Academic Route

Discover in one hour 15 minutes the Latin Quarter and the Observatory.
The ACADEMIC route will take you to the upper part of the left bank of the river Seine, the birthplace of knowledge where the University of Paris has been since the 12th century.

To find out more, move your mouse over the numbered points of interest on the map!

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

Here, in 1163, the Bishop of Paris decided to erect a gothic cathedral in to honour the Virgin Mary. Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral was eventually finished one hundred years later. This gothic masterpiece has towers 70 metres high, flying buttresses and immense rose windows, beautifully carved doorways and statue galleries.

Saint-Julien le Pauvre Church

Saint-Julien le Pauvre Church

Founded in the 6th century, Saint-Julien le Pauvre was the chapel of a hospice for pilgrims, dedicated to Julian the Hospitaller, the patron saint of travellers. Saint-Julien le Pauvre church, rebuilt in the 12th century, is one of the oldest in Paris. It is today devoted to Melchite, Catholic Greek and Byzantine rite.

Saint-Séverin Church

Saint-Séverin Church

Built in the 6th century, destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century, and rebuilt from the 13th century. Its flamboyant gothic interior is exceptional, notably its palm-shaped pillars. Its gothic stained glasses are side by side the contemporary designs of artist Jean Bazaine. Its 15th century cloister houses a cemetery containing the last remaining mass graves in Paris.

Saint-Jacques Street - Way of Saint-James

Saint-Jacques Street - Way of Saint-James

North-south road opened up by the Romans. In the 12th century, during their fight to win Spain back from the Muslims, the Christians called for the entire West to support them and undertake the pilgrimage to Compostela. In Paris, Saint-Jacques tower was the place from where the pilgrims set off. And their road heading south took the name of rue Saint-Jacques, way of Saint-James.

Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny - National Middle Ages Museum

Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny - National Middle Ages Museum

Residence of the Abbots of Cluny, built in 1485 (the Cluny abbey, created in Burgundy in the 10th century, founded a thousand monasteries in France). It houses the National Middle Ages Museum and contains the tapestries of the “Lady and the Unicorn”. A visit to this museum includes a visit to the huge Roman thermal baths, built in the 2nd century.

Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics

Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics

A French-style “grande école” that trains construction engineers. Created in 1891. Set up in this building in 1934.

Chapel of the Collège de Beauvais - Romanian Church

Chapel of the Collège de Beauvais - Romanian Church

Here stood in the 14th century a huge academy, which is no longer there today. All that remains is an elegant chapel built in 1375. Its gothic octagonal spire is one of a kind in Paris. It now houses the orthodox Romanian church.

Collège de France

Collège de France

Founded in 1530 by King François the First, with the objective of teaching science being discovered right now and not science already known, as was the case at the University. Place of excellence as far as know-how and research are concerned.

Jussieu Faculty of Sciences

Jussieu Faculty of Sciences

With its 13-hectare campus, the Jussieu Faculty of Sciences groups several tens of thousand researchers and students. It is situated on the site of the former Saint-Victor abbey et Saint-Victor school, founded in the beginning of the 12th century. Saint-Victor abbey was destroyed in the revolution and replaced by the wine market. Then in 1958, a decision was made to build Europe’s biggest scientific university. Architect: Edouard Albert.

Former building of the Ecole Polytechnique

Former building of the Ecole Polytechnique

A French style "grande école", founded in 1794. Napoleon gave it a military status, and established it here. Reputed for its difficult admission exam, and nicknamed “X”, it belongs to the elite engineering schools. In the 1970’s it adopted a civil status, admitted girls, and finally left the Latin Quarter for the Palaiseau campus in the south of Paris. 500 “polytechnicians” graduate every year.

Saint-Etienne du Mont Church

Saint-Etienne du Mont Church

Created in the 15th century to house the tomb of Sainte-Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, and receive her crowd of faithful. Famous for its jubé, a kind of flamboyant gothic gallery, visible inside, and its distinctive façade, which is a combination of all the styles of its era from gothic to Renaissance. In 1793, revolutionaries desecrated Geneviève’s tomb, burning her bones and throwing the ashes into the Seine.

Clovis Tower - Lycée Henri IV

Clovis Tower - Lycée Henri IV

Clovis, the first king of the Francs, who converted to Catholicism, was buried here in 511. His advisor Geneviève was also buried nearby, and consecrated as patron saint of Paris, after helping the Parisians to withstand the terrible Huns when they invaded France in 451. Her loyal followers created Sainte-Geneviève abbey. During the French revolution, the abbey was demolished and replaced with the current Lycée Henri IV, a secondary school. One vestige of the medieval abbey is the bell tower that stands in the middle of the Lycée. It is called Clovis Tower.

