The Refectory of Saint-Germain des Prés, 1239 – c. 1244

Gabriela Chitwood



In 1227, Abbot Eudes began to reconstruct the cloister and its attendant structures. Construction of the refectory began in 1239 and was completed in 1244. The building is attributed to Pierre de Montreuil, who would construct the Lady Chapel beginning in 1245. During the Revolution, the refectory served as a prison and saltpeter production site. Although the church was saved, the land around it was sold to Doctor Salbrune, who dismantled the cloister and its buildings, preserving some of the fragments to build a medieval themed house in the area. Many of the fragments are assumed to be from the Lady Chapel, resulting in there being very few definitive fragments from the refectory itself. A new road, the present rue de l’Abbaye, was pierced right down the axes of both the refectory and the Lady Chapel.The Refectory ReconstructionThis reconstruction aims to present an archeologically accurate replica of the refectory–  to the degree that this is possible. We have based this replica on the sources listed below. Hypotheticals have been noted in the model.The refectory, which was constructed along the north side of the cloister, had eight bays. The refectory’s portal was in that shared side of the cloister, and therefore, the Childebert statue was located there. The refectory reconstruction includes a rectangular niche in the second bay of the north-facing wall for a pulpit from which scripture was read during meals. Although none of the elevation drawings of the refectory’s interior illustrate the pulpit, a floorplan from Statistique Monumental, an elevation from Monasticon Galliacanum, and floorplans and elevations from Bouillart emphasize the uniqueness of the second bay by representing it as pulled out beyond the primary wall and by capping it with gables. Given that Saint Martin des Champs’s refectory includes a pulpit in the same bay, it seems reasonable to conclude that the refectory of Saint-Germain des Prés also had a pulpit. 


  • Bouillart, Dom J., Histoire de l’abbaye royale de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris: G. Dupuis, 1724).
  • Branner, R. Saint Louis and the Court Style in Gothic Architecture (London: Zwemmer, 1965).
  • Christ, Y., Églises parisiennes actuelles et disparues (Paris: Éditions Tel, 1947).
  • Lefèvre-Pontalis, E., “Etude historique et archéologique sur l’église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Congrès archéologique (session tenu à Paris en 1919) 82 (1920): 301-67.
  • Moulin, J., and P. Ponsot, “La chapelle de la Vierge à l’abbaye Saint-Germain des Prés,” Archéologia 115 (1980): 48-55.
  • Murray, S. “The Architectural Envelope of the Sainte‑Chapelle of Paris,” in Pierre, lumière, couleur. Etudes d’histoire de l’art du Moyen Âge en l’honneur d’Anne Prache, ed. F. Joubert and D. Sandron, Cultures et Civilisations Médiévales 20 (Paris: Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 1999), 223-30.
  • Anne Prache, “Un architecte du XIIIe siècle et son oeuvre: Pierre de Montreuil,” Dossiers d’histoire et archéologie 47 (1980): 26-38.