And it was under the central dome that Léon Foucault constructed his pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth (the original now lives in the Musée des Arts et Métiers). In 2007, Jacques Chirac dedicated a plaque in The Pantheon to the thousands of French citizens who harbored Jews during the German occupation, saving them from concentration camp internment.
Le Jardin des Plantes
57 Rue Cuvier, 5th
First planted in 1635 as a medicinal herb garden by Guy de la Rousse, Louis XIII’s physician, these days Le Jardin des Plantes offers 69 sprawling acres of botanical gardens, scenic trails, and a natural history museum. The highlight, though, is a small zoo, which was founded in 1795, making it the second oldest in the world that’s still in existence (it’s outranked by Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Austria). Once home to animals from Versailles’ royal menagerie, the zoo is now known for its unusual, exotic (and often endangered) species.