Polly and Patsy Jefferson were in their early teens when they arrived in Paris, so one of Jefferson’s first tasks was to find a suitable school for his daughters. All of his new French acquaintances recommended an elite convent school, l’Abbaye Royal de Panthemont in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. There the girls studied mathematics, history, geography, and they learned modern languages. It was a splendid education, of a kind that very few girls received back in America. Jefferson’s daughters also learned to play the harpsichord from Claude Balbastre, the organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
In addition to operating a school, the nuns also offered rooms to aristocratic ladies who sought a quiet retreat from their troubles—the lack of a husband, the death of a husband, or the separation from a husband. One of the ladies living at the Panthemont at the same time as Polly and Patsy was Josephine de Beauharnais, the future lover, wife, and empress of Napoleon. Read all:ncregister/the-day-thomas-jeffersons-daughter-told-him-she-wanted-to-become-a-nun