"Famous Tapestries." Top 5 Page for this destination Musée National du Moyen Âge (National Museum of Medieval Art) Tip by breughel

  Dame à la Licorne - "A mon seul désir"
by breughel
  • Dame à la Licorne - "A mon seul désir" - Paris
      Dame à la Licorne - "A mon seul désir"
    by breughel
  • Dame à la Licorne - "odorat -smell" - Paris
      Dame à la Licorne - "odorat -smell"
    by breughel
  • "The grape harvest"  Flanders begin 16th c. - Paris
      "The grape harvest" Flanders begin 16th c.
    by breughel
  • "Liberal Arts - Arithmetics" Tournai 1520 - Paris
      "Liberal Arts - Arithmetics" Tournai 1520
    by breughel
  • "Manorial Life" Flanders begin 16th c. - Paris
      "Manorial Life" Flanders begin 16th c.
    by breughel

The National Museum of the Middle Ages is reputed for its magnificent collection of tapestries.

The so called "Mille fleurs" thousand flowers tapestries are typical of the 15th c. and owe their name to the multitude of flowers and blooming branches spread over them. This is a background on which persons and animals are represented. The most sumptuous examples of these "mille fleurs" tapestries are the six "Lady with the Unicorn - Dame à la licorne " tapestries in this museum of the former Cluny Abbey hotel.
The name Cluny comes from the famous Abbey de Cluny in Burgundy to which belonged this Parisian abbey residence.

"La Dame à la Licorne" is the title of a series of six Flemish (Brussels?) tapestries from around 1490, made of wool and silk, often considered as one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages. The cartons were made in Paris. The harmony of the range of colours is exceptional as well as their iconography and the fact that they always remained together.
These 6 tapestries of about 3 x 4 m are on display in a special very dark circular room of the museum
Five of these tapestries illustrate each of the five senses : taste, hearing, sight, smell and touch. In each there is the Lady with the unicorn, a lion, other animals, a maidservant.
The sixth tapestry, wider than the others, shows the lady standing in front of a tent which reads "A Mon Seul Désir - To My Only Desire".
There are various interpretations, the meaning of this sixth piece remains mysterious.

These six tapestries were discovered in 1841 by the French author Prosper Mérimée in the castle of Boussac. They were probably manufactured for Jean Le Viste, a personage close to King Charles VII.
As there is some mystery about this "Dame à la Licorne", books were written about these allegoric tapestries, recently by Tracy Chevalier author of the book "Girl with the pearl earring".

There are other beautiful tapestries such as the "Seigniorial Life", the "Grape Harvest", "The Liberal Arts" etc all of Flanders begin 16th c. See my other tip
"For tapestry lovers"

Open: each day 9.15 h - 17.45 h. Closed on Tuesday and 1/01,1/05 & 25/12.
Price (2013): 8 ?, reduced 6 ?. Free < 26 yr from EU.

NOTE: Since April 2013 renovation works are going on in their room so that the tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn series are on display at the National Art Center in Tokyo and the National Museum of Art Osaka. They should be back in Paris at the end 2013.

Address: 6, place Paul Painlevé
Directions: Where Boulevard Saint-Michel meets Boulevard Saint-Germain... couldn't be easier. Metro Cluny-Sorbonne (closer) or Saint-Michel (not far at all).
Phone: +33 1 53 73 78 00
Website: http://www.musee-moyenage.fr

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Aug 31, 2013
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse



“Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 5 9
Forum Rank:
0 2 3 6 9

Have you been to Paris?

  Share Your Travels