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Musée National du Moyen Âge or Musee de Cluny

The Musée de Cluny is officially known as the Musée National du Moyen Âge and is located in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris to the South of the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

It is situated between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Rue Saint-Jacques and combines the remains of ancient Roman baths and a 15th Century monk's residence.

The National Museum of the Middle Ages contains a very interesting mix of different objects and artefacts all from the Middle Ages and gives a true sense of medieval life and although some artefacts are housed at The Louvre, the rest of them are held at this fascinating museum in Paris.

Musee de Cluny

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Musee National du Moyen Age

The museum is housed in a late Gothic mansion, which is called the Hôtel de Cluny that was erected toward the end of the 15th century by the abbot of Cluny as a house for his order, and hence why the museum is often called the Musée de Cluny, rather than by the official name of Musée National du Moyen Âge.

The mansion and its Gothic chapel became property of the State of France back in 1843 and you will be able to see medieval architectural fragments and historically accurate plantings contained within the garden, plus the ruins of baths which are believed to have been part of an ancient Roman palace that stood on the site years before the Hôtel de Cluny was ever built.

The Hôtel de Cluny and the Hôtel de Sens in the Marais area of Paris are all that remain of domestic medieval architecture in Paris today and as you enter through the cobblestoned Cour d'Honneur also known as the Court of Honour, you can see the impressive Gothic building with its turreted walls, gargoyles, and dormers.

The Hôtel de Cluny was originally the mansion of a rich 15th century abbot but by the year 1515 it became the residence of Mary Tudor, who was widow to King Louis XII and daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.  Yet by the time it came to the French Revolution the mansion was seized and then rented to Alexandre du Sommerard in 1833, who adorned it with medieval artworks and it was after his death in 1842 that the government purchased the building and its entire collection.

The collection of medieval arts and crafts within this museum is fantastic and yet most people will come away referring to the set of six stunningly coloured Lady with the Unicorn tapestries, which are the most acclaimed tapestries of their kind and were only discovered around a century ago in the Château de Boussac in Limousin.

Some of the other exhibits within the museum include sculptures, statues from Sainte-Chapelle, 13th century crosses, chalices, manuscripts, carvings, leatherwork, jewellery and coins.

Also during Tiberius's reign, a column to Jupiter was found beneath Notre-Dame's chancel and is now on view in the Court of Honour, which is called the Column of the Boatmen and it is believed to be the oldest sculpture created within the City of Paris.

There is a guide in English that provides a plan of the museum and while you are wandering around make sure you look out for the laminated information sheets that are provided in English as well as in French.

The Musée National du Moyen Âge is on two levels and is a treasure of medieval art and tapestries and provides a perfect setting for the large carved stone fireplaces, little chapel and the intricately bricked Gallo-Roman baths that are filled with sculptural fragments.

There is also a very pleasant, but often crowded public park behind the museum, which is free to enter and has been designed to resemble a medieval garden and there is even a childrens playground within it, so it is a great place to take the family and you will be sure to enjoy this museum.

There are also regular concerts of medieval and renaissance music held within the museum, so before you plan your visit, it may be an idea to find out if there are any planned whilst you are in Paris on holiday in France.

Guided tours for groups can be arranged, but these must be booked in advance and it is wise to allow at least one to two months prior in organising this type of tour.  There are also audio guides available for hire in different languages and there is a gift shop on site.

The museum is open on Wednesday through to Monday from 9.15am to 5.45pm but is closed on a Tuesday and national holidays.

Address & Contact Details:

6 Place Paul-Painlevé

Telephone: 1 53 73 78 00 or telephone reception on 1 53 73 78 16

Musee de Cluny

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