Musée du Moyen Age (Middle Ages) - Musée de Cluny, Paris

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Boulevard St-Michel

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  • Dame à la Licorne: hearing
    Dame à la Licorne: hearing
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  • Musée du Moyen Age (Middle Ages) - Musée de Cluny
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  • Dame à la Licorne: the heart?
    Dame à la Licorne: the heart?
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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    Musee du Moyen Age

    by Roadquill Updated Sep 27, 2012

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    Also known as the Musee de Cluny, it is home to the wonderful Unicorn Tapistry, the Musee de Moyen Age is a wonderful museum with lots of stuff from the middle ages. There are excellent examples of colored glass as period art pieces. There are excavations on the site that look to date back to the Roman era.

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    For tapestry lovers.

    by breughel Updated Jul 27, 2012

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    This museum is an absolute must for all tapestry lovers.
    There is not only the amazing ensemble of the "Dame à la Licorne" but there are many other remarkable art works nearly all of Flanders (part of the Duchy of Burgundy in that time) at the end of the 15th begin 16th c.

    Among the best known are "Les Vendanges - The Grape Harvest" (Flanders around 1500).
    It is typical of the noble daily life theme found in the tapestries of the 15th c.
    The Lord and Lady are shown overseeing the grape harvest and the pressing of the grapes. Everyone, including the servants, wears the finest clothing and jewellery!
    This scene represents the two techniques of pressing known in the Middle Ages: pressing with the foot, where the peasant tramples the grain to crush it (a technique used for the not very important vines), and the press with screw which the peasants turn with a stick to crush the bunches and to extract the juice from them. The liquid is then collected in wooden barrels to be preserved.

    The tapestry is set against a "mille fleur" (thousand flower) background, a popular design feature in many tapestries of the middle ages. Replicas of this tapestry are still produced and proposed for sale.

    Open: each day 9.15 h - 17.45 h. Closed on Tuesday and 1/01,1/05 & 25/12.
    Price (2012): 8 €, reduced 6 €. Free 26 yr from EU.

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    Lots of medieval stuff

    by Laura_Mexico Updated Jul 9, 2012

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    Small park near the museum

    This probably isn't a museum you would consider visiting in your very first trip to Paris, but after you have seen most of the "must see" tourist places you may want to see something new...

    I guess most people would consider this as an "off the beaten path" place, but I think it's really worth the visit. I wasn't expecting to see much but I found a lot of interesting stuff instead.... from stained glass and tapestries to various items used by people in the Middle Ages to a huge cooling chamber with its original stone walls preserved... I thought it was a small museum but in fact it's pretty big, so be ready to spend at least a couple of hours here. It's worthwhile to take the time to enjoy all there is to see here. Also, since it isn't such a popular place, it won't be as crowded as the Louvre or D'Orsay museums, although there were several visitors when I went there. But there aren't any long lines to go inside or anything like that. I arrived there early in the morning anyway, so there might be more visitors later in the day.

    Maybe this isn't really important but some people might want to know it: once you have spent many hours walking through one museum after the other you really want to sit down for a while. Well, this museum doesn't have many spots to sit down so be ready to walk almost non-stop while you're inside. There are a few benches in the patio next to the entrance, but other than that there aren't really many places where you can rest. There is a small park/garden across the street, so you may want to relax there for a little while after your visit is over.

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    Museum of Middle ages

    by Turska Updated Sep 29, 2011
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    We usually like many things from middle ages, so we went here. I´m not sure why, but we both felt like this wasn´t what we expected. There were some intresting objects, but nothing very expressive I think. Some people were really excited on famous art textils, but we aren´t keen to them. It´s interesting how well thay are saved, but we rather see more normal peoples normal life things, and metal objects. (Actually I´m an art metal smith from my first education, so that might be the reason..)
    The museum is o.k., and there are some nice things, and the building is nice, but if I would skip some museum from what we did see, it would be this. I´m sorry we choosed this over Museum d´Orsay, because we didn´t actually have time to visit it at all then. But next time then ;)
    This was included in Paris Museum pass.

