Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Louvre

No talk about Paris is ever complete without a mention of the most prestigious palace of Paris - the Louvre. More recently it was also featured as the location for the plot of the very famous Da Vinci Code. Divided into 3 wings - Denon, Sully and Richelieu, Louvre is indeed one of the best museums of the world.

Following is a picture of the famous pyramid entry designed by I M Pei and the Richelieu wing to its side. It does seem too modern an entry for something that is so steeped in history but it added to its beauty nonetheless.

The Pyramid and the Richelieu Wing

Sunit and I had a day allocated for our trip to this one. But were we underestimating the treasures that reside here! The long halls, the beautiful paintings, sculptures - all were intimidating and at the same time awe inspiring. To think that one place could hold so much of history was just mind boggling. We could have easily spent 2-3 days more here and that is actually the time one needs to do justice to this place. But though we love art and architecture, we knew we must do our rounds in a day. So we decided to concentrate on the famed Italian works of art and see whatever of the museum we could while tracing those.

The Marly's Courtyard

The Marly's Courtyard was this huge expansive courtyard with a glass roof, loads of sunlight, magnificent sculptures and very less crowd :-) I really liked this place.

A Painting Exhibition Hall at Louvre

As I said the halls at the museum are really huge. Look at this picture - and it shows only one half of the huge hall housing some of the big Renaissance pieces. And there were many of such halls to be walked. I remember walking through the museum for straight 2.5 hours before sitting down to catch a breath - We wanted to see as much as we could of this place.

We did start though with visiting the most famed resident at the museum - the Mona Lisa. So much has been said about it and so much has been written about it, yet when we actually got to see the painting and noticed how small it was compared to some of the other huge wall covering and more elaborate pieces, we had to just guess - Maybe it was that enigmatic mystery smile, that must be it :-). There was a long line to see this beauty but we got only 10 minutes to see her once we did reach her. Sunit managed to click this picture without a flash - that was one of the restrictions - no pictures could be taken with a flash on throughout the museum.

The Mona Lisa

Talking about the Mona Lisa, I think its also worth mentioning that the Louvre hosts one of the biggest collections of Leonardo Da Vinci and when I say so, I mean not just his paintings but also his pencil sketches, his drawings for various gadgets and instruments, some of his writings, etc.
This last picture is of the "Mona Lisa" of the sculpture world - Venus De Milo. She stood tall and gracious in all white marble.

Venus De Milo

While Sunit and I spent a lot of time marvelling at the Italian and Renaissance treasures since those interested us the most, the museum also holds huge Egyptian, Asian and African collections. And since the museum was actually a palace before, also on display are the actual residential quarters of Napolean, Dauphine etc. We came back feeling we had been touched by history.

If you are an art fanatic or even if you have a tiny-miny interest in art, then a visit to this grand museum is a must while you are in Paris. Plan on spending atleast a day and more if you have the time. Louvre is easily accessible by Metro and Batobus. Oh and there are some food shops and some museum shops in the basement that sell pretty good and reasonable prints of some of the paintings. We found the food shops a bit pricy though.