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Jardin des Plantes et Pigeons

July 13, 2010

Bonjour à tous!

Yesterday I visited one of my old favorite places, le Jardin des Plantes, or the botanical gardens of Paris. This beautiful area — near the Gare d’Austerlitz, the Université Paris 6 campus, and the Institut du Monde Arabe (a Jean Nouvel-designed museum and library) — features long paths lined with exotic and very well-kept plants. It’s also the home to Paris’ zoo and Natural History Museum, which is spread across different themed buildings. The most impressive is the Halle d’Evolution, a massive exhibition that reminds me very much of New York’s, only more up-to-date in its curation.

Visting along the gardens (if you notice in the pictures, right during one of those odd urban moments where the weather is at the same time threatening and beautiful), I couldn’t help but notice one of the oddities that makes Paris extra charming: the Classy Pigeon.

The Stupid Pigeon.

In Paris I’ve noticed two kinds of pigeon: the regular stupid pigeon that New Yorkers refer to rats with wings, and a much more regal and physically larger pigeon that I’ve always referred to as the Classy Pigeon. They are, to me, much less stupid than your run-of-the-mill rat avec aîles, or even, rat aîlé.

It turns out that our typical pigeon is actually a rock pigeon, traditionally kept for food (blech! Well, maybe they taste good), while the classy one is actually a common wood pigeon, traditionally kept for game. They are part of a three-species family

The elusive Classy Pigeon.

known as Columba and are apparently common to Western Europe. We, the lowly United States, do not have the chance to walk amongst such fine feathers. Perhaps that’s why the everyone judges us so much!

“Look at ze seely Americains, zey have only ze Stupeed Pigeon!

Man, was that ever childish. Anyway, I find the jardin des plantes and the pigeons themselves to be extra charming. This area is, if you have children (another stupid species of animal), the perfect place to spend a day in Paris, as there are lots of places for kids to run around and play, as well as living and stuffed animals to gape at.

A la prochaine (tomorrow is Bastille Day, wee!),


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick permalink
    July 13, 2010 21:30

    I love your impromptu lecture on the Columbae in Paris. I noticed that your elegant pigeon is sporting a light blue or white band on its neck. Could it be that your judgement is influenced by the fact that E.P. looks like it is dressed in jacket -and-tie?

  2. alice permalink
    July 14, 2010 04:14

    I love that little Gallic bird. So chiquement habille!

    The Jardin des Plantes was one of the very first places I visited in Paris when I first set foot there in August, 1971. I’m forwarding this to my friends in Seattle who were there with me…this is all starting to feel very Marcel Proustien, mon cher enfant.


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