The second leg of my work trip involved going to Montpellier, France for another round of meetings. I headed there straight from Senegal, which meant I arrived a bit early and could do some sightseeing. Montpellier has many lovely things to see, but I had to prioritize. And truthfully, my heart was set on one main attraction: the Jardin des Plantes–France’s oldest botanic garden, established in 1593 by King Henry IV and managed by the University of Montpellier. Armed with a bottle of water and my camera, I explored every inch of the Garden, spending almost 5 hours there; in fact, I was the first person to arrive that morning. It was so peaceful and beautiful (and a very welcome change from sitting in meetings all day). As the day wore on, people arrived to picnic on grassy areas, read books in shady nooks, and wander around admiring the plants–all in an environment that seemed far removed from the normal bustle of Montpellier life.
Here are a few sights from the Jardin des Plantes: the Garden’s arches, benches, staircases, and pathways; the famous Wish Tree (a phylliria) where lovers leave messages; and a few other plants (a pink Cistus, a spiky Agave stricta Salm-Dyck, and a close-up of the polka-dotted Opuntia microdasys cactus).