Hi friends! Want to take a virtual tour of the Louvre with me? I’ll give you fair warning that we’re only visiting the 1st and 2nd floors today because we have lunch plans in the Latin Quarter. But that’s fine. It’s not a wasted trip. The Louvre is never a wasted trip.
When you go, take the train to Metro line 1, Stop: Palais Royal Musée. Exit – but stay in the subway tunnel and follow the crowd to the Louvre entrance underground. That way you’re waiting in a protected area, surrounded by luxury stores.
Don’t be afraid if they promise over an hour wait when you get there. The line always moves much more quickly than that.
The pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei in 1984. Stunning, really, when seen from underground.
When you enter the atrium, don’t wait in the long line for tickets. Just use the automated teller! Who pays for things in cash anymore? (I really couldn’t figure that one out, why there were long lines).
A little security and then you’re in.
The Louvre was a fortress in the 12th century, and a royal residence for French kings until Louis XIV moved to Versailles. It was built in stages over the centuries, each addition influenced by the time.
The architecture and details are works of art, in and of themselves.
The second floor has the Dutch, Flemish, German and French paintings. Fortunately, the map (which you can get in English) shows a few of the most famous paintings, such as “The Lacemaker” by Vermeer. This is so tiny you almost miss it.
Although you can’t touch the paintings (duh), you can get up close and personal with the paintings to see them in detail.
And you can paint them! (If you’re unembarrassed by your skill).
Below is an “exquisse,” pronounced “ex-kees” by Rubens. It means sketch, or rough draft. There’s a small room full of exquisses.
See how the faces are not painted in detail? I love to see art in its unfinished form.
A quick glance outside and you can see the immensity of the Louvre, abutting the Tuileries Gardens.
Otherwise, the most famous floor of the Louvre is the first floor with the Italian artists and large format French paintings of the 19th century. This was my favourite painting of everything we saw.
“The Flood” by Girodet-Trioson.
But before we got there, we went through the Apollo Gallery.
A spectacular collection of floor-to-ceiling paintings, and sculptures.
And at the very end of it … the diadem for the Duchess of Angoulême.
40 emeralds, 1031 diamonds. Solid gold.
And if that doesn’t impress you, there’s always the perfect 20 karat diamond on the other side. “Honey, will you …”
“Aw Louis. You shouldn’t have!”
There were the Napoleon III apartments. (I think this is it anyway).
And then we get on to the Italians. “David and Goliath” by Ricciarelli. There was a tear in the painting, though barely visible in the picture, which cuts across the sword. I expected there to be a sign as to what happened, but there wasn’t. And there’s no information online either.
Here’s a separate painting with a view from the back.
Oh, those Italians, blah, blah, blah. Mona Lisa, blah, blah, blah.
Yeah. That tiny picture way on the other end of this immense crowd is it. This is why you don’t go to the Louvre just to see the Mona Lisa.
Below is Arcimboldo, which my kids have all studied in school. France is pretty good at art education for the under-ten set.
I could show you more, but by this point we’d been absorbing one spectacular piece of art after another so we didn’t stay much longer. I liked this Panini painting too (below), but it only made me think of grilled sandwiches, reminding me that it was lunch time.
We exited from the Italian apartments into the fresh air
right across the Seine from the Musée d’Orsay
and the Latin Quarter, where lunch was waiting for us.
My husband’s grandfather was a painter. Years ago, he was invited to paint one of the walls in the stairwell at the Louvre with a special paint he created and patented, which was like coloured glass cement. We looked for the wall based on this painting he left behind (where he included the “square paintings” artwork he dreamed of hanging on that wall in the Louvre). He was a visionary.
But we found out afterwards that a director had it painted over because it was too modern for the style of the Louvre. Too bad, huh?
Famous men, from centuries gone by, have filled the Louvre with their legacies for all the world to see. And somewhere in its midst, a layer of paint conceals another man’s dream.