History of the Hôtel des 3 Collèges

For the Romans, the heart of the city was considered to be the crossing point between two principle streets: a north-south axis called cardo and an east-west axis called decumanus. The center of Lutetia (the Roman name for Paris) was at the junction of Rue Saint-Jacques (the ancient city's cardo) and Rue Cujas (the main decumanus).

The Hôtel des 3 Collèges is therefore located at the very historical center of Paris.

The forum was the political center of Lutetia and was situated on what is currently Rue Soufflot, between Rue Cujas and Rue Malebranche. Clovis, King of the Franks, and Sainte-Geneviève, Patron Saint of Paris, were buried on Mount Sainte-Geneviève.


Paris map

Rue Saint-Jacques is the oldest street in Paris. The pilgrims on the St. James' Way (chemin de Saint-Jacques) used to take this road, stopping off at the Saint-Jacques hospice. The first Preaching Friars settled down in this house in 1218 and soon adopted the name of Jacobins in tribute to Saint-Jacques (St. James). The Jacobins monastery was situated in the block between Rue Saint-Jacques, Rue Soufflot, Rue Victor-Cousin and Rue Cujas. Its church contained the body, heart and organs of 22 princes and princesses of royal blood.

Present-day Rue Cujas is located on the former Passage des Jacobins built through the monastery building after it was closed in 1790. At the exact location of the Hôtel des 3 Collèges was the Cluny College, one of the first colleges of France.

Cluny college

Cluny college

This watercolour represents Cluny College on the corner of Rue de Cluny (Rue Victor-Cousin) and Rue des Grès (Rue Cujas) circa 1848.

Jacques Cujas In 1865 the street was named after Jacques Cujas (1520-1590), a jurisconsult and Roman law exegete who was knowned as the "prince of Romanists". Recognized as the precursor to modern law, Cujas taught during the reigns of Charles IX and Henri III.
The hotel is at the corner of the former Rue de Cluny, renamed in 1864 to pay tribute to the philosopher Victor Cousin (1792-1867), Sorbonne professor, Academician, director of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and State Education Minister. Victor Cousin introduced the history of philosophy to France. Victor Cousin