Montpellier is known worldwide for its medical education. The city owes this reputation to its faculty, founded in 1220: the oldest medical school in the Western world still in existence.
Since 1795, the Faculty of Medicine has occupied one of the most beautiful buildings in Montpellier: the former episcopal palace, formerly the Saint Benoit-Saint Germain monastery. A place steeped in history, which hundreds of students now bring to life in the present day...
This building alone is an architectural treasure with its monumental hall, its ceremonial rooms, its main courtyard and its anatomy amphitheatre. This ensemble was listed as a Historic Monument in 2004.
The Faculty of Law and Political Science has been housed in the former Visitation Convent since 1959. Built in 1631 under the reign of Louis XIII, this building is part of the rich heritage of Montpellier's historic centre. It is the only building in the city, along with the Ursuline Convent, to have retained its cloister and chapel in their entirety. These vestiges of its first ecclesiastical vocation bear witness to the intense religious activity that took place in the vicinity of Saint-Pierre Cathedral from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century.
Once past the vast "Aula Placentinea" - the large hall that you encounter when you enter the main entrance of the faculty - you have immediate access to the 17th century cloister. With its cross-vaulted ceiling, it offers a sober, uncluttered elegance.
The legal history library contains rare and precious old volumes, largely devoted to Roman scholarly law, of which the faculty was one of the jewels in the medieval crown.
In 1964, the Montpellier Faculty of Sciences moved from the buildings it occupied on rue de l'Université (where the current rectorate is located) to the new university campus on Place Eugène Bataillon. This construction was part of the Fifth Republic's desire to develop research and to provide higher education institutions with modern premises capable of receiving a growing number of students.
The Ministry of Education chose the technical advisor René Egger for its construction programme. His firm drew up standard plans for French scientific universities but left it to local architects to develop them.
In Montpellier, the architect Philippe Jaulmes chose an airy, wooded site with buildings adapted to the Mediterranean light. He also commissioned works from young artists who are now world-renowned, such as Pierre Parsus, François Rouan, Victor Vasarely and his son Yvaral, Albert Dupin and Yaacov Agam, within the framework of the 1% artistic scheme*. The work was completed in 1967.
* Initiated in 1951, this legal provision institutes the creation of works by contemporary visual artists associated with public architectural creations. Since its inception, the 1% art fund has financed approximately 12,300 works.
In the heart of Montpellier, the Institute of Botany is the guardian of the city's plant garden, the oldest in France. Charles Flahault, an illustrious botanist and director of the institute, supervised the construction of the buildings in 1889. The premises were inaugurated in April 1890 and visited in May by Sadi Carnot, President of the French Republic, during the university's 6th centenary. After 50 years of operation, the building was renovated and extended; the new buildings were inaugurated in 1959.
The Institute of Botany enabled Charles Flahault to bring together all of Montpellier's herbariums in one place. Today, it houses a treasure within its venerable walls: the prestigious Montpellier herbarium, the second largest herbarium in France after that of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in terms of the volume and quality of its collections. A research tool as well as a heritage tool, the Montpellier herbarium contains around 3.5 million plant samples.
At the end of the 19th century, the coastline of Sète was considered a very rich zoological complex. To simplify the weekly zoological excursions and facilitate research, the zoology professor Armand Sabatier decided to found a marine biology station there.
In 1879, the city of Sète provided him with modest premises. Shortly afterwards, he obtained a plot of land on the shore of the Etang de Thau for the construction of the zoological station. Inaugurated in 1896, it included all the services necessary for research and teaching.
With its rich collections gathered in a zoological museum including numerous ichthyological (fish) and conchyliological (shell mollusc) samples, the marine biology station of Sète acquired an international reputation. After a century of existence and important restorations of the buildings, it remains an active centre of scientific research.