Wanting to expand veterinary education in France, Henri Léonard Jean Baptiste Bertin, French Minister of State under King Louis XV, asked Bourgelat to establish a veterinary school in Paris in 1765. Due to its more rural environment and other logistics, the small hamlet of Alfort was instead chosen as the school’s location.
Opening its doors to students in October 1766, the National Veterinary School of Alfort is the world’s oldest veterinary school remaining on its original site. It sits on an 11 hectare estate (about 27 acres), and several of the buildings are protected as historical monuments. The estate includes a sculpture park which has a statue of Bourgelat. The statue was unveiled October 30, 1879, and is still in its original location in the center of the courtyard facing the school’s main entrance.
The veterinary school’s main campus is in the heart of Maisons-Alfort, 8.4 kilometers (about 5.2 miles) from the center of Paris. The school also includes an educational center in Champignelles in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, and the Centre for Research and Imaging of Equine Locomotor Disorders (CIRALE) in Goustranville in the Normandy region. Acquired in 1975, the center in Champignelles includes a teaching farm with herds of sheep, cattle, and deer as well as beehives. Built in 1999, CIRALE is internationally recognized in the study of musculoskeletal diseases in horses.
Veterinary studies last 7 years. Graduates can practice veterinary medicine in France and throughout the European Union.