I’ve heard about Sorbonne University for so many years, most certainly first from French class years ago. The way people talked about it, I was sure that it was the only place any French person would want to go to school. As my interest in the French language and France itself increased, I also considered going to school there. While my path took me in a different direction, I always remained curious about the school. After all, the Sorbonne is clearly an important institute in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. The beautiful domed building on its campus visible from Boulevard Saint Michel is what most people, including myself, think of when they think of the Sorbonne.
This year as I was preparing what monuments wanted to visit during the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days), I was pleasantly surprised to find the school was open for visits. I made it my first stop on Saturday.
The main hall, the Peristyle, is a large space with fluted columns with two huge stately staircases: the Escalier des Arts and the Escalier des Sciences, which lead to the reception rooms and to the galleries of the Grand Amphitheater.
The Sorbonne’s website describes this prominent statue in detail: Wearing a Phrygian cap with a crown of leaves, the statue is sitting and has in its right hand a sword pointing to the ground and, on the left, there is a small effigy of Minerva. To its right, there is a beehive and a horn of plenty and a pile of books on the left.”
I read on the Sorbonne’s website that the Salle Louis Liard is “the room in which PhD theses are defended and where diplomas giving accreditation to supervise research projects are awarded. These sessions are open to the public.” How interesting! Now, I’m tempted to go attend such a session sometime. I would love to see how the whole process is conducted.
The portraits on the walls are those of Pascal, Bossuet, Descartes, Racine, Molière and Corneille by François Schommer.
The final stop of the tour was the chapel, inside the domed building that is one of the better-known buildings on the Sorbonne property. All these years I had no idea it was a chapel; I just figured it was a magnificent hall for classes. I didn’t photograph it much this visit, though, as it is undergoing some renovation at the moment.
47 rue des Ecoles
🇫🇷 Read about my other visits to French National Monuments here.