The National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris (formerly the Cluny, which is what I still call it) is a hidden little gem in the Latin Quarter that doesn’t seem to get much love from tourists. It’s a small museum, but it has gorgeous tapestries, sculptures, stained glass, and other artifacts from the Middle Ages that are definitely worth seeing.
The most famous pieces in the collection are the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which consist of five tapestries depicting the five senses and a 6th with the title À Mon Seul Désir. (A note to photographers: the tapestries are lit very dimly to preserve them, so bring a tripod and a fast lens for better pictures–several of mine ended up blurry, especially when I was trying to zoom in for a closer look at the details of the tapestries.)
You can also see surprisingly beautiful objects that would have been used in everyday life.
Other rooms feature exquisite goldsmiths’ work and ivory carvings. These are some of my favorites:
You can get through the whole museum in an hour or two, even with 20 minutes or so set aside for enjoying the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. If you’re more of the “I’ll-enjoy-it-as-I-walk-by-without-stopping” type of museum-goer, you could probably check out the whole museum in a half hour (you’d obviously be missing out on some great details, but it’s physically possible).
Then you can grab a quick bite to eat at any of the nearby gyro, sandwich, or other food shops, and have a relaxing lunch in the Cluny’s Medieval Garden.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Paris, don’t forget to include the National Museum of the Middle Ages, a.k.a. the Cluny, in your agenda.