The collections

Medieval Paris: History and heritage

On sunny days and as the "Radiant Paris" exhibition at the Cluny museum comes to an end, it is time to take the opportunity to stroll around the capital, starting with a discovery of the Medieval paris, of which we know the greatest monuments but which also knows how to be more discreet; you have to know where to look ...

A well-hidden medieval Paris

Let's start with the center, the very heart of Paris with the Ile de la Cité:a Notre-Dame cathedral, undertaken by Bishop Maurice de Sully around 1160, but completed almost a century later: unmissable despite the crowds; you should also have fun observing the square, where you can guess the layout of the medieval streets! On the same island was erected by Saint Louis la Sainte-Chapelle between 1243 and 1248, to house the Crown of Thorns and other relics. Its interior maintenance leaves a little to be desired, but it is still worth the detour.

Let's go on the left bank, with the Collège des Bernardins, rue de Poissy, installed by the Cistercians in 1246, and the very pretty Saint-Séverin church, from the first third of the 13th century (in the middle of the Latin Quarter). We then descend further south to try to find the remains of the surrounding wall, dating from the time of Philippe Auguste (between 1190 and 1211): it is done in 3, rue de Clovis and at 48-50 rue Cardinal-Lemoine, in the 5th arrondissement. Other traces of this surrounding wall can be found in the capital, this time on the right bank, at 57 rue des Francs-Bourgeois (4th arrondissement), rue des Gardens of Saint-Paul (Also 4th) and at 11 rue du Louvre (1er). However, sometimes you have to have a very vigilant eye ... Fortunately not far away, in the street conveniently called Etienne Marcel, stands the very well preserved Tour Jean sans Fear, dating from the beginning of the 15th century, in the midst of the Hundred Years War.

Left bank again, we continue south to find remains of the Cordeliers convent, rue de Julienne in the 13th. Established in the 1270s, outside the city walls, by Canon Galen of Pisa with the support of Philip III; unfortunately there is not much left ...

Let us now go back to the North-West, towards a "nest" of medieval remains, around theSaint-Germain-des-Prés abbey church : it is, like Notre-Dame, a must-see in medieval Paris, with traces dating from the 11th century until the end of the 13th century. The neighborhood is also very pleasant (but expensive).

Let's cross the Seine, for the right bank: in addition to the remains of the wall already mentioned, the big piece is obviously the Louvre: everything is in the basement, but the museum has remarkably arranged it, and we discover the remains of the surrounding wall and the Saint-Louis room. An obligatory passage during any visit to the Louvre. You then have to have courage to reach the 18th arrondissement, at 2 rue Mont-Cenis, to admire the pretty Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre church, dating from the 12th century.

Finally, return to the center of Paris, still on the right bank, to discover an interesting district, in the 3rd arrondissement, with the priory church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the refectory and a turret of the enclosure, all from the 13th century. These are the main visible monuments, medieval Paris having been greatly turned upside down by the Paris of the Ancien Régime, that of the Revolution and that of Haussmann. But this is another story…


- Atlas of Paris in the Middle Ages: urban space, habitat, society, religion, places of power by Philippe Lorentz

For further

- The national museum of the Middle Ages of Cluny.

Video: Paris au Moyen Age en 3D (January 2022).