Sainte-Geneviève Library

Sainte-Geneviève Library

From 1248, Sainte-Geneviève abbey had its own copyists and a library where the monks accumulated 60,000 works. During the revolution, the collection should have been seized and broken up but its director secured the library’s fate. Better still, Sainte-Geneviève library was provided with a new building equal to its worth, built here in 1851 out of modern iron and cast-iron and with an impressive reading room.

Pantheon

Pantheon

This monument was commissioned by King Louis the Fifteenth to be the new Sainte-Geneviève church. It was designed by architect Soufflot and finished in 1789, just before the revolution. Revolutionaries turned the church into the Pantheon, a civic temple dedicated to illustrious men, where they installed philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau. Today 67 personages rest at the national Pantheon beneath the inscription “To great men, a grateful homeland”.

Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law was created in the beginning of the 12th century, as was the University of Paris. Today it occupies a building which was designed by architect Soufflot in 1771-1774, at the same time as the Pantheon.

Town Hall of the 5th district

Town Hall of the 5th district

The Town Hall returns symmetry to the Faculty of Law. But it was built later, in 1845-1849, by architect Hittorf.

Lycée Louis Le Grand

Lycée Louis Le Grand

This secondary school bears the name given to it by the Sun King Louis the Fourteenth, known as Louis Le Grand. Three of the last six French presidents, Pompidou, Giscard d'Estaing and Chirac, were students at this school, rated to be the best in France!

Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University

Robert de Sorbon, advisor to King Louis the Ninth, suggested creating an academy, a "collège", to provide accomodation for the teachers and students. So the king founded the University’s first academy, the Collège de la Sorbonne, in 1253. The dome and the chapel were added in 1625 by Cardinal de Richelieu, chief of the Sorbonne, to house his own tomb. Jesuit Ignatius Loyola, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth, and Pierre de Coubertin attended the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne was also the centre of student dissent in May 1968.

Former anatomical theatre

Former anatomical theatre

In the beginning of the University of Paris, dissections were banned. To teach anatomy, professors engaged in clandestine dissections in their homes on bodies stolen from the Hôtel-Dieu hospital! It wasn’t until 1691 that Louis the Fourteenth finally gave the Fraternity of Surgeons this first official anatomical lecture theatre.

Cordeliers convent

Cordeliers convent

Vestige of the Cordeliers convent (15th century). Its Franciscan monks were called Cordeliers because they wore a cord around their monk’s dress. After the French revolution, this convent was swallowed up at the heart of the School of Medicine.

School of Medicine

School of Medicine

The Royal School of Medicine was commissioned by Louis the Fifteenth in 1775, and completed just before the revolution. Since 1953, another huge faculty of medicine situated 800 metres from here has completed this complex.

Luxembourg Palace and Luxembourg Garden

Luxembourg Palace and Luxembourg Garden

This palace was built in 1615 by architect Salomon de Brosse for Queen Marie de Medici, widow of King Henry the Fourth assassinated in 1610. Splendid garden, with terraces, ponds, caves and fountains. The French Senate occupies the Palais du Luxembourg today. The 346 senators who sit in the palace are responsible for examining legislation put forward by the National Assembly.

Odeon Theatre

Odeon Theatre

It was created by King Louis the Fifteenth for the Comédie Française company, namely the official company of the King’s Actors, and inaugurated in 1782. After the revolution, the Comédie Française moved to the Palais-Royal, where it is still today. Rechristened the "Odéon-Theatre of Europe", it now performs works by foreign authors.

School for Mining Engineers

School for Mining Engineers

School for Mining Engineers, a French style "grande école", founded in 1783. Set up here in 1815, in the former Hôtel de Vendôme (1707).

Lycée Montaigne

Lycée Montaigne

"Lycée" - secondary school- opened in 1882, under the name "Little Lycée Louis Le Grand".

Former Colonial School

Former Colonial School

The neo-Moorish building of the former Colonial School from 1911 now houses the Paris headquarters of the E.N.A., a school for civil servants, since E.N.A. was relocated from Paris to Strasbourg.

Faculty of Pharmacy

Faculty of Pharmacy

Built in 1876, the building of the Facukty of Pharmacy is typical of the academic architecture of its age. To the rear, its botanical gardens contain 500 medicinal plant species.

Art and Archaeology Institute

Art and Archaeology Institute

This big red brick building, a mix of neo-Moorish and medieval Siena architecture, dates back to 1925. It was built for the Art and Archaeology Institute thanks to a bequest made by dress designer Jacques Doucet. Today it’s the Art and Archaeology department of the Sorbonne.

Fountain of the Observatory

Fountain of the Observatory

The fountain is part of town planning work carried out by Haussmann and finished in 1872. It is topped by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s famous sculpture "The four parts of the world”, the original of which is in the Orsay Museum. The four characters that form a circle, the African, American Indian, Chinese and European, revolve with the sphere.

