15.11.2012 - 15.11.2012 8 °C
It's like no other museum in the world, attracting 9 million annually to view its huge collection (or, more likely, parts of it). Apparently, the Louvre has over 35,000 items on display; alas, we only saw 21, 405 of them. Upon arrival, we thought we should take in the most popular picture (the Mona Lisa) before the crowds filled her room. It was smaller than you might think but we relished her perfect smile (some say smirk) and mesmirizing eyes nonetheless. While Abby liked the painting, she actually felt there were more impressive works, namely, The Wedding at Cana, the largest in the museum at 10 metres across -- it shares a room with Mona. We took in most of the Italian paintings, some of the French portraiture and visited the Northern European painters as well (Durer and Flanders are two I remember). While the paintings are definitely a highlight, we also appreciated the statuary, both the early Greek works as well as the eighteenth century French sculptures which were based on the Grecian style. I enjoyed viewing the Venus Di Milo (would she have been as famous with arms?) and the Winged Victory of Samothrace; however, there were many intriguing lesser-known sculptures as well, many in violent death throes and various states of undress ("What's the point of that?", asks my daughter). Grand beyond description, the museum's rooms are artwork in themselves. It was a pleasure just sitting (especially sitting) and letting our eyes roam around the ornate cornices and beautiful ceilings.
Near the end of our stay, we popped into what are known as the Napoleon III apartments (although he never actually stayed there; they are named after the Napoleonic style of the times). They are so incredibly ornate, with every patch of wall and ceiling devoted to gold leaf, glass, painting or gleaming wood. The chandeliers would have the Phantom of the Opera salivating. We all wondered just a bit what it would be like to have attended a meal in the beautiful formal dining room.
We got to the museum shortly after opening and stayed there for five hours. We could have stayed longer except our legs and spirits started flagging so thought it best to listen to our circadian clocks and make it an early day. So as not to belabour the point, I'll accept that 'a picture says a thousand words" and let you enjoy the attached photos -- you may see something new that you like as well.
On our way home, we sent Hannah out to the neighbourhood boulangerie to buy the ubiquitous baquette and a treat for dessert. The goodies she came home with! ... a chocolate tart, a nut confection loaded with caramel and a meringue sandwiching layers of coconut and cream, arguably the best meringue we've tasted (albeit Abby was quick to say that she preferred the ones her sister makes instead). This is fast becoming our bakery of choice -- Ben ran out early this morning and relieved the boulangerie of some brioche, pain du chocolate, and chausson aux pommes, the latter being the French version of the apple turnover. We've noticed that there exists a boulangerie within two blocks of any Parisien; we doubt that the Atkins diet made many inroads here.
Again, all we can say is that Paris is over the top -- in everything.