The Louvre! Both old and new.
Finally made our trip to the Louvre. I had read that it would take 9 months to see everything in the Louve and I believe it. Although we decided that much of your time would be spent trying to navigate the hallways, stairwells and ins-and-outs of the different buildings. The Louve is housed in a former palace with several floors and several different buildings all connected to each other. Many of the rooms are georgous and elaborately decorated much like we saw in the Vatican museum. Our favorite part of the building was the glass pyramid built to house the entrance to the Louvre. It certainly isn’t an old traditional building – it’s a large glass pyramid that sticks out. I like the contrast of it to the old buildings. And when you are inside the pyramid it feels so light and airy which is also a great contrast to some of the dark, stone rooms of the Louvre.
The “Jetson’s” elevator inside the Louvre.
Inside the pyramid is a large, circular staircase and inside the middle of that staircase is an elevator that we dubbed the “Jetson elevator” – you know, like George Jetson. It’s a circular platform that you walk onto and you are lifted up or lowered down to the opposite floor. With this still being low season we were fortunate again to have no wait to buy tickets and no wait to get in. The biggest crowds we saw were the endless amount of school kids on class trips in the Louvre. What a great place for a field trip!
After admiring the pyramid and getting our bearings we headed toward the Mona Lisa. There was plenty to see on the way but much of it was Greek or Roman art which we had recently seen quite a bit of. The Mona Lisa had a crowd around it but not too large. It is protected by bullet proof glass because, yes, in the past, someone tried to shoot it. It was smaller than I had expected but interesting to look at. We’ve been having a great discussion on what makes art famous?
The Mona Lisa! Madison thought it was pretty cool that we just saw THE Mona Lisa.
Why is the Mona Lisa famous when there are other paintings from the same time period that are bigger or more interesting? Madison says it’s her smile. Back in the time when the Mona Lisa was painted people did not smile for paintings. We explored the Louvre for about four hours working our way through the Roman Empire, Greek Antiquities, Italian and Spanish sculptures, Arts of Africa, Asia and Oceania, French paintings, Dutch paintings, and Egyptian Art. Our highlights were seeing the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, and the Egyptian Sphinx. Our favorite item was definitely the Code of Hammurabi which gave us a great basis for some research and dinner conversation for several nights afterward!
When we had finally had enough we ventured outside to see the building from there. Surrounding the Louvre is an extensive park that stretches through the middle of Paris. I will say Paris has tons of green space everywhere. The weather was really nice so tons of people were outside enjoying the sun. The park has all sorts of fountains and statues throughout it with lots of places to sit and relax. It is beautiful. The one thing that did surprise me was that all the walkways were made of dirt. I guess I expected the walkways to be concrete or wood, something a little less, well…dirty. It still was very inviting to meander your way through the grounds. We bought Noah a croissant from a street vendor which turned out to be his best croissant EVER. And Noah has become quite the connoisseur of croissants so that was saying something.
Think. Think. Think. Think.
The next day Kay and I came back into Paris on our own to visit a few more places that the kids just didn’t want to go to. First we visited the Rodin gardens where Rodin lived and worked for the later years of his life. He is buried here as well underneath his statue, The Thinker. The gardens are a beautiful space in Paris, hidden behind walls, so it’s like you discovered a secret. There are statues throughout the park with the largest of them being, The Gates of Hell. It depicts Dante’s Inferno and the seven levels of hell. The Thinker sits at the top of the gate contemplating the work. I didn’t know that The Thinker was just part of a larger work of art. I was fascinated by all the statues that came together to form The Gates of Hell.
After the Rodin garden we worked our way to Montmartre. We knew very little about this section of town but thought we’d check it out. I had read it was the Bohemian center of Paris that nurtured the spirits of Van Gough, Picasso and many dancers through the years. It is the old medieval quarter with small cobblestone streets high up on a hill overlooking Paris.
All the painters lined up in a neat little row!
There is one block where probably about 100 painters are set up and ready to paint a picture of you. We passed on that. We did enjoy a crepe and walking around the area just looking at it all. There is a beautiful church overlooking the city that we ducked into for a quick look. After getting lost wandering the streets and hills we did find our way back to the metro and back to our campground. Paris definitely has easily managed public transportation and is a fun city to just go out and explore.
This street performer did it ALL!
Venus di Milo.
One of our favorite subjects in the Louvre.