In the early 13th century, the Abbot of Clairvaux decided to found a school to train Cistercian Monks (also known as Bernardine Monks), which would also allow them to benefit from a university education through the Sorbonne. Despite having been used as a prison and a fire station through the centuries, today it has resumed its original purpose and it’s being used as a “cathedral school”.
The building was subject to costly, state-funded renovations from 2004 to 2008, and you can now freely visit the ground floor, but in order to visit the inner courtyard, you’ll have to go on a guided tour (6€) which take place daily at 16:00.
Upon entering, you will see photos of before and after the renovation work. Take a seat at the college cafe and contemplate the peaceful regularity of the columns in the nave.
On the far right end as you enter, you’ll find the sacristy which is currently hosting an exhibition by Edgar Sarin, an artist of engineering background from Marseille. Every week, Sarin works in the sacristy with a handful of select members of the public to perform a “procedure”, which is performed behind closed doors, and will continue to evolve the exhibition as time goes on.
I’m sure that if you visit in the coming weeks, the sacristy will look quite different to the photo here!