Former Val de Grâce Abbey - Val de Grâce Church

Former Val de Grâce Abbey - Val de Grâce Church

The abbey was founded in 1621 by Anne of Austria, wife of Louis the Thirteenth. When she finally fell pregnant after 23 years of marriage, she promised to build a church to Val de Grâce if she delivered a son. The so longed-for son, Louis the Fourteenth, laid, at the age of 7, the first stone of the royal church commissioned to architect François Mansart. The church was finished in 1667. After the revolution the abbey was transformed into a military training hospital, and, in 1979, a modern hospital was built in its gardens at the rear.

Port-Royal Hospital and former Port-Royal Abbey

Port-Royal Hospital and former Port-Royal Abbey

Port-Royal hospital replaced Port-Royal abbey, built in 1625. In the 17th century, Port-Royal abbey was the central seat of Jansenism, a religious movement that opposed that of the Jesuits and was supported by writer Blaise Pascal. The pope condemned the Jansenist abbey and Louis the Fourteenth ordered it to be demolished in 1710.

Cochin Hospital

Cochin Hospital

The hospital is the descendant of a hospice created in 1780 by Cochin, a parish priest. The brick building dates back to 1904-1907. Inside the hospital, the Cochin Institute employs 600 researchers specialising in biology and genetics.

Cassini Street

Cassini Street

Cassini Street is a change of scenery, a foretaste of the artists’ Montparnasse, with its original artists’ houses from the 1900’s.

House of the Fountain Engineers

House of the Fountain Engineers

This house, situated on Marie de Medici’s aqueduct, accommodated its hydraulic and fountain engineers. In the basement, a big reservoir supplied the Luxembourg Garden and the public fountains with water. It stopped its activity in 1874, following the commissioning of the Montsouris reservoirs, but the basin still exists and can be visited during Heritage Days.

Paris Observatory

Paris Observatory

Its foundation was decided in 1667 by Colbert, minister to Louis the Fourteenth. The observatory was built by architect Perrault and astronomer Cassini. Scholars succeeded one another there: in the 18th century, the Cassini family; in the 19th century, astronomer Le Verrier discovered the planet Neptune, Arago brought science into general use, Foucault carried out the experiment with a pendulum and also calculated the speed of light. The Paris Observatory is the oldest observatory in the world still in operation.

Lycée Lavoisier

Lycée Lavoisier

Lycée - a secondary school - built in 1872.

Ecole Normale Supérieure

Ecole Normale Supérieure

The aim of this school founded in 1794 and set up here in 1847 is to “teach educated citizens the art of teaching”. Its high-level training prepares future researchers and teachers of secondary school, university and Grandes Écoles. It is next the laboratory where Pasteur worked for 30 years and invented the vaccine against rabies in 1885.

School for Decorative Arts

School for Decorative Arts

The school is the descendant of the Royal School for Drawing, founded by Louis the Fifteenth in 1767. It was set up here in 1969. Artists like Rodin, Carpeaux, Hector Guimard, Jean-Paul Goude and numerous talented contemporary designers were educated in this school.

Curie Institute

Curie Institute

Marie Curie, 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics winner with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel, created this institute to fight cancer. After Pierre’s death, she continued to study radium and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911. She managed this huge laboratory up until her death in 1934, assisted by her daughter and son-in-law Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, in turn Nobel Prize for Chemistry winners in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity.

Rampart of Philip August

Rampart of Philip August

It was constructed by King Philip August in 1190. That solid rampart 3 metres wide and 10 metres high defended Paris.

Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet Church

Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet Church

Partly named after the chardons or thistles that bloomed all around here in the past. It became Paris’s fiefdom of the traditionalist catholic movement.

Collège des Bernardins

Collège des Bernardins

Vestige of a Cistercian abbey built in 1248 by the monks of Clairvaux (Burgundy). Its teaching lasted four centuries. It closed with the revolution and was destroyed when Haussmann opened the Boulevard Saint-Germain. This building is the monks’ former residence. The Diocese of Paris bought it and restored it in 2008.

Pontoise Swimming-pool

Pontoise Swimming-pool

It is a wonderful example of sports architecture of the 1930’s, with its two floors of indoor balconies, its rows of blue and white cubicles and its glass ceiling letting natural light through. Commandant Cousteau practised his first trial dives in deep-sea diving suits here in 1936.

Arabic World Institute

Arabic World Institute

Recognizable through its curbed glass façade and its moucharabieh work. It was designed by architect Jean Nouvel in 1988.

Tournelle Bridge - Statue of Sainte-Geneviève

Tournelle Bridge - Statue of Sainte-Geneviève

Built between 1924 and 1928. Standing to attention on the Tournelle Bridge, the statue of Sainte-Geneviève, a patron saint of Paris, is a work created by Paul Landowski in 1928 (author of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ). Here is a marvellous viewpoint of Paris: the Seine with the île de la Cité and the flamboyant gothic Notre Dame Cathedral apse as its backdrop.

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