The Louvre nearly killed us. It’s a gigantic French Renaissance style palace- an incredible 60,600 square metres. There are thousands and thousands of artworks on display (about 35,000 in fact from pre-history to the 19th century). You could probably spend years looking at it all and there’d still be more. The collections range from European painting and prints to Egyptian, Islamic, Oriental and Greek antiquities. It’s the most popular museum in Europe, probably made more popular as the new pyramid addition (1979) plays a major role in the film of the Dan Brown book ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Go as early as you can to avoid most of the tourists and school groups. We got there at about 9.30am which was quite a good time to view art. Not too many people.
For the first two hours we followed our plan and visited all the artworks that you must see, ie the Aphrodite, Dying Slave, Leonardos etc. It really is an fantastic experience seeing them all outside of a book. After that artworks start going by in a blur. Some highlights for me. Seeing Botticelli frescoes. The Italian primitives. Rembrandt landscapes. Everything really. I never thought that much of Leonardo da Vinci but the paintings are actually incredibly magical in real life. They’re like looking into the depths of a pond and seeing someone materialise magically on the surface of the water. They deserve their status. You’re half a mile away from the Mona Lisa and behind bullet proof glass but it still emanates beauty and harmony and it is worth going to Paris for.
You’re not meant to eat or drink in there but at some point just like you’ve been running a marathon, you’re starving and thirsty and need somewhere to sit. But there was only one tiny cafe which was of course closed and virtually no seating. What were they thinking? You’re forced to leave the museum proper and line up with the thousands of other tourists all wanting to eat and drink, at virtually the only fast food places in the whole of central Paris. After that experience you need silence so we went back to the hotel and slept for the rest of the day. Don’t even think about doing anything else.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-1519) behind bullet proof glass. Oil on panel.
Inside one of the Louvre galleries
Delacroix ‘Liberty leading the People’ 1830 Oil on canvas. It’s huge!
Michelangelo’s ‘Dying Slave’ (1513-1516). Beautiful.
Fra Angelico. ‘Coronation of the Virgin’ (c1434) Tempera on panel. 213 x 211cm Peace and love emanates from his paintings in real life.
Egyptian. Seated scribe. Painted limestone. c 2600
Bridge over the Seine, Paris.
The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
‘The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.’
Leonardo da Vinci