This part of the Latin Quarter, south of the Pantheon (see previous posts), is in general less visited than the “Sorbonne area”, unless you are a scientific, professor, student… This is where you find a number of what is referred to as “Grandes Ecoles”, higher education establishments, normally requiring a selection based on written and / or oral exams, whereas the basic university system is open to all candidates. The Latin Quarter of course got its name from the Latin language which was the one in common use among scholars when the university activities started during the 13th century.
I have had the privilege to visit this area with some members of an association which offers what they call “Parcours des Sciences” (scientific circuits) – see here.
I will talk about a few of these schools. You can see where they are located and compare with a map from 1901. Many have been rebuilt, extended, since then, there are some new streets....
The first establishment referred to as “Grande Ecole”, “Ecole Normale Supérieure”, was created during the post-revolutionary years, in 1794. Over the entrance of the 19th century building, you can read “9 Brumarie an III”, which corresponds to October 30, 1794, in the non-religious Republican Calendar, which was in use 1793-1805. Behind the main building is a large and peaceful garden. The principal goal of this school is to train elite professors, researchers, public administrators… so far some 13 Nobel Prize winners, some Prime Ministers…
One of the students was Louis Pasteur before later directing it and also doing a lot of his research here. There is a specific Pasteur pavilion, where you can visit his office (nicely decorated much later). We can see a photo where he is together with some children under treatment. (It was much later that the Pasteur Institute, on which I posted here, was created.)
The next school I will talk about has a long name, “Ecole Municpale de Physique et de Chimie”, better known in it abbreviation ESPCI. It was created by the City of Paris, when a previous leading school in physics and chemistry, situated in Strasbourg, was lost during the French-Prussian war (1870-71). The present buildings are from the 1930’s and on the map higher up in this article, you can see how the area has been transformed.
I have added a little yellow rectangle to show where the brothers Pierre and Jacques Curie, later joined by Marie, had their laboratory and worked with uranium, discovered polonium, radium… In 1903, Pierre and Marie received their Physics Nobel Prize. Pierre died accidentally in 1906. Marie continued and received her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. There have been other Nobel Prize winners from this school, among them Frédéric Jolliot-Curie, who shared his prize with his wife Irène, one of the daughters of Pierre and Marie.
We find especially Marie Curie again, when we visit the “Campus Pierre et Marie Curie”. The campus houses a lot of schools and institutes. The first buildings on the campus were built during the years preceding WWI on grounds which previously were occupied by a convent.
Marie worked here until her death in 1934, together with her daughter Irène and Frédéric Jolliot-Curie among others. Many other institutions now occupy the campus. For security reasons you are not allowed any photos on the campus, but I took the liberty to show the busts of Pierre and Marie, which you can find in a little garden.
There are of course a number of plaques and references to the famous Curie-couple and the front street of the campus took its name from them. However, it should be mentioned that Marie’s name was added to the street name only in 1967.
One remarkable building on the Campus is the “Institut Océanographique”, created by Prince Albert of Monaco in 1911.
Here are some other photos of school buildings, taken during my walks.
There are some really old buildings in the area. You can read the street names – which sometimes have changed – encrusted on the walls.
To finish this long post, just a few photos from the area, well worth a visit for its beauty, some cafés, one of Paris’ oldest cinemas…