Port Royal Cloister

April 26, 2011By Louis FraysseSecret Paris

The Silence of the Cloister

The former abbey is now part of Paris’s Hôpital Cochin. Photo: Louis Fraysse

The 17th-century Port Royal Cloister on Paris’s Left Bank was once the heart of the Port-Royal Abbey, which had a rich yet troubled history as the stronghold of Jansenism, a 17th-century Catholic theology that was condemned as heresy in 1655 and bitterly opposed by Louis XIV. Its mother abbey, Port-Royal-des-Champs, was razed in 1710. Philosophers Blaise Pascal and Antoine Arnauld, and dramatist Jean Racine all stayed in the abbey, which was closed down during the French Revolution then briefly used as a prison before becoming a public hospital in 1795. The cloister has been a listed historical monument since 1931. Today, it is part of the Hôpital Cochin and the Faculté de Médecine Paris-Descartes, and anyone can enter and enjoy the silence of the cloister, located at 123, bd de Port-Royal, 75014 Paris (RER: Port-Royal or Métro: Vavin).

Editor’s note: read David Jaggard on the Port Royal Cloister here.


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