bus lines – no.88 arriving from avenue René Coty runs along
the western side of Parc Montsouris as far as boulevard Jourdan while
no.21 goes up the eastern side and follows the rue Gazan. Both RER ‘B’
(Cité Universitaire station) and Tramway 3 stop right in front of the main entrance. Allow roughly two hours on foot.The grounds
are open to the public from 7 a.m until 10 p.m.
the blood-bath of the first world war, the Cité’s founders
wanted to establish a location where students from all over the world
could be housed and encouraged to mix thus helping to strengthen
international relations and world peace. To accomplish this, the
intake of each hall of residence was (and still is) to include a minimum of 30% of
students from countries other than its own. So as to avoid any
religious bias, there are no places of worship on the campus. There
are, however, tennis courts, playing fields, indoor sporting
facilities and a swimming pool. Other meeting places are the on-site
theatre and restaurant. There are no classrooms.
on boulevard Jourdan on the site of the ramparts built by Thiers
between 1840 and 1845 and which encircled Paris between what are
today the “boulevards des Maréchaux” (named after
Napoléon’s field-marshals) and the “boulevard
Périphérique” (ring road).These ramparts proved useless and
presented a danger (during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 they had
helped the enemy to besiege the city and then benefited the
“Communards” in 1871). It was decided to demolish them in 1920.
The land thus made available was given over to social housing and
community projects such as schools, stadiums, churches, cemeteries
and parks – and the Cité Internationale Universitaire de
Paris, called "Cité U". The choice of a location opposite the Parc Montsouris
(fortresses 81,82 and 83) was all the more practiacl as a station on
the “ligne de Sceaux” (now RER B) was opened in 1932 thus putting
the Cité within easy reach of the Latin Quarter, the hub of
university life in Paris.
The entrance framed by a gateway is imposing and welcoming without being
pompous. On either side are twin gatehouses in pseudo-Louis XIII
style. The one on the left houses the administrative offices while
the one on the right is the Honnorat hall of residence. Set further
back is the Maison Internationale (financed by David Rockefeller in
1935) inspired by the palace at Fontainebleau. The east wing (on the
left) houses the theatre and swimming pool and the west wing (on the
right) is the Robert Garric hall of residence.
are 37 halls spread over 34 hectares (84 acres) of grounds some of which were
swallowed up in the 50s when the ring road was being built. They can
accommodate up to 5600 students and research staff as well as
be used for hosting conferences. Four of them are listed historic
buildings – the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe with its 7
pavilions, the Swiss, Brazilian and Dutch buildings.
Like so much of the Cité (which would never have got underway
without a very substantial donation from the Deutsch de la Meurthe
family), most of the halls were largely if not wholly financed by
benefactors. The first wave of building took place between 1925 and
1937 with another after the second world war – 1949 - 1969.
Cité has not been left unscathed by events. The Armenian hall
was designed to alleviate the effects of the diaspora, the South East
Asia hall was originally named after Indochina (at that time part of the
French colonial empire). Germany and Italy only built theirs after the
second world war. Neither Russia, China nor Central Europe are represented.
The Cambodian hall was closed in 1973 due to political upheaval and
only reopened in 2003. The Iranian hall was abandoned after the
Islamic revolution and is now the Avicienna foundation and is managed
by the Cité itself as is the Cuba building.
de Grancher n°38 on the map
for Cuban students and opened in 1932. The architect was Albert
Laprade who made a better job of the Musée des Colonies at the
1931 French Colonial Exhibition (now the Museum of Immigration) avenue Daumesnil.
The main door has faint echoes of Spanish Baroque style.
in 1930. The architect Léon Nafylian (see also square Alboni and rue Raynouard under
façades/other façades) was inspired by his home country’s religious architecture. The
ornate animal frieze on the front is well worth seeing.
