One of my favorite unexpected places in Paris was the Musée de Cluny, which displays artifacts from the middle ages. Like every child, I had the required fascination with princesses, swords, and chivalrous knights, and it’s always fun to indulge that.
Officially known as Musée National du Moyen Âge (National Museum of the Middle Ages), it’s housed in an old Roman bathhouse, which in itself makes it a pretty cool place. The exhibitions stretch among tepidariums and frigidariums, soaring columns and big, well-lit arches. It’s strange to think about old Roman life right there in one of the most modern cities in the world.
My favorite part about this museum was their famous tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn. They are huge, old, detailed, and so perfectly medieval, made in the late 1400s. Perhaps it’s because I’ve enjoyed doing my own embroidery lately, but the size, detail, and artistry of it amazed me. It must have taken forever to weave, from wool and silk. It must have been someone’s pride and joy.
The size of these tapestries is stunning. Hanging in a dim circular room, each of the six tapestries are a good few feet across and tall, and each represents a different sense. Taste, Hearing, Sight, Smell, Touch, and the mysterious sixth, À Mon Seul Désir, which has various translations, among then, “My Sole Desire.” The museum interprets this as a sense of understanding, or love.
One room has a real Narwhal horn on display, which is impressive and large. I must admit, if I was living in the middle ages and caught a glimpse of that, it would be enough to convince me of the existence of unicorns.
Later, when we got to Amsterdam, Jesse and I were watching Harry Potter (because nothing makes me feel at home like loosing myself in an epic battle of good and evil), I noticed something in the shots of the Gryffindor common room. Here’s a screenshot I found by googling:
Yes! The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries grace the Gryffindor Common Room, in every movie.
I love it when odd things come together like that.