Built in 1653 by Cardinal de Richelieu, the impressive La Sorbonne building in Paris’ Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) houses classrooms for several universities, including the University of Paris. In addition to a historic library, the Sorbonne campus—the intellectual heart of the student-filled district—features a chapel and an airy courtyard.
Tours of the original Sorbonne building and grounds are by appointment only, bookable through the University of Paris. They are offered in French only, so the university recommends that visitors who speak foreign languages hire an interpreter.
Daytime Latin Quarter walking tours typically include a walk past the Sorbonne and library buildings, as well as the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris), and the Panthéon; evening tours showcase these landmarks illuminated under the night sky. Themed neighborhood tours range from photography walks to medieval tours for history buffs. Small-group tours are an intimate way to experience the area, while private tours allow you to customize the day’s itinerary according to your interests.
Things to Know Before You Go
- La Sorbonne is ideal for academics, and history and architecture buffs.
- La Sorbonne is often mistaken for a single prestigious university, but the Sorbonne buildings house classrooms for at least seven different schools.
- Round out your trip to the Sorbonne with a stop at iconic Notre Dame and a picnic lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens.
- Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne offers French-language courses on the Sorbonne campus that are popular for extended-stay visitors in Paris.
How to Get There
Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris (the 5th and 6th arrondissements on the left bank of the Seine), La Sorbonne is easily accessible on foot or public transit. The nearest stops are Cluny on buses 63 and 87, and Cluny–La Sorbonne on the metro’s line 10.
When to Get There
While there is no bad time to see the Sorbonne, fall and spring offer a glimpse into the bustling university atmosphere as well as the opportunity to people-watch from the neighborhood’s many cafés.
The University of Paris, housed in the Sorbonne building and others throughout the Latin Quarter, was attended by a handful of influential thinkers, writers, and Parisians. As you stroll through the streets, you’re walking in the footsteps of famed alumni such as theologian Thomas Aquinas, philosophers Roland Barthes and Simone de Beauvoir, painter Edgar Degas, scientists Pierre and Irène Curie, and author and activist Elie Wiesel.