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    Musée de Cluny

    by MM212 Updated Dec 9, 2010

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    H��tel de Cluny entrance - Nov 2010
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    Officially called "Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny," this museum contains an amazing collection of mediaeval art from Paris. It is housed in two adjacent structures, both considered rare examples of architecture in the city: les Thermes de Cluny, the 3rd century AD Roman Baths, and l'hôtel de Cluny, the 15th/16th century residence of the abbot of Cluny. The Baths of Cluny were among several that served the inhabitants of Lutetia, i.e. Roman Paris, and stand nowadays in partial ruins. The frigidarium (cold room) of the baths is better preserved and is used as a hall within the museum, whereas the caldarium (hot room) has lost its roof and can only be seen from the outside of the museum in its garden. L'Hôtel de Cluny itself dates back to the 13th century and served as the residence of the abbot of cluny. It was almost entirely rebuilt around 1500 by abbot Jacques d'Amboise in a design mixing Gothic and Renaissance styles, but its most striking feature is the chapel with a splendid and unique Gothic ceiling (see attached photos). The mansion was abandoned after the Suppression, but it was purchased along with the ruined baths in the early 19th century by the lover of art, Alexandre du Sommerard. Upon his death in 1842, he donated the palace, the adjacent baths and his mediaeval art collection to the state to be collectively turned into a museum.

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    Exceptional Middle Ages Museum

    by TexasDave Updated Oct 25, 2010

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    The displays in this museum cover art ( a Lot of it religious) from the 1st to the the 5th Centuries and then from the 11th to the 15th centuries. Part of it sits in the ruins of a Frigidarium of a Roman Bath. Two of the outstanding things to see are:
    1. Most of the sculpted heads of the 28 Kings of Judah and Israel meant for Norte Dame's West Facade but buried during the French Revolution. They were lost for almost 200 years but in 1977 found by pure chance when digging near the Opera.

    2. The Lady and The Unicorn series of tapestries from about 1500. Similar ones hang in the Cloisters Museum in New York City.
    But there are many other gems to see as well.

    this museum is covered by the Paris Museum Pass.

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    Visit the Musee de Moyen Age (Cluny Museum)

    by Beausoleil Updated Sep 16, 2010

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    Cluny Museum
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    This is one of our favorite museums. It's small but packed with interest. There are Roman baths and artifacts but the main focus is medieval history. The most famous part of the collection is the series of Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries so be sure to see them. They are upstairs in a room by themselves and come with an explanation. Photos are allowed but no flash so it's difficult to get a good picture.

    The stained glass is amazing because it is mounted on a light wall and you can get right up to it and see the details. Much more fun than using binoculars to view windows twenty feet over your head.

    Finally, don't miss the gardens. There is a medieval garden with very modern fountains and sculpture. There is ample seating for family picnics on wooden benches and a marvelous children's playground if you have your kids with you.

    Oh yes, this is a great place to buy the Paris Museum Pass because there is almost never a line at the Cluny Museum.

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  • kokoryko's Profile Photo

    And so many other marvels. . . . .

    by kokoryko Updated May 10, 2010

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    The Grape Harvest
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    I like a lot the Grape Harvest tapestry, a Flemish work from beginning 16th century (is it still Middle Age?), among the many tapestries you can admire in the museum. Items of every day’s life of that time are also here, like this tap (picture 2) which, with time and wearing became really “modern” to me! But it is religious art which makes the special character of the museum and best represents the inspiration of the Middle age artists. The Madonna on picture 3 can get tears from your eyes, and this Italian Cross Descent (picture 4) is really moving, more than religious painting!
    Visiting this museum takes at least 3 hours but you can get lost in there for the whole day and the employees may politely ask you to leave at 5:45 pm. . . . You forget eating, drinking. . . you are immersed. . .
    And a to finish, an “annunciation” on stained glass (picture 5), where the Holy Spirit represented as a dove bearing a halo is telling about good news. . . . Leave the Museum in peace.

    There is a bookstore and shop (it closed at 6:pm) in the lower level next to the entrance; you can have a look at a big selection of books about Middle Age (some in English), or DVDs, and a lot of art reproduction you can purchase for souvenir or gifts (mainly mouldings, scarves, tapestry reproductions. . . . puzzles, calendars, postcards. . . . ); not cheap!

    Days and hours of operation
    Every day except Tuesday, from 9:15 to 5:45
    Desk closes at 5:15
    Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
    -Plein tarif : 7.5 €
    -Tarif réduit : 5.5 €

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    Roman baths

    by illumina Updated Apr 23, 2010

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    Visible in the garden of the Hotel de Cluny are the walls of the third century Roman thermal baths - which were destroyed during barbarian invasions. There is a modern building built around part of the old baths; Room XII in the Museum contains the massive vaulting preserved intact. The best preserved part of the baths is the frigidarium (cold room), which shelters two beautifully carved first- and second-century capitals, the so-called Seine Boatmen's Pillar and the Pillar of St-Landry, which has animated-looking gods and musicians adorning three of its faces.

