Cluny Museum: the Middle Ages in Paris

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Many institutions are designed for tourists and Parisian culture enthusiasts. Apart from Paris major museums, such as the Louvre, other less famous places shelter absolute treasures. It is the case for he Cluny Museum, the French National Museum of the Middle Ages.

The Cluny mansion: a place steeped in History

The Cluny Mansion: no one could have thought of a better place than the townhouse of the abbots of Cluny to host the Museum of the Middle Ages. Their order, whose main abbey is located in the city of Cluny in Burgundy, was then one of Europe’s richest and most powerful monastic orders.

The construction of the actual mansion that shelters the Cluny Museum began in 1485, on the initiative of Jacques d’Amboise, who was then Abbot of Cluny. This young religious man, coming from one of the wealthiest and most influential families of his time, dreamed of a sumptuous home in the major place of power Paris then was. Everything there had to magnify the Abbot’s status and the order’s power: the materials used were rare and expensive, the plan was complex, and the decoration of the facades was busy and, let’s admit it, sumptuous. The gothic style of the end of the Middle Ages contributes to the prestige and magic of the Cluny Museum: may there be a better setting than an old medieval private mansion for a museum dedicated to the Middle Ages? The chapel is absolutely beautiful too. The mansion is located on old Gallo-Roman baths, of which remains the frigidarium. 

The works displayed in the Cluny Museum

The building alone is already worth the visit, but true masterpieces are displayed in its various rooms. Exceptional statues and stone works are sheltered in the Cluny Museum. The angels of Poissy, one holding the crown of thorns and the nails, the other blowing the trumpet, will enchant you with the delicacy of their features and the care given to their clothing. These masterpieces are the work of the craftsmen and artists of the reign of Philip the Fair at the beginning of the 14th century.

Goldsmithery was also very popular in Europe’s royal, imperial and ecclesiastic courts during the Middle Ages. You will be seduced by the delicacy of a pair of eagle-shaped fibulae designed by a talented craftsman of the 6th century. You will also be in awe at the sight of the votive crowns of the Treasure of Guarrazar, a city near Toledo.

Illumination, the ultimate medieval art, is also in the spotlight. On your next visit you may admire a page of the Code of Justinian dating back to the 13th century, or even an illuminated page of the lectionary of Cluny dating back to the 11th century.

Formal clothing was a visible sign of wealth: it was necessary to hold one’s own by dressing well, elegantly and opulently. Some pieces, despite the fabric’s delicateness, went through the centuries and reached us in an excellent state of preservation. Paris Middle Ages Museum shelters absolute wonders, such as the orphrey of Manassès and Ermengarde that once adorned a chasuble. 

Many liturgical object are also displayed, such as altars, paintings, statues, chalices… You will also have the opportunity to see furniture pieces such as the 6 tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn.

The Cluny museum reopened in July 2018 so you can go there to admire some of those treasures. 

Practical information: address, opening hours

Cluny Museum address and getting there

The French National Museum of the Middle Ages is located at the: 6 place Paul Painlevé - 75005 PARIS.

You can access it easily by metro:

  • Cluny-La Sorbonne and Odéon stations (line 10)
  • Saint-Michel station (line 4)

It is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River, close to major tourist attractions and neighborhoods, and less than 500 meters from the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, a jewel of medieval architecture.

Opening hours and days

The museum is opened from Wednesday to Monday from 9:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. The museum closes on Tuesdays and on May 1st, December 25th and January 1st.

The museum closes at 4 p.m. on December 24th and 31st.

Please note : The medieval hotel remains closed for work until Fall 2020.

You can get to the Cluny Museum by buying a Paris Museum Pass online on PARISCityVISION. It is a two day pass giving you access to dozens of museums and tourist attractions in Paris and its periphery.

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