Sunday, October 14, 2012

More of Paris

We ended our first day in Paris by visiting the Louvre. Normally there are long line ups - up to 4 hour waits to get into the Louvre, however Sean had told me the Louvre is open two nights a week and he had heard this was the best time to go. We found out the Louvre was open until 9:45 on Wednesday nights so we made our way there just before 7:30 pm and to our delight no line up - we got in immediately and not crowded, although we only had just over 2 hours.

The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world and a landmark on the right bank of Paris. The buildings are massive with 60,600 meters housing 380,000 objects. Originally in the 12th century the Louvre was built as a fortress. The original building has been extended over the years and in the 1600's the Louvre was declared a museum to display national masterpieces. Under Napoleon the museum was renamed to Musee Napoleon but changed back after he was defeated at Waterloo. During world war II many of the important works were moved to the chateau de Chambord however others were seized by the nazi's and over the years there has been much controversy over ownership of numerous works of art.

In 1983, the French President proposed the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988. Personally, I feel this new structure does not fit with the original building and looks out of place - but then again I am no archetict.

The Louvre employees 2,000 people and receives 15,000 visitors per day. I was amazed that you are able to take pictures and videos of the artwork.



The Nike of Samothrace marble statute from 190BC
The ceilings are breathtaking.

Ran into my soul sister! Painted by Leonardo de Vinci in the early 1500.
Mona Lisa is said to be the world's most recognizable painting. But what is the facination with this piece of art? Perhaps it is her smirk - maybe she knows something we do not? Or maybe it is due to the 1911 theft of the painting where it went missing for 2 years when an Italian employee of the Louvre stole it! Whatever the reason this is truly the most popular painting in the Louvre and it was another tick off my bucket list to - even if it is behind bullet proof glass.

Can you see the family resemblance between the three cousins!
The size of the painting was unbelievable and all paintings are in pristine condition.

More ceiling views











Front of painting









Back of painting??


We only managed to view one wing of the Louvre but this was more than enough for one day. I think it would take years to completely visit and truly appreciate this museum.

Finally the end of our first full day in Paris!

Next day we were off to the Arc d' Triomphe and walk the Champs Élysées.

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l'Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. There is a smaller arch, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which stands west of the Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. The arc is 50 meters high and 45 meters wide.

Champs Élysées

After saying goodbye to Elaine at the metro station, Rosemary and I made our way to the train which would take us to the Palace de Versailles outside of Paris.

When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime

Unfortunately by the time we arrived at the palace it was too late to go inside so we took this opportunity to walk around the grounds - as you can see the palace is very large and surrounded by massive garden areas which must be extremely impressive in spring and summer.








Next time I am in Paris I will be sure to take the early train so I have time to view the palace from the inside as well as take more time to walk around this lovely, picturesque town.





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