We visited the Cluny Museum of the Medieval Age in Paris a couple of months ago and now I'm finally sitting down to write more about that experience! As promised in our Paris Trip Report, here's a more detailed review of Cluny Museum in Paris.
Cluny Museum - Basic Facts
What's the Cluny Museum? It's France's national museum of the Medieval era. Its official name is in fact Musée national du Moyen Âge – Thermes et hôtel de Cluny. Or in English: The National Museum of the Middle Ages – Cluny thermal baths and mansion. As the longer version of the name implies, this Museum is located within an authentic medieval mansion. And yes, there are real Roman thermal baths there as well.
The Cluny Museum is in the Latin Quarter, just south of the river. This is one of the oldest parts of Paris and a great area for travelers to wander around soaking the atmosphere.
If you're looking to visit, the address is: 6 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005 Paris
Opening hours are 9:45AM-5:45PM. Closed on Tuesdays.
Entrance fees: A very reasonable 8€ which includes an audio guide. Kids under 18 get in for free (great news for visiting families!) The museum is free for all on the first Sunday of every month.
Our Visit to the Cluny Museum
Our family visited the Cluny Museum on a sunny Monday morning in late March. Having stayed in Les Marais right by these two beautiful medieval houses, I was the mood for exploring more of Paris's past -
And so we made the most of a beautiful Monday morning and walked to the Latin Quarter! Our first stop was at the garden adjacent to the museum -
The museum was being renovated at the time of our visit. We circled the walls that hid the construction site and reached the entrance on the other side. The entrance gate was just perfectly medieval!
The cashier told us that we should probably hurry and go see the museum's most prized display first: The tapestry of the Lady and The Unicorn. He said they were about to close it for a couple of hours for cleaning purposes. To be honest, our visit was rather spontaneous so we didn't know much about the tapestry. Still, we followed the advice, got our tickets and hurried to the tapestry display.
I can now tell you that The Lady And The Unicorn is a series of beautiful 15th century tapestries depicting allegorical scenes. Each huge tapestry shows a lady surrounded by plants and animals. And yes, unicorns too!
The audio guide provided a lot of information about the tapestries. As we finished listening to the descriptions, they were getting everyone out of the room. It was fine though. We felt like we had enough time with the lady, so not a problem.
We then wandered through the other galleries in the museum. There were themes to each room and we spent some time in each one listening to the audio guide.
One of the galleries was a really cool dark room with lit glass windows. A gorgeous collection of stunning medieval vitrages with religious motifs!
In one corner of the museum we came across the vaults of a gothic chapel with a beautifully preserved ceiling.
We then went downstairs to the lower level through a fairly dramatic corridor.
The way lead to the Roman baths, aka the frigidarium. This turned out to be a huge room holding several Roman baths and busts.
We spent a total of two hours in the Cluny Museum and then moved on to explore more of the Latin Quarter. The entire area is pretty cool, so I added it to my list of places to visit in Paris too.
What we liked about the Cluny Museum
My favorite aspect was the perfect match between a real medieval mansion and the displays. There was lots to see and learn about medieval Europe by exploring authentic artifacts in a very fitting setting. Unlike some of the other museums in Paris this was the right size - not too small but also not too big - and perfect for a couple of hours. Oh, and no lines! That's a HUGE plus if you're looking for nice places to visit in Paris.
What we didn't like about the Cluny Museum
The kids were getting a bit bored too quickly. Our boys - aged 13 and 15 - could use some interactive displays that could provide a more hands-on educational experience.
Overall, if you're interested in medieval European history then definitely make time for visiting the Cluny Museum while in Paris. Traveling families would do well to prepare the kids for the visit to help them bring things to life.
For more details on how to reach the museum, opening hours etc. make sure you visit their official website.
And if you've visited the Cluny Museum, leave a comment and let me know what you think about it!