Lycée Saint-Louis

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Lycée Saint-Louis
Logo Lycée Saint Louis 2.png
Lycée Saint-Louis, 44 boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris 6e 2.jpg

75006 Paris

Coordinates48°50′58″N 2°20′29″E / 48.84944°N 2.34139°E / 48.84944; 2.34139Coordinates: 48°50′58″N 2°20′29″E / 48.84944°N 2.34139°E / 48.84944; 2.34139
Former names
  • Collège d'Harcourt (1280-1820)
  • Lycée Saint-Louis (1820-present)
TypePublic funded classes préparatoires
Established1280 ; 741 years ago
School districtLatin Quarter
PrincipalMme Basso
Number of students1,416
MascotSaint Louis
West side of the Lycée Saint-Louis, Paris VIe, one of the most famous lycée preparing to the grandes écoles.

The lycée Saint-Louis is a post-secondary school located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, in the Latin Quarter. It is the only public French lycée exclusively dedicated to classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles (CPGE, the preparatory classes for the Grandes Écoles such as Ecole Polytechnique, CentraleSupelec, ESSEC Business School or HEC Paris). It is known for the quality of its teaching and the results it achieves in their intensely competitive entrance examinations (concours). It is widely regarded as one of the best preparatory class in France and one of the most elitist and prestigious along with its neighbours from the Sainte-Geneviève hill the lycée Henri IV and the lycée Louis-Le-Grand.

It is one of a very small group of secondary schools worldwide that can claim to have educated five Nobel laureates. One Fields laureate and one President of France are also alumni.


Collège d'Harcourt

The collège d'Harcourt in a map of 1775.

Until 1820, the lycée Saint-Louis was named Collège d'Harcourt. (Latin: Collegio Harcuriano). At the time of its founding it was meant to be a residence for students of the University of Paris. The Collège d'Harcourt was founded in 1280 by Robert and Raoul d'Harcourt to offer food and lodgings to some forty impoverished students. From the beginning, it was not only a simple residence but also a place of teaching, this activity took more and more importance over time. During the Wars of Religion, it was a Catholic stronghold. As a result, Henri IV confiscated the college's property and dismissed its director. Once peace returned, the king reformed the teaching of the colleges: initially intended to train clerics and academics through theological studies, the college was transformed into an institution where the children of the nobility, Parisian bourgeois and scholarship holders from Normandy studied.

The college started to become very famous in the 16th century, and great names such as Racine, Boileau and Perrault attended it in the 17th and 18th centuries. During these last two centuries. In the 18th century, it was a stronghold of Jansenists and produced several of the philosophes and Encyclopédistes and therefore opposed the influence of the Jesuits in education, whose stronghold was located not far away, at the college of Clermont.

The original building was demolished in 1795 and the present one erected on its site in 1814.

In the course of the 19th century, the lycée was successively a prison, barracks and reformatory.

Lycée Saint-Louis

The lycée in the background on a picture from 1938 taken from the place de la Sorbonne

In 1812, a decree of Napoleon I ordered its reopening according to the plans of J.-B. Guynet, in order to accommodate an imperial lycée. However, it was not until October 1820 that the "Collège Royal Saint-Louis" took over from the former Collège d'Harcourt, and welcomed again boarders in 1823. In 1848, following the revolution, it changed its name to "Lycée Saint-Louis", after being called "Lycée Monge " for several months.

The lycée specialized in scientific education (since 1885, the boarding school only welcomed scientific students) and in classes préparatoires aux Grandes Écoles (established in 1866, the only ones present at the school since the closing of the last high school class in 1969). In 1843, a student from the school won first prize in mathematics for the first time in the concours général. The classes préparatoires aux Grandes Écoles opened in 1866 and allowed students to take the competitive exams for the École polytechnique, the École normale supérieure (in science), Centrale, the École forestière and Saint-Cyr, and were expanded in 1885 to include preparation for the École navale.


The school offers mainly scientific courses including MPSI (Mathematics, Physics, Engineering), PCSI (Physics, Chemistry and Engineering) for the freshmen, and MP (Mathematics, Physics), PC (Physics, Chemistry), PSI (Physics, Engineering) for seniors as well as BCPST (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology). There are also courses that rely heavily on Mathematics and prepare for the highly selective French business schools, they are only intended for students who have completed a scientific Baccalauréat. The lycée Saint-Louis, as its neighbors the lycées Louis-le-Grand and Henri IV, commonly known as "the three Lycées of Sainte-Geneviève hill”, is renowned for its selectivity, the quality of its teaching and its results in the various competitive exams.


The school has a 350 m2 (3,800 sq ft) library (open until 10:15 p.m. for boarders and day students), a mixed dormitory with 356 beds (234 single rooms, 61 double rooms) and a chapel. It also has a cafeteria, in addition to the dining hall, and classrooms are available to students outside of their normal hours of use.

The campus also has sports facilities: a sports field and two multi-sports gymnasiums (ultimate, basketball, volleyball, badminton, etc.), a gym, a billiards room and a climbing wall. Students have two mandatory hours of sports per week and the sports association allows access to its facilities at noon and in the evening.

Notable alumni


  • L'ancien collège d'Harcourt et le lycée Saint-Louis, Bouquet, H.L., Paris, Delalin frères, 1891.
  • Du collège d'Harcourt, 1280, au lycée Saint-Louis, 1980, Fusellier, E., Euvrard, M., Paris, A.P.E. du lycée Saint-Louis, 1980.
  • Septième centenaire !, Humblot, H., in Bulletin d'information de L'association des parents d'élèves du lycée Saint-Louis. 1978/1979.

External links