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  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Musée national du Moyen-age, Musée de Cluny. 5th.

    by pfsmalo Written Apr 29, 2009

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    The main courtyard of the museum.
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    The museum of the Middle-Ages-Thermal baths of Cluny are comprised in 2 buildings, the thermal baths dationg from the 1st-III centuries and the "Hotel of the Bishops of Cluny" from the 15th century. The museum was founded in 1843 by Antoine de Sommerard, who was living here at the time and was a lover of all things "middle-ages". There is also a medieval styled garden behind.

    Not having visited the inside of the museum I give here the website address and 'phone number for those that want more information and details. The website is very detailed and is in French, English or Spanish.

    Cluny-Sorbonne is the closest metro.

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    More tapestries.

    by breughel Updated Nov 29, 2008

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    Once I'm inside the Musée du Moyen Age I'm unable to leave. This time I got stuck at tapestries called "Vie Seigneuriale - Manorial Life" (Flanders 16th c.)
    They are an illustration of the "Amour Courtois" chivalrous love, reading, poetry, singing and music. "La Dame au Bain" is the best known part.

    Other activities are represented in the Liberal Arts tapestry having for subject Arithmetic's (Flanders, probably Tournai, begin 16th c.).

    Religion is another major theme of medieval tapestries. The museum displays a most remarkable series of choir hangings the "Legend of St Etienne" made in Brussels around 1500.

    Now if that is not sufficient, amateurs can go to the Louvre to see the famous 12 tapestries called "The Hunts of Maximilian" (see my tip) in wing Richelieu.

    The "lissiers" tapestry weavers used two type of weaving loom: the horizontal loom called "basse lisse" and the vertical one "haute lisse". In both case the weavers worked on the back side. It has been calculated that one "lissier" would weave about 1 square meter in one month!

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    Oh! You got me!

    by kokoryko Updated Oct 18, 2008

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    The Chess Players
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    The collections are displayed on two levels of the Hotel de Cluny, in a thematic and chronological order; it is really worth to take a long a (free) audio guide which gives explanations about the masterpieces you discover during the visit.
    In the past, historians considered the Middle Age as a “dark era” of European history; now it is admitted that arts and literature flourished at that time, it is just a matter (among others) to re-discover the treasures. . . . . . and what they tell us! Let’s proceed in the lower level.
    I was a not bad chess player when I was young and I should have applied what the story of this famous Chess Players stained glass (13th century) tells: the man and the lady play chess, and the scene represents the man taking the queen of his opponent; the result is : he wins and can take the lady to bed. . . . Well, if the lady wins, she probably may take the man to bed, so. . . the final result may be the same (?). I like a lot that sort of symbolic stories. . . . This glass is famous for the colours and the exquisite work on details, with very fine expressive work; look at the expression of the eyes of the man and how the lady looks “upset”! And at all the details of the scene, the clothes, hats, environment. . . Some say art was primitive in Middle Age. . . . .
    A painted wood North European St George is just elegant when killing the dragon. (picture 2). It is not a toy, on picture 3, but a processional Christ which was trailed in Bavarian processions on Palm Day, carved in the 12th century. There are lots of details on the carvings of some of the displayed choir stalls (picture 4). I easily imagine this St John Baptist (14th century) talking to me, and I am scared I could even be converted, so convincing he looks! (picture 5)

    Days and hours of operation
    Every day except Tuesday, from 9:15 to 5:45
    Desk closes at 5:15
    Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
    -Plein tarif : 7.5 €
    -Tarif réduit : 5.5 €

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    The Museum of Middle Age Marvels!

    by kokoryko Updated Oct 14, 2008

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    Suffering gargoyle
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    A test with pictures comments at the beginning

    Pictures, from 1 to 5: A suffering worker playing the gargoyle on the south western side (rue du Sommerard); richly decorated gables above the windows (19th century addition, as you can see comparing with the original decorations on the lower part); a general view from Square Pau Painlevé; the Renaissance entrance, and the St Jacques scallops and the sundial decorating the small tower of the mansion; even the gutter is decorative!

    Beauties of the Middle Age. . . but first generalities.
    Formal definitions of Middle Age make it begin with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and end with the “discovery” of America, or the take over of Granada by the Spanish Catholic Kings, or the invention of printing by Gutenberg.
    The National Museum of Middle Age -- or short ”Musée de Cluny”-- displays some wonders of the middle age pictorial and statuary art and the creativity of people of that time in glass working, wood carving, tapestry, etc.
    Many masterpieces come from French castles, churches, monasteries or more modest places, but there are also many pieces coming from all over Europe, and this museum gives a very deep insight to European art of that time (except painting, may be), and how art was closely linked to religious life.
    One of the masterpieces is of course the famous Lady and the Unicorn, and she deserves a separate “tip”.
    The building hosting the museum itself is a Renaissance U-shaped mansion (Hotel de Cluny), built by Jacques d’Amboise, abbot of the Cluny monastery, at the end of the 15th century; It is a typical early Renaissance building, interesting to look at, walking around, before entering the museum. The mansion has been built next to an old Gallo Roman thermal baths building complex, which is currently closed and under renovation. There is a medieval garden on the northern side of the building.
    Walking around you will see a number of gargoyles decorating the top of the walls, notice the rich decoration of the gables above the windows; you enter the yard of the mansion through a Renaissance porch, built in the wall closing the U (from the U-shape of the mansion) and will not miss the St Jacques scallops, reminding this place was a resting place for pilgrims walking to Santiago da Compostella; an old sundial is also catching your eye. It is worth to take your time before you enter the museum and discover the marvels!

