Collège des Bernardins is my favorite lost and found place. One night a couple of years ago we were riding velib’ at night near this monumental medieval building that was hard not to notice. And there was a party! We could see these phantasmagoric disco lights and hear sounds of laughter mixed with A-ha singles from the stained-glass windows. Seriously! I still don’t know why we didn’t join. And then the night was over and the magical castle was never found again… until this autumn.
The college of Bernardines or College Saint-Bernard is a former Cistercian college of the historic University of Paris. It was founded by Stephen of Lexington, English monk, abbot of Clairvaux, and built from 1248 with the encouragement of Pope Innocent IV. The college used to be a residence of Cistercian monks that were students at the University of Paris until the French Revolution.
In 1790 the college was confiscated by the revolutionaries and became national property. The few remaining monks were driven out. The buildings were sold to the city of Paris and then used as salt warehouse; a school; a fire station.
In 2001 the building was redeemed by the diocese of Paris. Seven and a half centuries after its foundation, Collège des Bernardins has returned to its original purpose: “to be a place of knowledge and faith in the heart of the city, and to renew a dialogue between Christian wisdom and society”.
Nowadays Collège des Bernardins is focused on three main areas:
- Research – the Research Center incdusdes six departments dedicating their work to a “deep reflection about humanity and the spiritual scope of existence”;
- Teaching – public lectures at the Ecole Cathédrale and the more specific philosophical and theological teachings of the Notre Dame Faculty;
- Events and Culture – exhibitions of contemporary art, music evenings, performances, activities for young people, lectures and debates, seminars and conferences, cinema.
Official website: Collège des Bernardins
Address: 20 rue de Poissy, 75005 Paris.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 10:00 am-6:00 pm; Sun: 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm.