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Sunday, 14 September 2014

My week in Paris: Day 3, Le Musée du Louvre!

As promised, day three was all about the Louvre! So, let's take a look at one of the world's most famous museums!

Located right in the centre of the main city of Paris, the Louvre has a long standing history, made all the more clear when you see it for yourself.

Originally constructed as a fortress in the 12th century, the Louvre has been the home of antiquities since 1682. It officially opened as a museum in 1793 and has seen many extensions and upgrades since then.

In 1983, as part of several grand projects in Paris, the Louvre Grand Pyramids were commissioned. The exterior pyramids were completed in 1989. The Inverse Pyramid, seen later, was finished by 1993.

You can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, I had forgotten how close it was to the Louvre.

The back of the line to the entrance to the Louvre. The entrance is located on the other side of that Grand Pyramid.

A view of some of the line, or queue, if you prefer. It was a two hour wait, but I found it enjoyable. Juliette and I spent most of the time examining the statues seen in the above picture, examining their names, strange faces, and some of the symbology behind them. There were many people running around, taking pictures, and when I made the comment that someone should be selling bottles of water, one of said merchants happened to appear, haha.

As I mentioned before, there were many people taking pictures. I do not know exactly why, but the most common pose for pictures involved standing on something and making it appear as if they were grabbing the top of the pyramid. I personally found this a little boring, especially since everyone seemed to be doing it. I, as usual, went with a different approach.

Yum! Yeah, that's a museum, I recognize the taste!

Bored yet? Well, I hope not, because that was only the outside. Once inside, we got out tickets and went on our way. I found it interesting that the audio/visual tour was being sponsored by Nintendo! There were signs everywhere and the basic setup was that patrons could use a Nintendo DS (dual-screen) to see a map of the museum and listen to information about the exhibits. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition of the antiquities in the museum and the novelty of technology.

As expected, the museum is quite large, and while we could have spent the entire week exploring every exhibit and taking pictures, I hope you'll understand why we did not. What follows are some of the many things we saw.

Once inside, we had to wait in yet another line to buy tickets, but it was short wait.

The Inverted Pyramid, as mentioned earlier. If you believe Dan Brown, there's something interesting under it.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

I really like the above picture. It looks like the painted ceiling should actually be a painting on the wall, so it gives the impression that the picture/scene should be rotated.

There was an entire floor dedicated to Egyptian antiquities. They were all extremely fascinating, however, I saw something which I could not "un-see". There were many depictions of people praying/praising gods and pharaohs, but to me, they looked like they were saying, "Whoa, whoa, calm down" with their hands up in warning. Made me laugh for the entire day.

Even a monkey can do it!

The above picture is interesting, not only on its own, and for its skillful work, but because if you look closely at the fish, well, you may laugh.

I think the above picture is rather fascinating. Everyone in the scene is receiving the Holy Spirit, except for one man. The tongues of fire are falling from Heaven, I presume, and are annointing everyone with the gifts from God. However, the one man in the painting who probably deserved it most, the one praying and showing tribute to God (on the far bottom left), is not receiving the Holy Spirit. Why? I find this mysterious and interesting. Wouldn't you agree?

A portrait of Diderot, French philosopher, writer, and art critic. I wonder what he would have thought of this?

A picture of a painting of the Louvre in the Louvre...Louvception!

I really like the ships and the Moon in this painting.
Madonna of Chancellor Rolin

There was an armoury of sorts, and I found it funny that my experience with Dungeons and Dragons gave me a decent understanding of weapons and armour.

The best photo of the Louvre Fortress...taken from inside the museum itself.

Finally, after seeing so much, Juliette and I made our way toward the Mona Lisa. This floor of the museum seemed designed just to funnel people that way, but I'm sure the impression was made more favourably by the crowd's progression than the actual design of the building itself. I admit that I wanted to see the Mona Lisa in person, but I also wasn't solely out to see it. There were many wonderful pieces of culture and history in this museum and I was happy to see each and every one.

Moving into a rather large, separate room, I saw this:

The Wedding at Cana
A rather large, impressive piece of work, no? I spent some time looking at it, admiring the complexity of the scene. Then, I turned around and saw this:

After all the hype, all the expectation, all the unspoken societal pressure, and there she was. I gently pushed my way to the front to get the best view I could. I was 1 metre away from one of the most famous pieces in the world. I stood there, admired it, then backed away and took the above picture. It was a strange combination of experiences. I mean, the Mona Lisa on its own does not seem that impressive, especially compared with the other pieces of art I had seen that day. But, it has attained such a status that it still carries an impressiveness to it. All in all, I am glad that I got to see it, and glad that I did not over-hype the work so as to be disappointed.

On our way out, a man starting tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Sir, sir!" I looked, saw that he wasn't wearing a uniform, and kept walking. Usually, I will find out what these people want, but I thought, "I don't know anyone in Paris, keep moving." Later, nearer the exit, we ran into him again.

"Please, will you take a picture with us?" He asks.
"You want me to take a picture of you?" I replied.
"No, with us, please. With my family." On queue, his wife and son appear out of the crowd, the wife admiring Juliette's long hair.
"Um...why?" I ask, very confused.
"We are Iranian, we want to show daughter we were here, in the Louvre." He smiles and hands his phone to his son.
"How about I take your picture, of your family? Why do you want us in the picture?"

And he responds, "For the memories."

With that, he and his wife stand on either side of Juliette and me. I am still suspicious, so I swing my bag to my front, put my hands in my pockets, and smile. They take their picture, I look at it, nothing weird, just a picture, they thank us, and we all move on. It was an amusing experience, made all the more amusing by the thought that this Iranian couple has one of the first pictures of Juliette and I together. We now jokingly look at each other and say, "For the memories" and burst out laughing.

And that concludes our time in the Louvre! Yes, we saw many things, but there was so much more. We spent an entire day in there, but barely covered the museum. Still, I am very glad I went and perhaps in the future I will go again. I hope you have enjoyed your visit here, thanks again. Next time, we'll see dinosaurs and comic books!

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