Paris Descartes University owns 62 acres of buildings, some of which are prestigious and classified historic monuments, such as the Sorbonne and the university’s headquarters, located at 12 Rue de l’École de Médecine in Paris’ sixth district. This same site originally housed the Royal Faculty of Surgery.
In 1769, Louis XV commissioned the architect Jacques Gondoin and placed the amphitheater’s “final stone” himself in 1774. This masterpiece of classical Greek architecture, a style that was popular during the end of Louis XV’s reign, became the Faculty of Medicine in the early 19th century. It was expanded from 1875 to 1900 and served as the center of medical training until the 1950s.
The baton was then passed to the New Faculty of Medicine, located on Rue des Saints-Pères. Built in an art deco style atop the site of the former Paris Charity Hospital, the faculty was inaugurated in 1953 by French President Vincent Auriol. The outer walls of the Saints-Pères University Center are decorated with forty-five medallions, each of which is approximately 47 inches across. These sculptures feature subjects ranging from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The main bronze door was created by Paul Lanowski and depicts men and women in a natural setting as well as mythological scenes.
The Faculty of Law, Economics, and Business, located in Malakoff and formerly known as the Institute of Electricity, is one of the few remaining examples of Parisian academic architecture from the 1930s.
The Pharmaceutical Faculty is located on Avenue de l’Observatoire and was originally built between 1877 and 1882, then later expanded several times between 1932 and 1965. The building is an imposing structure that includes the Salle des Actes, a larger recreation of the original 17th-century hall.
Numerous works of art
The university’s headquarters is home to exceptional works of art, including a series of Gobelins tapestries by Charles Le Brun entitled The Four Elements; weapons owned by Louis XIV; a number of paintings by Van Clève, Philippe de Champaigne, Rigaud, Nattier, and Girodet; and marble statues by J. B. Lemoyne and Houdon. The building’s 18th-century architecture, which includes a colonnade, grand stairway, and amphitheater, and beautiful 19th-century additions serve as an elegant backdrop for these works.
Paris Descartes University also hosts several museums. Since 1905, the History of Medicine Museum has been located on the third floor of the university’s headquarters. The collections of the Cabinet of Anatomy, which were compiled during the reign of Louis XV, were the museum’s first pieces. Its exhibits were later expanded through a number of donations and bequests. In addition to an exceptional collection of surgical and physiological instruments, the museum is also home to paintings, engravings, lithographs, tokens, and medals. Refurbished and widely open to the public, this museum has now become a “Research and Higher Education Museum.” Hours: 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed on Thursdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
The Pharmaceutical Faculty is also home to a beautiful collection of faience pots and bronze mortars, which can be viewed at its Medical Materials Museum. This museum is truly one of a kind, and its collections haven’t stopped growing since the 18th century.
Lastly, the historical collections of the Inter-University Health Library are among the three largest in the world. The library includes all kinds of beautiful, original documents on medical and pharmaceutical topics dating back to the 15th century. It provides all researchers and members of the public who are interested in the history of health with an exceptional source of information, both on site and online.