Les Récollets

The Récollets convent is a key landmark of the 10th arrondissement that has kept pace with the passing years since the 17th century by undergoing constant facelifts.
Erected in 1603, it was first home to the Récollets Friars Minor community, a Franciscan order of monks who advocated brotherhood, the duty to be joyful in the community and the universal spirit.

The convent was abandoned by the friars when they left to proclaim the good news in Canada and in 1802 it became a hospice for the incurably ill.

In 1862, it became the St. Martin military hospital and then in 1913, the Jean Antoine de Villemin hospital.
In 1980, it was home to a unit of the Paris-Villemin architectural school.

Between 1990 and 1996, the artists’ squat known as ‘Les anges des Récollets’ added a new dimension to the Récollets site. The artists were supported by an Association and residents group representing the 10th arrondissement, and already began promoting the relationship between art and science.
A fire put an end to their residency and the Ministry for infrastructures and amenities launched a call for projects for the future destiny of the building.

Thus an edifice that had been disfigured by the imperatives of the local town planning project, the Gare de l’Est development, and the ravages of two world wars passed into the hand of RIVP under the terms of a long-term lease in March 2001.

A plan to create a culturally-oriented international residence scooped the tender over the other, purely commercial, proposals.

The chosen plan was more in keeping with the needs of local associations mobilized for the purpose of safeguarding the building and its function. It thus helped rescue from the threat of destruction a piece of heritage that had been painstakingly saved by architect Frédéric Vincendon working for the Reichen et Robert firm of architects. The residency project was supplemented by cultural space redevelopment plans to open links between the site and the 10th arrondissement district.

These spaces were entrusted to the Ile de France Order of Architects Council, who, backed by the support of the Maison de l’architecture association, was able to inject new life into the former Récollets chapel.

The Récollets international reception and exchange centre opened its doors in July 2003, and still proudly bears the traces of the passing centuries.