Refectoire des Cordeliers in Paris

The Refectoire des Cordeliers is a refectory monument in Paris that dates back to the 13th century and is home to temporary exhibitions and theatre productions, plus the Musee Dupuytren Museum dedicated to anatomy.

A bit of history

The monks of a certain order were known as Cordeliers, due to the fact that they wore a rope which encircled their dress and there were many convents called a Couvent des Cordeliers that were constructed all over France.

Unfortunately, many of these have been destroyed over the years, but some have been preserved and turned into museums, cultural centres and even hotels and there was a Couvent des Cordeliers founded in Paris in the 13th century.
Front facade of Refectoire des Cordeliers
Once there were vineyards bordered by the walls of Philippe Auguste, also known as King Philippe II, and it was Saint Louis that offered the brothers of Saint Francis an area of land for the monks of this order to construct an abbey, cloisters, church and refectory, which led to building work of this starting back in around the 1230s and the Refectoire was not finished until 1506.

Yet this convent was not just a place for religion, as the Cordeliers continually expanded and included a school of theology, but in 1789 the whole property was given back to the French state.

The Refectoire des Cordeliers or refectory was then utilised to hold meetings, but then the French state decided to organise a place for the study of medicine and create a school of health, with the final decisions being made by 1795.

The church of the Couvert des Cordeliers Convent was destroyed first, then the remaining buildings except for the refectory were destroyed by 1802 and the school of medicine was established, so all that remains today is the refectory.

About the Refectoire des Cordeliers refectory today

As you can tell, this monument in Paris has a rich history, and in keeping with the theme of medicine it first housed the Musee Dupuytren from 1835, which is a very unusual museum in Paris based around anatomy and medicine, which is connected to the school of medicine and the university called the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie.

The Refectory of the Cordeliers is a fabulous place to discover for anyone interested in architecture that is Gothic in style, and has large windows that pour in natural light, which is undergoing a major renovation project at present and the Musee Dupuytren was moved out in 2016 for this reason.

However, not only can you get to see the outside, on certain days normally you would be able to venture inside, especially when there are temporary exhibitions and events being held, which will be the same scenario once the refectory reopens after the restoration and its project for scholar residences has been completed.

Yet, not only can you discover the Refectoire des Cordeliers historical monument in Paris, it is also the venue for a theatre festival each year, and to enjoy this spectacle you would need to contact the cultural services of the Sorbonne University for more information, on telephone number +33 (0) 1 40 46 32 83, which will be organised again when this refectory reopens.
Grand hall inside Refectoire des Cordeliers
Architecture at Refectoire des Cordeliers

Access to the Refectoire des Cordeliers

The actual rates for entry to the refectory and the temporary exhibitions do vary depending upon what is being hosted at the time, plus this also means that the opening times also vary as well, so if this is a place you would like to visit whilst on holiday in Paris, then it would be worth checking prior.

Now you will find that the Refectoire des Cordeliers refectory monument is actually located in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris close to the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Musee Moyen Age, also close to the Sorbonne.

So when it comes to getting here via public transport, the nearest Metro station is the Odeon stop serving lines 4 and 10, or alternatively to the east you have the Cluny - La Sorbonne stop serving line 10.

But if you are travelling on the RER trains you would need the Saint-Michel - Notre Dame stop serving the RER B and RER C lines, plus this is also a Metro station for the Metro line 4, However, in the opposite direction you have the Luxembourg stop serving the RER B line.

Alternatively, the Paris buses on lines 21, 27, 38, 58, 63, 85, 86 and 87 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N14, N21 and N122 will also get you close by to this historical monument.