Louvre: Love It or Leave It

Today we returned to the Louvre to visit the museum (free passes, thanks to our exchange hosts, Frédérique and Virginie!).

Here’s the “new” main entrance (through the big glass pyramid) in the Cour Napoléon, opened in 1989, with the Denon wing of the Louvre in the background.

Looking further to the right, you can see the extension of the Denon wing and the Pavillon de Flore (the Seine River is behind it), and continuing to the right is the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel that we walked past when we strolled through the Tuileries Garden the other day.

Inside the museum, we bought audio guides (which, once again, we didn’t use), then we headed straight to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (painted around 1503) to get that out of the way.

The Louvre is supposedly the most-visited museum in the world, displaying over 35,000 objects and averaging more than 8 million visitors every year. I think about half of those visitors are Chinese and they were all here today, squeezing in to get a picture of the Mona Lisa:

This is one of the times that it pays to be 6-feet tall; I followed a Chinese woman who was shoving her way to the front railing, then raised my camera over the heads of the tourists in front of me to take this picture of the famous painting:

We really have grown weary of the crowds and were ever-so-happy to find that they apparently refuse to climb stairs, staying, instead, on the lower levels. We ascended to the top floor where the European paintings are exhibited.

The painting collection at the Louvre has more than 7,500 works from the 13th century to 1848; the works after that date have all been transferred to the Musée d’Orsay, including, of course, the Impressionist paintings.

When we were here previously (back when the novel about Vermeer, “The Girl with the Pearl Earring,” was popular), we visited the collection of Dutch Masters and similar works. This time, we wanted to see the classic French painters and German artists.

In addition to painting water-colors, I have done a little studio sketching and one of the artists that is admired by most sketching artists, including me, is Albrecht Dürer, renown as the greatest German Renaissance artist – sort of the Leonardo da Vinci of Germany (Dürer and da Vinci were contemporaries, though they never met; Dürer did meet Martin Luther, however).

Lucky for me, the Louvre has several of Dürer’s works. Here’s his gouache water color, View of Arco (1495):

Unlike Tuesday when it was cool, the August heat is now upon us. That, coupled with the crowds, was reason enough for us to make it a relatively short day at the Louvre, so we left in the mid-afternoon and went back to the apartment for the rest of the day.

You might have noticed that I didn’t have a post for Wednesday; it was our 31st anniversary and we decided to celebrate it by…not…doing…anything – the first time we’ve just chilled for the entire day since we left home over 9 weeks ago!

But I did take a couple photos from the terrace of the apartment to remember the occasion: the Basilica Sacre Cœr on Montmarte (behind the gold dome of Le Invalides)…

…and the Eiffel Tower, once again.

Paris is certainly a romantic city.

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