(largely a French colony at the time) seen through the eyes of two French
architects a year before the Colonial Exhibition of 1931. They were
also to design the Great Britain hall of residence in a vaguely 16th
century British style.
last to be opened in 1969, this is the most ground-breaking of all
the Cité buildings thanks to its highly original design: three
40m. high arches which form the framework of a somewhat off-beat
suspended metallic structure. It’s a pity that all this is topped
off by an illuminated hoarding aimed at drivers on the ring road
(air-brushed out in the picture). It has now been re-named “Avicenne”
after the Iranian philosopher and physician who was a link between
eastern and western culture.
second of Le Corbusier’s designs (1953) for the Cité (the
first being the 1933 Swiss pavilion). Unfortunately, it foreshadows
the blocks which mushroomed in the Paris suburbs in the 60s and
70s and which are now abhorred.
striking contrast with the South East Asia hall. By
the time it was opened (1957), France had left Indo-china thus making
references to an exotic colonial style out-of-date. Nonetheless,
there are hints of the Angkor Wat temples at ground level.
Deutsch de la Meurthe n°31
is made up of six pavilions grouped around a central bell-tower. This
was the first block to be built (1925) and evokes the colleges of
Oxford and Cambridge. Its architect, Lucien Bechmann, later
designed the two entrance pavilions with their colonnade, the “Maison
Internationale” and, in 1950, the Victor Lyon hall.
in 1932. Designed by the Paris-trained architect Nicolas Zahos,it shows the influence of ancient Greek temples. A reminder that
these were painted can be seen in the frieze which incorporates the
names of illustrious Hellenes. The owl over the entrance was
the symbol of Athena, goddess of wisdom.
describes the Italian pavilion as it combines all that is best in the
Italian architectural tradition – unfussy and with elegant
intended for students from France’s overseas “possessions”, it
was re-named Lucien Paye in 1972. It shares the same architect,
Albert Laprade, as the Abreu de Grancher and Morocco halls and is the only building in the
Cité to have a copper roof.
Laprade design for a country where he had lived before the second
world war. The main entrance on boulevard Jourdan, the glazed tiles (rare
in Paris) and the courtyard are all of Moorish inspiration.
in 1927 by Willem Dudok (who contributed to De Stijl alongside
Mondrian and Van Doesburg) and started in1929 but was not completed
until 1938 on account of the depression. Its severity of line and
volume can best be appreciated from outside the Cité with the
Porte d’Orléans behind you.
its 320 bedrooms, this is the largest building on the campus and was designed by Armand Guéritte who had already been responsible for the Belgian hall.
Scandinavia n°8, 5 and 10
being built at different times, the three halls (Denmark n°8, Norway n°5 and
Sweden n°10) are close together and each hints at traditional Scandinavian
styles. The blue of the shutters is that of the Swedish flag and coat
of the most famous and successful buildings here, it’s architect
was Le Corbusier who studiously ignored any reference to Swiss
“Professional” houses n°13, 6 and 30
pavilions are linked to professions and not countries. Farming at Institut National Agronomique (n°13) a superb, recently renovated, art deco building; Agro-Business at maison des Industries Agro-alimentaires (n°6), elegantly simple (1956) and Engineering at maison des élèves-ingénieurs des Arts et Métiers (n°30) which has two buildings the first of which dates from 1950 and
the second, on the other side of the ring road, from 1961. A walkway
over the ring road links the two and the use of identical materials
, Argentina (n°25) designed by three architects (two
Argentine and one French)) in the style of an “estancia” in the
Pampas, Belgium and Luxembourg (n°16), Canada (n°28)
and Spain (n°12) which is approached through a selection of bronzes from the
Reina Sofia museum in Madrid.
Great Britain (n°15 ”Tudorbethan” style by the same architect as S-E Asia),
India (n°3) which is a rather dull affair, Lebanon (n°17) with one Mondrian-like
pavilion, Monaco (n°36 very conventional but not lacking in elegance),Portugal (n°1 residence André de Gouveia, a 16th
century Portuguese humanist who was also Rector of the Sorbonne) with
a particularly original entrance, Tunisia (n°34) by far the least
interesting of all the houses and, lastly, Victor Lyon (n°27).
Called "espace ouest" (n°33) and "espace sud" (n°14), they were built in 1930 and 1966 as restaurants, the former by Albert Laprade. Today they are used as in-door sport facilities.
And to round off your tour
Itineraries / around parc de Montsouris
also the Cité’s website: www.ciup.fr next page>