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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Medieval Townhouses


13-14th century


In the Middle Ages, Paris was one of the most prosperous cities in medieval Europe.

Powerful families moved in to be closer to the king and to court.

4 medieval buildings in particular are worth a visit : the Hotel de Sens, the Hotel de Cluny, the Hotel de Bourgogne and the Hotel de Clisson.

The Hotel de Sens belonged to the powerful archbishops of Sens - a city about 100km away from Paris and from which the bishops of Paris depended.

The Hotel de Cluny belonged to the powerful abbots of Cluny, the leading monastic order in Europe, and is now the Medieval Museum.

The Hotel de Bourgogne was owned by the powerful Dukes of Burgundy whose lands at one point stretched all the way to the Netherlands!

It was said that the Duke of Burgundy could walk from his townhouse to the royal palace, over the city walls, without setting foot on the streets!

The Hotel de Clisson belonged to a rich nobleman from Brittany, Olivier de Cresson, nicknamed "the Butcher" by the English for his ferocity as military commander during the Hundred Years War.

The Tour Saint Jacques was part of the church Saint Jacques de la Boucherie, named after the wealthy medieval butchers of the Halles.

The rue François Miron has a series of houses which were restored to their former medieval glory.

As a final note, it's worth remembering how tough life was in the Middle Ages.

It was a hugely unequal society, dominated by a hereditary nobility and the clergy, who represented 10% of the population.

For over 100 years, France was at war with the English (the Hundred Years War).

Plague was rife, and in 1350 alone, killed a quarter of Paris' population.