The medieval Paris experience: one exhibition, one journey, one museum

Published on 13.03.2017
The Exhibition: What’s new in the Middle Ages? at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, until 6 August.
Quoi de neuf au Moyen-Age ? A la Cité des Sciences
© Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
Affiche de l'exposition "Quoi de neuf au Moyen-Age ?" à la Cité des Sciences


What’s new in the Middle Ages?

At the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, until 6 August
 The result of a collaboration with the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), "Quoi de neuf au Moyen Âge ?" provides a fresh look at this inventive period in history that ran for over a thousand years. From castles under siege to knights rescuing damsels in distress, from plagues to famine, there are numerous images habitually associated with the Middle Age, and the stubborn clichés about this period refuse to disappear from the public conscious. Yet every day, archaeologists are uncovering a much more complex profile of the Middle Ages. Did you know, for example, that today’s Parisian banlieue was inherited from the Middle Ages? It was between the 12th and 16th centuries that this network of small communities first began to spring up and develop. Town halls, belfries and universities all started appearing, and so emerged the key visual features of towns that we still recognise today. A family exhibition. 

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In the footsteps of medieval Paris

Paris in the Middle Ages was a city most commonly explored on foot. In 1492, as the medieval period reached an end, France’s capital had yet to grow into the urban behemoth that we know today. “Paris back then was much smaller than it is today, and was a city that could be crossed on foot,” explains Sophie Astic-Heisserer, the author of a guidebook published by Editions Ulisse. In 1328, 200,000 people lived in Paris, making it the most populous city in the western world. Our journey starts at Rue François-Miron, and two ancient buildings located at numbers 11 and 13. The wooden beams and signs on their facades transport us back to another age. These houses were restored in 1967. The rest of the journey will be led by a historian.


Musée de Cluny- National Museum of the Middle Ages
Dedicated to medieval art, Le Musée Cluny houses the famous tapestry known as The Lady and the Unicorn, in addition to a wonderful collection of medieval sculpture handed down from some of the most prestigious Parisian monuments (such as the Notre-Dame cathedral and the Saint-Chapelle), gold artefacts (including the Golden Rose and the Altar of Basle) and the biggest archive of stained-glass windows held in a French museum. The collections touch upon not only fine art and history, but also music, poetry and culture, in their most varied and unexpected guises. Discover the network of medieval art museums today, a European-wide testimony to the Middle Ages.

> More information here