The Musée national du Moyen Âge / Musée de Cluny

I have been in Paris just over two months now and unfortunately my blog has been a little neglected, so I thought I’d take some time today to reflect on some of the things I have recently seen.

Last week heralded a visit to the Museum of Middle Ages. Among the principal holdings of the museum are the six La Dame à la Licorne (The Lady & the Unicorn) tapestries. Dating back to the late 15th century they are commonly thought to depict the five senses, taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch. The sixth displays the words “À mon seul désir”. The tapestry’s meaning is obscure, but has been interpreted as representing love or understanding. They were a definite highlight of the museum, of particular interest is the restoration work that had to be completed along the bottom sections of all the tapestries, the modern thread used faded quickly leaving a distinct line between the old and new sections.

Unsurprisingly, as they are such beautiful and interesting items, the tapestries have been depicted many times in popular culture in fact several of the tapestries can be seen hanging on the walls of the Gryffindor Common Room in the Harry Potter films.

I also enjoyed the selection of stained glass windows, which you could really get close to and consequently see the detail, often in churches and cathedrals it is hard to appreciate the minute details of the windows, but here they could be fully admired – look out for the eye-gouging and the window depicting the devil. 

In the rooms containing the smaller objects there are some beautiful examples of medieval jewellery including some particularly gaudy papal rings, ivory chess pieces, and serval reliquary boxes to contain hair, bones and other ephemera connected with the various religious figures and saints.  

The museum is free for under 26s and is the perfect length to keep you engaged the whole way through, it is not as busy as many of the museums in Paris and is well worth a visit if you are in the Saint Germain / Saint Michel area of Paris!

The Musée national du Moyen Âge   ★★★★

6 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005 Paris 




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