Another Day, Another Musee

Sunday, October 20, 2013 Road Junkies 0 Comments

European Adventure, Day 17

PARIS, France—The world's most visited museum was our agenda for today.  With more than 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century on exhibit in an area of more than 652,000 square feet, the Louvre seemed sufficient to fill our day.  It has been said that it would take one nine months to just glance at every object on display there.
When we arrived, we took our place at the end of a very long line.  Before long, the rain that had been threatening began to fall, totally unconcerned that we were all queued up for an indefinite wait.
The line moved steadily and fairly quickly but we were very glad to be prepared with protection from the wet.
An interesting conversation with some fellow tourists in the queue helped pass the time, and soon we had reached the entrance.
Once we were inside, we joined another line to purchase tickets.  In a dry environment!
A large sign where visitors board the escalator that sweeps you up to the exhibit areas minces no words about the city's problem with pickpockets.  A guard at the Eiffel Tower warned us specifically despite the multitude of signs posted there also.
The Louvre Museum is housed in a former palace originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century.  Walking through what would have been the moat around the palace, visitors catch a glimpse of its ancient walls.
Many additions were made over the years by various monarchs.  The museum opened in 1793 and within four years, its most famous work of art had been hung in the Louvre's galleries.  Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the early 1500s, Mona Lisa has been on permanent exhibit at the Louvre since 1797.  Like so many of her visitors, we were surprised when we first saw the dimensions of the painting—only 2' 6" x 1' 9".
Size isn't everything, as this popular lady proves, and we admired the painting as much as all the others who were crowded around to pay their homage.  The immeasurably valuable painting is enclosed in a glass case, and visitors are not permitted to approach near the lady.
Throughout the exhibit halls, signage constantly reminds visitors to mind their possessions while perusing works of art such as the Crypt of the Sphinx.
Even the Venus de Milo, one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture, was not immune from sharing her exhibit space with one of the thievery alert banners.
One of the first ancient statues to arrive in France, this sculpture of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, was a gift from Pope Paul IV to French king Henri II in 1556.  It adorned numerous royal residences before finding a permanent home in the Louvre.
Some rooms in the Louvre are still decorated and furnished as they were in the early 19th century when this building was connected to Tuileries Palace.  The sumptuous grande salon outshone anything we have seen on this trip—even at Versailles.
Opulence was certainly the order of the day in the Salon Theatre as well.
These curved three-seaters were certainly conducive to stimulating conversation.
With seating for forty and an unmistakable air of elegance, the grand dining room is on the short list for our next family reunion.  Hopefully, the Louvre management will be willing to negotiate an appropriate fee.
The Louvre houses a few crown jewels from the French monarchy but nothing to rival what we saw in the British collection at the Tower of London.
Furnishings from the bedroom of Charles X would not make it on Design on a Dime.  In its original room in the palace, this was a ceremonial bed where the king usually did not sleep.  What types of ceremonies he held there were not specified.
After one last photo(bomb) in front of the Louvre, we departed and walked through Tuileries Gardens as storm clouds gathered.
The rain held off until we boarded the Metro at Concorde but was pouring down when we exited the train back at Montmarte.
On our way back to the apartment, we were unable to resist the refuge of La Marmite, offering a dry haven and food to slake our hunger.
Unsure what to expect as we didn't bother to consult any reviews, we were pleasantly surprised with the generous portions of good food.  Ken and I had (huge) vegetarian salads, while Jeanne tried out a French version of barbecue chicken—half a roasted chicken with a barbecue sauce on the side.  She rated it quite good.
On our walk from the restaurant back to the apartment, we marveled at the ability of the French to parallel park—and wondered why so many cars here have dings and dents on all four corners.

Ms. Magnolia's Manners Tip of the Day:
"When parking your car on the street in Paris, try to leave a few inches in front or behind your car.  You may save another driver from a new dent."