We spent our day in Paris by walking. First we passed the (rather untidy) grounds of the Paris Observatory, then crossed the University district, went around the Grand Mosque, and finally arrived at our destination: the Jardin des Plantes.
Originally created as a place to cultivate medicinal herbs for the King's health, during the age of exploration it turned into a kind of botanical NASA, sending out expeditions all over the world to bring specimens back to France for study. Along the way it acquired a zoo, a large collection of minerals, and a Museum of Comparative Anatomy. No points awarded for figuring out which museum the comparative anatomist in the party wanted to visit.
Said Museum is a great old-school science museum. No "interactive" exhibits, no electronic bells and whistles, no cartoon characters. It's a warehouse full of skeletons, with a few densely-printed placards about where the specimens came from and their place in the history of life.
We learned something at the Jardin des Plantes: parents all over the world prefer to lie to their kids and make stuff up rather than stop and read the signs or admit ignorance. This is something we've seen at zoos and museums in the U.S., but apparently French parents do it, too.
Among the bones were some modern surreal sculptures of giant skulls, and in the entrance hall was an (unintentionally surreal) Beaux-Arts era sculpture of an orangutan strangling a native of Borneo. Now that's a museum!
With a camera full of images of bones we walked along the Seine and crossed over to the Isle St.-Louis and wandered about in search of lunch. Quite by accident we found a great place, where Diane got a strawberry gazpacho and a seafood salad, while I had a tomato salad (in which each wedge was from a different variety of tomato) and a sort of veal ratatouille which was delicious.
From there we crossed over onto the Right Bank in search of Mariage Freres, the tea shop which supplied Monsieur Guérard's restaurant in Gascony with tea. We found it on the Rue du Bourg-Tibourg and bought some fancy tea, then walked along the Rue Saint-Merri westward past Parisian hipsters to the famous Aurouze rat-catchers' shop on the Rue des Halles.
From there we crossed to the Ile de la Cite with the vague intention of looking in at Notre Dame cathedral, but the line to get in stretched halfway down the island so we kept on going back to the Left Bank for a stop at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore.* Then a look at the comics shops of the Rue Dante before stopping at a brasserie for lemonade and Kronenbourg.
By now we were getting rather footsore, but we struggled gamely on through the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace and finally back to our hotel for a shower and a rest. We covered approximately 10 miles during the day (including walking through the museums) so we rewarded ourselves with crepes and cider at a Breton restaurant near our hotel, and then collapsed into bed.