    Days and hours of operation
    Every day except Tuesday, from 9:15 to 5:45
    Desk closes at 5:15
    Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
    -Plein tarif : 7.5 €
    -Tarif réduit : 5.5 €

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    Place Paul Painlevé

    by kokoryko Written Oct 4, 2008

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    The wolf of the Capitol
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    Place Paul Painlevé is opposite the entrance of the Middle Age Museum of Cluny and if you arrive a bit in advance to visit the museum (recommended!), you can have a short tour in the garden in the middle of the square, there are a few surprises there (surprises, if I write about in VT?). On the opposite of Musée de Cluny is the Sorbonne University.
    Paul Painlevé was a mathematician (You certainly know the transcendent functions of Painlevé, differential equations with non-algebraic solutions. . . stop! I’m lost) and ministry of education at the beginning 20th century, but interesting here is the garden!
    Is it not a surprise to meet Romus and Remulus sucking milk from the she-wolf? Roma here in Paris! It is a replica (pictures 1 and 2) of the wolf of the Capitol, offered by Rom to Paris in 1962 when they became twin-cities.
    In this charming square, between the trees, behind an Althea shrub you will also meet Puvis de Chavanne (picture 3), a symbolist painter who had a big influence on the impressionists painters and even Picasso admitted he owed him a part of his inspiration; there is also on the East side a fountain-monument dedicated to Octave Greard (picture 4). It is a really nice walk in this little garden, and on the southern side, outside, Rue des Ecoles is a bronze statue of Montaigne, the great philosopher and writer, a former mayor of Bordeaux during the reign of Henri IV. Look at his foot! Many people passing by formulate a wish and believe that touching his foot and saying: ”Salut Montaigne!”, the wish will become true! It is probably a student tradition (the Sorbonne is on the other side of the street), specially in exams times. On the pedestal of the statue is a beautiful sentence of Montaigne about Paris I try to translate here: Paris has my heart since childhood. I am French only because of this great city, great and overall incomparable in variety, the glory of France, and one of the most beautiful ornaments of the world.

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    The heads of the kings of Juda

    by kokoryko Updated Oct 4, 2008

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    The heads of the kings of Juda
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    Since Dr’s Guillotin invention, there is a tradition of cutting heads in France (this has been abolished in 1981!) and the revolutionaries, long before the International was written, wanted to “Of the past let us wipe the slate clean”. . . ! So they beheaded the king, counts, vice counts, innocents, lots of people, and. . . . thousands of statues in the French churches! When you look at the beautiful façade of Notre Dame de Paris, you see it as it has been renovated by Viollet Le Duc, the chief architect of the French Historical Monuments Service in the middle of the 19th century: the beheaded statues of the kings (in fact these are the kings of Juda, not the French dynasties as the revolutionaries were convinced to cut the head off) were removed and replaced by new ones. They are made with soft “Lutetian limestone” and have been renovated 20 years ago and look nice, but the originals are not anymore visible! The original heads have been recovered in 1977 in the basement and cellar of an old house in the Chaussée d’Antin (Hotel Moreau), and these are the ones you can see in the Museum of the Middle age (pictures 1 and 2): the originals are here! A visit to Notre Dame would not be complete if you do not visit this museum and see the statues (mainly their heads)! Time has made its work, but the faces are still beautifully expressive.
    Other beautiful statues are displayed, like these musician angels, with very elegant details (picture 3), this hermit or priest (picture 4) with his incredible twisted beard. The beheaded statues you see on picture 5 come from the St Denis Basilica, near Paris, the place where the kings of France are buried (with their heads), and the remains of Louis XVI joined them in 1815, during the first Restoration (of monarchy).

    Days and hours of operation
    Every day except Tuesday, from 9:15 to 5:45
    Desk closes at 5:15
    Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
    -Plein tarif : 7.5 €
    -Tarif réduit : 5.5 €

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