Musee de Cluny (medieval museum)
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The Musee de Cluny is an interesting museum with art and artifacts from medieval times. It is in a turreted medieval palace that is gorgeous, inside and out. And in a neighborhood full of students that is fun to explore.
The loveliest part of the museum are the Thermes de Cluny, ruins of Gallo-Roman thermal baths. They were built in the 3rd century, probably by the guild of boatmen, as there are carvings the shape of ships' prows. This part of the museum reveals a third of what was the former baths. The lighting is just wonderful- you really feel like you are there in the 3rd century!
When you first enter the museum, you are wowed by the Gothic medieval palace, which was the home of the abbots of Cluny in the early 14th century. Mary Tudor lived in this house in 1515. From the courtyard, look up at the blue sky and the Gothic windows.
Once inside, enjoy the cool stone interior. The art and artifacts were collected by Alexandre de Sommerard, a citizen with a modest fortune who spent all his leisure time collecting medieval items. He is responsible for saving the building, which is the only surviving medieval palace in Paris. Walk around and check out the sculptures, ceramics, keys, door knockers, chess sets, stained glass windows (this is a lovely area of the museum), elaborate carved wooden altarpieces, and gold church artifacts. A highlight are the famous giant tapestries, including The Lady and The Unicorn. Kids love the displays of little carved ivory boxes with incredibly detailed illustrations that tell a story. My daughter was so inspired that she started to create a story of her own and skipped through the rooms making it better and better with each new inspiration.
The garden behind the museum is small and modest, but pretty, with a small playground with a rope climby, firepole, and short slide.
The nice thing about this museum is that it's not crowded. You end up having a better time than at the iconic museums like the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay that are crawling with tourists. You are free to explore in peace, and the whole family comes out of the experience feeling rejuvenated!
After, walk along Boulevard Saint-Michel, a hip street where the students of the Sorbonne hang out in coffee shops. You can actually get a large to-go cup of coffee or tea at Costa Coffee, American style, which is a relief if you're thirsty (I don't know how the French get their thirst quenched with the tiny polite cups in which they serve tea in brasseries). This coffee shop has lots of seating, including a spacious upstairs area.
Walk all the way until you come to Le Jardin du Luxembourg, amazing gardens that you don't want to miss!
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
Musee de Cluny is located at 6 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005 Paris, France. The metro station Cluny-La Sorbonne is right here.
Open 9:15-5:45. Closed Tuesdays. Closed Jan 1, May 1, and Dec 25.
Entrance fee is 8 euros. There are audioguides, which is always helpful!
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.