This is a particulary fine example of a large private dwelling, built in the 15th century.
Built on the site of the Roman thermal baths of Lutetia, dating from the second or third century, the west side still stands and is one of the most remarkable Gallo-Roman monuments. In the Middle Ages, houses were built into the partially ruined building. At the end of the fifteenth century the present edifice was erected on the Roman foundations and walls. In the nineteenth century the interior was reworked and windows were put into the main body of the building.
The collection was put together by Alexandre du Sommerard and his exhibits of armour, chests, ivories, mirrors and hangings became a pilgrimage for those interested in the cultish assemblage of the medieval and Renaissance. This collection was later added to by another one of stone work. It was, however, Sommerard’s son who was the real founder of the museum, not only as curator but also as collector. The most internationally renowned pieces were gathered together under his stewardship. Several beauties in the former Musée de Cluny include a marvellous depiction of the grape harvest a Resurrection embroidered in gold and silver, with sleeping guards in medieval armour and a whole room of sixteenth-century Dutch tapestries, full of flowes and birds, a woman spinning while a cat plays with the end of the thread, a lover making advances, and a pretty woman in her bath, overflowing into a duck pond.
But most of all, not to miss the the ” La Dame à la Licorne “- The Lady with the Unicorn : six enigmatic scenes featuring a beautiful woman flanked by a lion and a unicorn. Dating from the late fifteenth century, it is quite simply the most amazing piece of art you are likely to see. The ground of each panel is a delicate red worked with a thousand tiny flowers, birds and animals. In the centre, on a green island, equally flowery and framed by stylized trees, the young woman plays a ponable organ, takes a sweet from a proffered box, makes a necklace of camations, while a pet monkey, perched on the rim of a basket of flowers, holds one to his nose.
Not far from the Seine and the Sorbonne, and at the crossing of the Boulevard St. Michel and the Boulevard St. Germain, stands the Hotel de Cluny. This is a particulary fine example of a large private dwelling, built in the 15th century.
28 Rue du Sommerard
Tel : 01 53 73 78 00
How to get there
Metro lines 1, 4 or 10 : Cluny-La Sorbonne
Bus: 21, 27, 38, 63, 85, 86, 87
RER B ou C : St-Michel-Notre-Dame
From 9.15am to 5.45 pm daily
Closed on Tuesday and public holidays