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Le Musée National du Moyen-Age
La Dame à la Licorne

6, Place Paul Painlevé - Metro : Cluny La Sorbonne.

This museum, nestled in the heart of the Latin Quarter, facing the official entrance to the Sorbonne, has the appearance of an old English gothic college such as one might find at Cambridge.  It was a monastery established as a shelter by the Bourguigla dame a la licornenon monks of the enormous Abbaye de Cluny in 1330 atop the ruins of old Roman baths. Remnants of these ancient baths can still be found on the side of the building. Reconstructed into its current form in 1510 the monastery is no longer active, its medieval architecture put to use in 1842 as the perfect showcase for the National Museum of the Middle Ages. Inside the museum reside many priceless treasures, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, stained-glass windows, rugs and other ancient objects. The Notre-Dame gallery houses the 21 enormous statues of the Kings of Isreal sculpted around 1210 to adorn the west façade of Notre Dame. The statues were decapitated as a symbol of royal power during the French Revolution. Incredibly, the heads were not recovered until 1977, unearthed during an urban excavation near the Opera. They have since been reunited with their original bodies. A magnificent collection of stained-glass windows belonging originally to Saint-Chapelle and the Basicila of Saint-Denis can be admired up-close, something not possible in the original buildings. Arguably the museum’s most celebrated masterpiece though is the Dame à la Licorne tapestry, discovered quite by accident by the writer Georges Sand in the Château de Boussac in 1844. Protected during five centuries the tapestry has kept its vibrant colours and its original quality. The tapestry is displayed under filtered light in chambre 13 along with five others dedicated to the senses.  A replica of an authentic medieval garden can also be found outside the museum.

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