Stepping back in time at the Cluny in Paris

Last updated on April 22nd, 2024

We start our day at the Musée National du Moyen Age (the National Museum of the Middle Ages – or simply, the Cluny), the fabulous Medieval museum housed in the 15th century residence of the Abbot of Cluny which incorporates the ruins of 1st century Gallo-Roman baths. It’s quite a place, with a simple courtyard.

I’m not exactly sure what to expect inside, so am pleased to discover gorgeous (and sometimes funny) ceramics,

glass (including some that had once been in Saint Chapelle),

carved ivory,

and stone sculpture.

Besides all that, there are brilliant illuminated manuscripts, highly decorated household objects, intricately carved combs (How wealthy one must have had to be to have owned one of those!), and an abundance of other objects large and small.

There is also a lovely space that must have been stunning when it was fully furnished to serve as the mansion’s chapel.

The ancient baths have also been incorporated into the museum, with one section serving as home to the relatively recently discovered severed heads from Notre-Dame’s kings of Judah.

It’s an amazing collection, but the highlight is probably the tapestry collection, which include the late 15th century Lady and the Unicorn series. (Beautifully displayed in its own gallery.) While the “Unicorn” tapestries are lush, gorgeous, and simply amazing, I’m fond of the other tapestries on display too. Not only are they beautiful and skillfully made, but they also provide a glimpse of life as it was lived 500 years ago.


Springtime in Paris

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