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 Hôtel de Cluny and museum is in the heart of the Latin Quarter in a building from the 13C, the Hotel de Cluny. It has one of the most important collections of objects and works of arts from the medieval period in the world and includes the thermes(spa baths) of Cluny attach and part of it.  The hotel of the abbots of Cluny housed the abbots of the order of Cluny in Burgundy from the 13C. At the end of the 15C the building constructed for John III of Bourbon was enlarged by Jacques d’Amboise abbot of  Cluny (1485-1510).  The coat of arms of Amboise , three pals alternating with gold and gules” adorn the ornate skylights of the façade. . The young Mary of England was in prison here during 40 days in 1515 to make sure she did not give heirs after the death of her husband, king Louis XII of France, so the crown will passed on to his cousin the future king François I.  James V of Scotland was as well in the hotel of Cluny in 1537 for his marriage with the daughter of  François Ier, Madeleine of France.  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.

Beginning in the 17C, the hotel is home of the visiting personalities of the Pope. The Nuncio lived with about 20 persons. At the French revolution, the hotel is sold and went thru big transformations until been acquired by the State in 1843. It went thru several owners and shared  with astronomers  Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande (1732-1807) and Charles Messier (1730-1817) that change it into an observation tower . In 1833, Alexandre Du Sommerard  master counselor of the court and amateur of  the middle ages  is domicile and organised a collection of objects from the period .  This collection was purchased by the State in 1843 . The hotel is today the oldest witness of the architecture of mansions built in Paris between a court and a garden; on a flamboyant gothic style on an U shape a building long of two sides with small wings  on the limit of an interior trapezoidical 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.

Paris

Totally dedicated to the Middle Ages, the museum shows several sculptures from an earlier period . It has several works witnessing the ancienne history of Lutèce.  The most popular of this is the Pilier des Nautes, the oldest monument of Paris, offered by the boat builders of the city  (the nautes) to the emperor Tiberius  (14-37AD ), discovered in the choir of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the 18C.  Another monumental pylon that of the  pilier de Saint-Landry, discovered in the île de la Cité in the 19C, but sculptured in the 2C.  The collection of Roman sculptures includes several works link to the history of Paris such as a series of 12 chapters coming from the abbey of  Saint-Germain des Prés,  sculptured in the 11C, as well as 4 chapters coming from the former Church of  Sainte-Geneviève  done in around 1100-1110 by the middle of the 12C, three heads on statues of the western facade of Saint-Denis Basilica, representing the queen of Saba, Moises and a prophet done around 1137-1140.

From the period of the 13-14C  and coming from Notre-Dame Cathedral are elements of the central porch representing the resurrection of the dead , done along the mid 13C , as well as a statue of Adam that once decorated the transept of the Notre Dame Cathedral, done by the end of the 13C.  From the Holy Chapel or Sainte-Chapelle comes four apostres that enhance the upper part of the Chapel such as Saint John; these statues were done between 1243 and 1248, durinng the construction of the Chapel. By the end of the Middle Ages, you can see Roman and Gothic style sculptures in stone, and wood dating from the 12C, coming from the Notre Dame Cathedral, but also from Germany, Spanish Flandres, and Italy ,as well as architecture elements like roman and gothic chapters from the porch of the Chapel of the Virgin of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

There are about 70 tapestries including the famous La Dame à la Licorne, and stained glass fragments especially from the Sainte Chapelle. About 50 lamps, close to 300 ivories dating from antiquity to the Middle Ages , as well as painting from the school of France, England, Germany, Spain, Flemish from the  14C to the 16C. Pieces of goldsmith and silversmith of relics and enamel de Limoges plus jewerly . Weapons and armory from the wars of old , and objects of every day life as well as furniture, toys etc.

The Cluny museum has the richest collection of stained glass in France with over 230 panels, medallions, or fragments of glass covering the period from the 12C to early 16C.  It has one of the most beautiful ensemble of jewerly and enamel from the Middle Ages, a collection of ivory which as with the Louvre are the two most important ones in France and extends from antiquity to the middle ages.  An important collection of tapestries from the profane to the religious amongst the collection you will see the tapestry of the Lady of the Unicorn, the legend of St Stephen or the tapestry of  the Stately Life. Also, a garden in medieval style done along the boulevard Saint-Germain.

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.

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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 : https://www.amis-musee-cluny.fr/

 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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