Architectural heritage

Inauguration Patrimoine du XXe siècle

Unveiling of the 20TH CENTURY HERITAGE label plaque at the Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 campus and launch of the book: the campus of the Montpellier Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, an architectural and artistic creation of the 1960s published by the Regional Department of Cultural Affairs in the DUO - Monuments - Objects collection.

The "20th Century Heritage" label was created in 1999 by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, as part of a series of actions in favour of the century’s architectural and urban heritage.

The aim of the label is to raise public awareness on the remarkable productions of this period, all of great heritage interest as witnesses of the technical, economic, social, political and cultural evolutions of society. The label is awarded by the regional prefect, following examination by the Regional Commission for Heritage and Sites. The label is represented by a nameplate, with a logo designed by Patrick Rubin, from the Canal Agency.


20th century architectural heritage

Located at the heart of Montpellier "campus", Paul-Valéry is set in an audacious, contemporary architectural ensemble, labelled "Architectural Heritage of the 20th century” (in 2001). Mediterranean vegetation, water and stone blend with the works of art that embellish the various parks and patios of the buildings, and enhance places of exchange, creation and expression, such as the Library of Letters, the Museum of Mouldings, La Vignette Theatre or Students' House.

Extract from the study by Jean-Paul Midant - Studies and Advice for the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (March 2012)

Paul-Valéry site

The 7 heritage assets of Paul-Valéry University (route de Mende site)

  • The compact, user-friendly campus was established in the early 1960s without any major alterations since this time.
  • Organised around a main street interspersed with small squares, a public garden on the outskirts and a war memorial, the campus has a village-like feel about it, with rest areas, pools, fountains and shady benches, for study, conversation and exchange.
  • The campus hosts the Museum of Mouldings, unique in 1960s-built French university campuses.
  • A 20th Century Heritage site labelled in 2011, the entire campus is recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication for the quality of its urban, architectural and landscape assets.
  • Albert Dupin's great wall, a popular, much-loved artwork, serves as a backdrop for a public lawn-garden, very popular with students.
  • There are also two secondary gardens with very different atmospheres: the labyrinth garden and the inner garden of the administrative building, opening onto the cafeteria.
  • Ingenious artistic and decorative construction solutions were implemented to compensate the lack of funding which plagued the site between 1963 and 1966, particularly visible through the diversity and contrast of industrial materials used, sometimes diverted from their usual uses.

9 remarkable buildings and architectural and landscape ensembles:

  • Museum of Mouldings and archaeology building
  • Azalaïs de Portiragnes building A
  • Les Guilhem administrative building
  • Ramon Llull Library
  • Joe Bousquet and C Jean Cocteau buildings B
  • Central alley
  • Wooded park
  • Tropical garden of the administrative building Les Guilhem
  • Patios of the museum and archaeology building


Saint-Charles site

  • Saint-Charles: a site dedicated to the development of research (Albert 1er)

Paul-Valéry University has built a strong identity for itself in the LLASHS field where Letters, Languages, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences mutually enrich each other in true humanistic tradition.

This tradition, combined with the core values of citizenship and responsibility, defended by the University, is the basis of an open research policy on the Humanities, and the ground stone of tomorrow's society. Scientific innovation and the Classics, favour knowledge production, particularly in the artistic, cultural and technological fields.

The quality of the scientific output of our researchers and professor-researchers was praised by the Research Evaluation Agency (AERES) in 2009, ranking close to 74% in A or A+ classified teams.

For PVU, development of doctoral training and the mobility of doctoral students are key priorities. Our two PhD schools play an important role in strengthening the link between research, training and the integration of our doctoral students by giving them tools to manage their professional future through a comprehensive scientific, methodological and professional training programme.


Saint-Charles: from 17th century hospital to 21st century university, listed in the supplementary inventory of historical monuments

The hospital was initially a refuge for the poor and homeless. The clergy managed the site as a charitable duty, but also to spread Catholic practices. The poor were instructed here in Christian teachings, trained in the practices of piety and engaged in trades and crafts, from which they drew subsistence.

In 1678, Louis XIV founded the General Hospital of Montpellier, by patent. Throughout the Kingdom, similar measures were taken for the confinement of the destitute and care for foundlings, in order to better control the vagrant population and maintain public order.

Montpellier General Hospital is built on the former Carmelite enclosure, near one of the city's busiest gates. In 1679, the Bishop of Montpellier entrusted the design and construction of the building to architect, Antoine Armand.

The buildings were erected between 1680 and 1750. The establishment was inaugurated in March 1682, while it was still a vast construction site.


Saint-Charles: a former hospital converted into a university campus, a daring challenge taken up by architectural firm, HELLIN-SEBBAG ASSOCIÉS

The first phase of the rehabilitation work concerned the site’s main building, or former General Hospital, built in the 17th century. Work was organised around two courtyards located on either side of a symmetric axis, materialised by a thick wall, separating the "men's wing" from the "women's wing".
While maintaining geometrical purity, the choice was therefore made to "pierce" the central wall, in order to establish the fluidity necessary for the smooth running of a modern university site hosting 1,500 people, and to create thoroughfares in the central body of the building: the cafeteria on the ground floor (managed by the CROUS), the research administrative services on the 1st floor and the research library on the 2nd floor.

Once the central body of the building was refurbished, the new hall was logically placed here, with its splendid monumental staircase in white prefabricated concrete, unfolding into a void on three floors, symmetrically serving the entire facility. The Saint-Charles site, directly adjacent to the historic city-centre of Montpellier and initially accessible from Place Albert 1er, is now also open on the opposite side, near the tramway station on Rue Henri Serres, in the direction of Paul Valery campus.
The landscaped esplanade leading to the building is bordered by an 18th century architectural ensemble, the Incurables Wing, (renovation planned as part of a second phase), and will eventually be extended as a vast arcade along the axis of the entrance hall (a new building as part of the third phase of work).

In addition to work described above on the main body of the central building, architects decided to revive the regular rhythm of framed bays and horizontal mouldings, for the city-facing façades. 
The chestnut and plane tree courtyard façades have been restored to their original layout, the ground floor openings giving directly onto the courtyard, and upstairs onto new passageways, supported by light metal brackets embedded in the stone façades and protected by railings and a glass canopy.

The façade towards the esplanade, severely damaged by various 20th century additions, is more contemporary in style, with a glass curtain wall for enhanced natural brightness in the central hall and library.


Du Guesclin site (Béziers)

Architect: Thierry Lissandre (in partnership with MPM archi)

Inaugurated in 1998, the Beziers campus is a human-sized, 4,057m² site, with modern infrastructure, and fully accessible to persons with reduced mobility. The campus is functional, clean and comfortable, and well adapted to teaching, whether lectures, tutorials or IT workshops.


Operation Campus

Following a call for projects launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Research and Higher Education for major French university cities, PRES-UMSF application was selected as one of France’s first 6 "Campus Operations". This candidacy, led by the three Universities of Montpellier and Montpellier SupAgro, was strongly supported by Languedoc-Roussillon Region, the Hérault Department, Montpellier Metropole and the City of Montpellier, and received a total allocation of €325 million (May 2009).

As part of Campus Operation, Paul-Valéry University is rethinking campus life on its main site, with the ATRIUM programme (with a hosting platform, independent working space, documentary and computer resources), and the gradual implementation of a master plan, for planning and sustainable development that is currently under study.

The ATRIUM project
A master plan for sustainable planning and development

For further information 




Last updated : 18/12/2023