Day 5: Musee du Louvre!

After polishing off a much-needed lunch, we were ready to brave the massiveness of the Louvre, but first noticed this poor guy with a much more massive task than we had.

Do you think that’s his entire job?  He hand-washes and squeegees the entire pyramid, and then starts all over again?  We imagined it might be, given the amount of time it would take to get the whole thing finished.  (Next time we saw him, several hours later, he had made it a significant distance across the pyramid, so maybe it isn’t as bad as we feared.)

We approached our afternoon at the Louvre with a couple of specific goals, knowing that there’s no possible way to see the entire thing (at over 650,000 square feet).  First we I wanted to visit the famous items, just because we were there and we could … so we did.

(The security around the Mona Lisa is quite a sight: it’s behind a thick piece of glass, surrounded by a large platform/shelf, surrounded by permanent wooden viewing barrier, surrounded by a third moveable barricade, surrounded by plenty of museum guards.  It’s the most-viewed painting in the museum, but you can barely see it at all.  We maneuvered in to get a photo, and left.

We also looked at some of the other paintings in the room, and wondered how the artists would feel about their paintings’ situations.  Glad that they’re hanging in the Louvre at all, or sorry that millions of people walk by them each year, but barely look at them because THE MONA LISA is 30 feet away?  Glad that at least they’re in such a popular room, instead of a tiny alcove with 4 other paintings on the 4th floor into which visitors step, glance left and right for three seconds, and leave?)

I also had never heard of the excavated remains of previous incarnations of the building that you can tour in the basement, and to me, that sounded pretty awesome.  It actually turned out to be a great plan – we needed a break from the crowds after having seen the most popular items, and this underground secret was cool and quiet – perfect.

The one must-see item (for me) that we hadn’t yet viewed was the Code of Hammurabi (one of the first written sets of laws), so we headed that direction next, through the statue courtyard…

If you are having difficulty deciphering this photo, allow me translate: “You’re doing WHAT with that camera, AGAIN?”  In the second photo I took here, John’s face clearly indicates a plot to accidentally sever the camera’s wrist strap as it hangs precariously over the marble floor.  I looked at the preview of that one, and decided it was time to move on.

My photography theme for the museum was Animals, and I found a few good ones as we moved through the statuary.

We soon reached the Code, where we learned that the laws included such harsh punishments as “if a son hits his father, his hand will be cut off.”

No word on what happens if a wife makes her husband pose for 157 self-portraits in one day …

… but at least he’s back to smiling!

(Apart from being famous and old, this was very interesting to see.  The stele on which it’s written is supposed to be shaped like a human finger, but human-sized – I don’t think I picked up on that when we learned about it in Ancient History.  But I most enjoyed looking at the ancient cuneiform writing up close.)

Our third Louvre goal was to see the palace apartments of Napoleon III; this was another mini-stop on my mini-literary tour of Paris.  Of course, the decorations have changed over time, but seeing it in some sort of ornate glory helped to put a visual to stories of royal intrigue.

Our fourth and last goal was to see the works of the Dutch masters.  This was John’s pick, since we would be spending the second half of our vacation in Holland, and it was a great choice – the stairway leading up the the wing was very elegant …

… and once there, we saw many beautiful and wonderful paintings.  As you may have noticed I haven’t been posting photos of paintings here (although I may later) but since we didn’t see sculptures up here, I’ll post a few.  This one I like because it represents the second half of our trip – and Holland – pretty well. Skating and a windmill!

And this one with a dog and a couple of cows is a good sample of my photographic theme for the afternoon….

After finishing the loop of Holland, Flanders, and the Netherlands, we were worn out and ready to leave.  The museum is open late on Wednesdays so there was no real need for us to rush out, but we were tired and verging on overwhelmed, and had achieved our goals for the afternoon.  We headed out into the warm air of our last evening in Paris, to spend the hour before our dinner strolling through the garden and the city.

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5 thoughts on “Day 5: Musee du Louvre!

    • Thanks mom! I really enjoyed trying to stick to the theme, and looking at the art through a specific filter – and I’m glad you liked the result. I have plenty more photos from this excursion (where non-flash photography was allowed) that I will probably post a little of from time to time….

      I was also excited to learn of the excavated dungeon underneath, and that some of the palace was actually decorated as a palace. I hadn’t known either of those things until John recommended them to me! And actually, the remains of the medieval louvre were only discovered in the mid-80s, so they may not even have been available for touring last time you were there. I imagine it took a while to excavate them and put up the boardwalk and everything…

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