The National Museum of the Middle Ages – Roman baths and Hôtel de Cluny is located in the centre of Paris. It is on the Left Bank of the Seine, to be precise, in the Latin Quarter, so-called because that is the language which was spoken there until the end of the 18th century due to the presence of schools and universities. It provides an opportunity to learn about two periods ? Antiquity (Gallo-Roman) and the Medieval period (from the Middle Ages) – and so to explore 15 centuries of history: from the 6th century BC to the early 16th century AD.
Antiquity: Cluny thermal baths
The Cluny thermal baths are the best preserved of the three Gallo-Roman baths built in Paris between the 1st and the 3rd centuries AD. Large buildings made from stone and brick, they were used as public baths. Three rooms are still visible: the frigidarium (cold room) and two caldaria (caldarium: hot room). The museum also houses ancient works on display in the baths’ frigidarium: Gallic objects (coins and jewellery), Gallo-Roman remains like the Pillar of the Boatmen and from the end of Antiquity (statue of Julian the Apostate) as well as sculpted ivories from the Eastern Roman Empire.
Medieval period: a mansion between courtyard and garden
Another building makes up the museum: the Medieval mansion of the Abbots of Cluny, also called the Hôtel de Cluny. It dates from the end of the 15th century and is the largest Parisian mansion built “between courtyard and garden”. The garden was recreated in 2000, inspired by the museum’s Medieval works. It also conceals some surprises for children.
The museum: a fine overview of the Middle Ages
In 1843, the museum was founded by a man who was passionate about the Middle Ages: Alexandre Du Sommerard. Since then, the collection has regularly been added to. It presents an exceptional overview of works from the Coptic, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic periods. You will find all art forms there: the art of painting (illuminations and stained glass), the art of sculpture (statues and ivories), the art of enameling, the art of gold and silver work, the art of tapestry and precious fabrics such as the famous drape of the Lady and the Unicorn… Click here for practical information To find out more and prepare for your visit, you can visit the museum’s website