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. The building is beautifully modest, and I find that it’s a very peaceful haven for a little break in the lively 5e arrondissement.
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 old sacristy (which you can enter for free).
The college also occasionally hosts concerts. Keep an eye out for the upcoming events here!