The medieval in Paris and Cluny!

So I am coming back to my beloved Paris and my wonderful times there working in it and living nearby in Versailles, glorious 1-2 punch. I do get my highs when visiting , luckily couple times a year from my pretty Morbihan Breton!

I like to bring you back into time, way back , to the beginning of Paris and its medieval past. Cluny is the name  a museum was created but the whole is beautiful.  However, let me tell you again a bit more on Cluny, the mansion, the museum, the place.

The Cluny Museum, its official name National Museum of the Middle Ages-thermes and Hôtel de Cluny, is located in the 5éme arrondissement of Paris, in the heart of the Latin Quarter, in a Mansion of the 13C; the Hôtel de Cluny. It has one of the most important world collections of objects and works of art of the medieval period and the thermal baths of Cluny, which are adjoining, are also part of it.

The Hotel welcomed the abbots of the order of Cluny in Burgundy as early as the 13C. At the end of the 15C, the building built by Jean III of Bourbon was enlarged by Jacques Amboise, abbot of Cluny . The arms of Amboise, “three pals alternating with gold and gules” adorn the ornate skylights of the façade. The hotel welcomes the abbots of Cluny and some important dignitaries.

From the 17C onwards, the hotel served as a nunciature to the legates of the Pope. The nuncio then resides with this house, which consists of about twenty people, including two secretaries.

The young Mary of England was confined there for 40 days in 1515 to ensure that she did not carry an heir to her husband King Louis XII of France, so the crown passed to his cousin, the future king François I. Jacques V of Scotland was also in the Hôtel de Cluny in 1537 for his strategic marriage with the daughter of François I, Madeleine de France.

At the French revolution, the hotel was sold as national property and underwent transformations and aggressions until its acquisition by the state in 1843. In 1833, Alexandre Du Sommerard, a senior adviser at the Court of Auditors and a passionate amateur in the Middle Ages, settled there, and rented a few pieces to a printer to organize his collection of objects. In 1843, the collection was bought by the State, which named its son Edmond du Sommerard first director of the Museum of Thermal baths and of the Hôtel de Cluny.

The hotel is today the oldest witness of the architecture of the mansions built in Paris between courtyard and garden. It is of flamboyant Gothic style according to a U-shaped plane, of a dwelling body extended by two small wings in square delimiting a trapezoidal inner courtyard.

The vocation of the establishment was confirmed in 1992 by its new name of the National Museum of the Middle Ages. The museum extends over 3 500 m2 (of which 2 000 m2 of exhibition). It brings together some 23 000 works and objects (of which 2 300 are exposed) dating from a period from Gaule -Romaine until the 16C and embracing a geographical area that includes Europe but also the Byzantine and Muslim east as well as the Maghreb.


There are sculptures here from ancient times, Byzantine and Upper Middle Ages, also of the 11-12C and 13-14C, and the late Middle Ages. The Cluny museum has the richest collection of stained glass windows in France (more than 230 panels, medallions or fragments of stained glass covering a period from the 12C   until the beginning of the 16C.

The National Museum of the Middle Ages has the chance to possess one of the most beautiful gatherings of works of Goldsmith and enamelling of the Middle Ages. These objects, in gold, silver or copper, often enamelled or embellished with jewels, formed the treasure of rich abbeys and great princes of the West. The museum’s ivory collection is with that of the Louvre Museum one of the two main Parisian collections. It extends from the end of the antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages. The Cluny Museum maintains an important collection of secular and religious tapestries.


There is a group who help maintained this beauty from private sources worth mentioning here: The Friends of the Museum of Cluny. Les Amis du musée de Cluny :

 The medieval public garden of Cluny museum is a nice and peaceful green space. Divided into two main parts, you will see first the way it is laid out with places dedicated to rest and playground for children, decorated of one of the last remains of the Gallo-Roman era.  Built in 2000, the Medieval garden is inspired  from  collections of the Museum of the Middle Ages and offers  throughout 5000 m² a succession of spaces evoking nature in medieval times. Stroll among the flowerbeds therefore organized according to their use in the Middle Ages : medicine herb garden (sage, hyssop, rue, wormwood) celestial garden (pink, violet, daisies) love garden (thyme, carnations)… the charm of the medieval garden is to recreate an ancient atmosphere while remaining contemporary. Note that in winter, terraces are set off and the garden is planted from April, until about October.

You can easily get here on the metro Cluny –La Sorbonne line 10, and a bit longer St Michel line 4.  Bus lines 21 – 27 – 38 – 63 – 85 – 86 , and 87 . The RER C Saint-Michel, and RER B Cluny – La Sorbonne. As well as bike rentals Vélib stations at 20 rue Du Sommerard , 42 rue Saint-Jacques, and 5 rue de la Sorbonne.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and around are

Official Museum of Middle Ages

Tourist office of Paris on museum of Middle Ages

City of Paris on gardens of Cluny

And a museum pass to help some on discounts if planning to see at least 3. Museum Pass of Paris on Cluny

There you go another nice place to visit in eternal Paris. This is uniquely old in old Paris !

And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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