Sorbonne Paris France

Sorbonne Paris France (La Sorbonne) is the common name for the historic university located at Quartier Latin district of Paris.

The name “Sorbonne” comes from Collège de Sorbonne, which was founded by theologian Robert de Sorbon in 1253.

It was one of the first Medieval universities in Paris, with advanced studies in theology its special field.

Originally, Sorbonne was one of the around 70 Medieval universities in the city…

…most of which later became Paris University campuses (including Collège de Sorbonne itself).

Sorbonne Paris France

PHOTO: Sorbonne buildings at Rue des Ecoles, near such Paris tourist attractions as Musée de Cluny and Pantheon.

Sorbonne Universite de Paris France

PHOTO: A closeup of the administrative buildings of University of Paris – Sorbonne. To get to Sorbonne, you can use the Paris Metro, subway line M10, with the closest station at “Cluny – La Sorbonne“.

Paris’ reputation as a “city of lights” comes from many things, including being a 18th century center for “light of knowledge”, during the Age of Enlightenment…

….but Paris had had, in fact, that reputation already by 13th century, when it was the home to over 20,000 students from around the world.

Although best known for its theology department, Sorbonne Paris France was also a pioneer in many other fields, including using technology.

As an example of this, in 1469, Sorbonne installed the France’s first printing press, from the initiative by King Louis XI.

Cardinal de Richelieu, who studied at Sorbonne from 1606 – 1607, became a headmaster of the university from 1622.

To commemorate this legacy, there is today a 1,200-seat “Richelieu” amphitheater in Sorbonne.

During the French Revolution (1789-1799), Collège de Sorbonne was temporarily closed as an independent university, but reopened in 1806 (from orders of Napoleon).

However, the university was closed again (this time for good) as an independent facility in 1882, being merged into the University of Paris.

Not long after being merged into the University of Paris, however, “Sorbonne” became to mean the entire university.

This was partly due to the fact that Collège de Sorbonne buildings were now used by the Paris Academy…

…and as the central campus buildings at the Paris University also had that name (“Paris Academy”), “Sorbonne” became a reference to the entire university, and that tradition remained from 1896-1970.

In 1970, University of Paris was divided into 13 separate universities, all, however, with a joint administration…

…and these administrative offices are located at Collège de Sorbonne buildings.

In fact, 4 out of the 13 universities either have “Sorbonne” in their names, or are closely related to the historical university of Sorbonne:

  • Panthéon-Sorbonne University ( (includes the Sorbonne observatorium),
  • Sorbonne Nouvelle University (
  • Paris-Sorbonne University (
  • Paris Descartes University: Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales – Sorbonne (

Also, all of these four public universities have facilities within Sorbonne buildings at Rue des Ecoles.

Today, sharing the College de Sorbonne buildings are also…

  • Paris University central administration,
  • École Nationale des Chartes,
  • École pratique des hautes études, and
  • Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne.

While what takes place inside the university buildings is important, the structures are also beautiful architectural examples.

The construction style of the buildings is from renovations done by architect Henri-Paul Nénot, from 1884-1901.

Sorbonne Paris France

Address: Université Diderot Paris 7, 75005 Paris, France
Official website:

The interiors of the buildings are available for 1.5 hour guided tours (for groups of 10-30 people)…details of which are available from the official Sorbonne website.

Famous former students at the historical Sorbonne university include such names as…

  • Cardinal de Richelieu, pope Benedict XVI, author Honoré de Balzac,
  • chemists Marie ja Pierre Curie, author Simone de Beauvoir, film director Jean-Luc Godard,
  • first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (née Bouvier), Ignace de Loyola (founder of Jesuits), and
  • philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.