Ever since Dan Brown incorporated the Louvre in his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, I am dying to visit the museum and see it for myself. Right after my visit to the Grand Mosque, I took the metro and alight at Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre. It is utterly impossible to describe the Louvre in just a paragraph or two, but I’ll try. The museum has a maze of rooms housing a vast collection of artwork, sculpture and other artifacts. Just imagine over 3 million of art works, 6000 paintings, several miles of corridors and galleries . I conclude that it is impossible to view all the exhibits in a day. Besides being the most visited art museums of 2012, what Louvre got to offer are unrivalled collections of French paintings and ancient art works.
The best thing about Paris is that you can wonder around the city to find cool bit of street arts. I am lucky to stumble upon a few pavement artists wielding chalk, hoping that the weather will hold out long enough to last a tad longer. I loved the Charlie Chaplin scene that I came across in a square right above the metro station.
While making my way towards the building, beggars are distressing to encounter. My advise; walk away and try not to establish any eye contact.
As I entered the compound, the pyramid glass panels blends seamlessly with the medieval palace. The Louvre has a sort of futuristic edifice look to the classical architecture.
Nestled in a horseshoe of majestic neo-baroque buildings, some may find that the modern glass pyramid of the museum seems odd with the splendor of the surrounding 17th century architecture. However, to stand in front of this diamond of glass and steel is to experience the implementation of ageless knowledge and modern vs classical architecture. Both structure neatly marries the two eras.
The 71 ft high M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the middle of the courtyard of the Louvre bears other resemblances of the Eiffel Tower. Like the tower, the pyramid was at first bitterly denounced by many prominent people in the arts who viewed it as an unwelcome intrusion of harsh modernism into the sacred precincts of Paris. To think of it now, the pyramid itself is simple and iconic symbol in the world.
Pyramide du Louvre
Pyramide du Louvre
There are many entrances to the Louvre but the most prominent is at the Pyramid entrance in the main courtyard. Go through the security screening and take the escalators down to the main lobby of the museum. Be mentally prepared with the snake queue at the ticket counter. Alternatively, book online to avoid the crowd. If you wish to visit for free, the museum open its doors for free admission on the first Sunday of each month. I cannot imagine how the crowd will be like.
Proper planning prior your visit is a must! No trip to the Louvre is complete without seeing the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
I start off with Denon entrance (The only sector that I managed to complete during my visit to the Louvre. Le sigh!). Everyone want to see the Mona Lisa and I am no different! The museum itself was impressive yet uncomfortably crowded, and it was hard to appreciate the works while other visitors were constantly invading my personal space.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory).
Hallway of paintings.
One of the statue exhibit.
I followed the signage to the room where the Mona Lisa is hung. When I was about to enter the room, I am mentally prepared with the amount of crowd. Everyone elbowed up to see her up close and personal. As I gazed behind all the bulletproof glass, I am pretty sure she was crackin’ a smile at me heh! One of the reason everyone cites for the Mona Lisa’s popularity is her smile which often described as enigmatic.
Mosh Pit Round 2. I squeeze my way through the crowd and managed to get a closer look at Mona Lisa. It is just a small painting but well-known to the world. Initially, Da Vinci is hardly the most prolific artist of the period. When the Louvre became a museum in the late 1700s, Mona Lisa remained hidden in a badly lit little room. Long story short, her fame became transcendent in 1911, when the painting was stolen from the Louvre which took 2 years to find. Thanks to the high-profile heist, Peruggia, the Mona Lisa is now a global icon. Little did we know that Mona Lisa has the highest insurance value for a painting in history, $100m in 1962. Taking inflation into the account it would be approx $670m in 2006.
One of the galleries.
Panorama view of the Louvre compound from one of the window.
Opened to the public on September 2012, Islamic Art is the newest wing of the museum. There are about 3,000 works, whose origins range from Spain to India and date from the 8th to the 19th century. I think this space is a symbol of tolerance in the face of growing unrest and misunderstanding between the west and the Islamic World.
I was told that the roof structure took a decade to build, is fitted with a wave-like, gold tinted rooftop which has been likened both to a flying carpet and sand dunes in the desert.
The exhibition provides an overview of artistic creation from the dawn of Islam in the 7th century to the early 19th century, encompassing architectural elements, stone and ivory objects, metalwork, glass work, ceramics, textiles and carpets, manuscripts etc.
It seems that time doesn’t permits and I gotta take my leave. This huge self-supporting helical stairway is pretty cool though.
Smaller than Arc de Triomphe, the Arc du Carrousel was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his Austrian victories and honor his grand army.
Four gilded bronze horses on top of the arc and several bas-reliefs depicting the story of the military campaign.
Jardin des Tuileries is just a walking distance from the Louvre. Took a stroll down the park where the gravel lanes and terraces occupy a large part of the 25 hectares. You can actually grab a chair and sit around the fountain. This is not the case during winter season. Everyone were reluctant to do so.
Along the way, there are several statues of personages dated from 1716.
From afar, Eiffel Tower and Roue de Paris.
The Roue de Paris is a 60-metre transportable Ferris wheel. Located at Place de la Concorde, the Ferris wheel is a temporary attraction.
I got my 7 euro worth of Churros!
For once I thought I am in Egypt when I saw this 75-foot Obelisk of Luxor. The Obelisk was erected in Place de la Concorde as a symbol of peace.
Paris Travel Series: Eiffel Tower | Montmartre District | Paris Mosque | Arc de Triomphe & Champs-Élysées | Palace of Versailles | Cruising Along River Seine | Notre-Dame Cathedral & Centre Georges Pompidou | Tour Montparnasse | Pont Alexandre III