A visit to the Louvre Museum

The famous Louvre Pyramid designed by IM Pei

The famous Louvre Pyramid designed by IM Pei

No visit to Paris is complete without a trip to the Louvre Museum, home of the Mona Lisa and one of the biggest tourist attractions in France, drawing 8 million visitors annually. Now I’m not one for art or spending hours wandering around museums but I have to say it was a pretty enjoyable way of passing a few hours. Top Tip: Entry into the museum is normally €11 but there’s free entry on the first Sunday of every month, same also applies to the Arc de Triomphe.

At first I was more interested in the building itself than the displays held inside. The building is a former palace with the museum opening in 1793 after Louis XIV moved out. It contains works from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and many many more artists that I know nothing about and don’t have enough of an understanding of.

Details on the roof and walls of the Richelieu Wing of the building

Details on the roof and walls of the Richelieu Wing of the building

I really love how old architecture meets new with the addition of the famous IM Pei-designed Pyramids in 1988. Overcrowding at the museum’s old entrance called for the addition of a new entrance hall that could accommodate the growing number of visitors. The successful design was highly controversial at the time as critics felt that the modernist addition would ruin the aesthetics of the historic building. Entrance to the museum is through the main pyramid in the centre of the courtyard. From there visitors are fed underground to a large open lobby which then ferries visitors from the centre point to each of the Louvre’s three main wings. It’s a clever design that fixed the overcrowding and provides for an efficient distribution of the thousands of visitors who visit the Louvre daily.

Ever wondered what's under the Louvre's main Pyramid?

Ever wondered what’s under the Louvre’s main Pyramid?

Since I didn’t really have much interest or knowledge on the various star attractions in the galleries, I followed the signs for the one painting I did know of, The Mona Lisa. On my way there I was captivated by the interior of the building:

louvre-stairs.JPG

When I got to the gallery housing the Mona Lisa it was full of tourists snapping a this small painting of a woman with no eyebrows.

louvre-ml-mona-lisaHere she is!

The Mona Lisa, a little smaller than you might expect

The Mona Lisa, a little smaller than you might expect

I don’t know why it gets so much attention, especially when there are more dramatic paintings in the same room, such as these below:  louvre-ml-painting1 louvre-ml-painting2

Next stop was Napoleons apartment. This was a facinating look at the grandeur that the French leader lived in in the late 1800s. You can imagine the dinner parties hosted in the grand dining room with its massive table seating 40 dignitaries. louvre-napoleon3.JPG

The throne room reminded me of the White House’s Oval Office:louvre-napoleon5.jpg louvre-napoleon4.JPG louvre-napoleon2.jpg louvre-napoleon1.jpgI have to say I enjoyed the Louvre more than I had expected. I initially went in to tick the Mona Lisa off my list of things to visit but I really enjoyed exploring the vast building and its many treasures. Definitely recommended.

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