Charming old buildings
The Institute is located in the city-center, in an elegant building built in 1884. Before it became the Institute as we know it, it was for many years the training school (École Normale) for young women aspiring to become schoolteachers. The very structure of the building, with its ‘Covent style' including its three cloisters of white stone, is a symbol of how the third republic was training its so-called “Black hussars” (the schoolteachers) to struggle against the influence of the clergy, combining conflict and imitation tactics.
These buildings, with their rich historical dimension, offer an attractive space in which students are invited to work and study, situated in the immediate neighborhood of the busiest part of the city.
With such a location, students can get the most out of the social and cultural life of a big student city (more than 60,000 students). Rennes is regularly named as the most pleasant city in France for young people to live in.
The real trademark of the Institute comes from its three cloisters. The biggest, called “cour d'honneur” is the hub of its day to day life. Students gather there between courses and tutorials. It is a welcoming place in which they can chat, socialize or rest on the lawn in the summertime. Students mingle with professors and members of staff. Major administrative services are located there, including the library, the student services (scolarité and the computer rooms).
The north cloister, located near the student's club and associations' office is the ideal place to have coffee, whilst working on the outdoor tables in the bright light of spring. As for the south cloister, it has dramatically shrunk with the expansion of the library buildings. However students are still able to enjoy its atmosphere for a quick break between lectures.
The old buildings, which dated from the 19th century, were not big enough for the one thousand students hosted by the Institute (800 following the five-year diploma curriculum, plus one hundred foreign students and a further hundred Master's students). With the support of the local authorities, three brand new amphitheaters (each able to seat 320, 230 and 150 students respectively) of white concrete were built in 1993. From the outside they are covered by a sloping green lawn reaching the first floor and protecting the classic “skyline” of the old building. The same year, a brand new library was opened built around a majestic oak tree in the center.