This story begins at Preparing your trip to Paris. This is the third part of this journey.
Musée du Louvre, or simply Le Louvre, is one of the biggest museum of the world and the biggest of France. In fact it's the museum most visited in the all world. It contains more than 460.000 works in an area of 210.000 square meters, from which 35.000 of them are shown in expositions to the public in an area of 66.600 square meters.
It is located in the core of the city, between the right side of the river Seine and Rivoli street, just in the first "arrondissement" of Paris. The building is an ancient royal palace that was first erected as a fortress in 1192 during the kingdom of Philippe Auguste, to protect the city from barbarian attacks.
With the years (it has a very long history, trust me) it was rebuilt several times to become a royal castle first and a palace after and finally, during the French revolution, was converted in a museum open to the public to show in expositions a lot of art works. But to be honest longtime before the kingdom of Louis XIV, the famous absolutist king of France, called Le Roi Soleil (The Sun King), the palace was used to host art works, but to be enjoyed only for royal and aristocratic eyes.
In fact king Charles V moved royal treasure to Louvre in 1317 and converted it in a royal residence. By the years kings bought art works from different origins: artists, aristocrats, collectionists, people having money problems, some not very transparent acquisitions, and probably some war prix, being some famous, collections acquired from cardinals Richeliu and Mazarin heritage. Also there were many diplomatic gifts.
In 1746, Éttiene La Font de Saint-Yenne, during the kingdom of Louis XIV, made first complaint asking to permit anyone to enjoy art works. This initiative culminated in an exposition open to the public between 1750 and 1779 having a great success. The crowd most beautiful art works were exposed in Luxembourg Palace.
First project to convert Le Louvre as a museum comes from 1775 led by marques de Marigny, buildings general manager of the kingdom, and his successor comte d'Angiviller. Of course, we don't know if they were thinking to open the museum to everyone or just to aristocrats. In fact they were thinking to open the gallery to everyone, people were sick to death of privilege and economic and political situation was very complicated at that time.
In 1793, year of king Louis XVI decapitation (he paid the piper being the most democratic king), Revolution put things where they had to be (long life to the democracy) and Le Palai du Louvre became museum to be enjoyed for everyone. Project was converted in law on July 27, 1793, because revolutions convert in law any issue. Was this beach private? Well, put it on constitution that all beaches are public! Talking seriously art works belonging to the monarchy were expropriated, translated to Louvre, and became a national treasure. It had to be this way, those kings were so absolutists that Louis XIV favorite phrase was: L'état c'est moi (I am the state). Have you imagined president Obama telling that?
For those interested in history and details the best review about the museum that I have read is in French (English version is not as good), just in Wikipedia. Really a very, very good and complete review. English version is here and French version here. Also it is interesting to know that almost all art works belonging to the Louvre are exposed in Internet where is called the Base Atlas, just here.
In this second day visiting Paris it's time to go to Le Grand Louvre. Why? Well, the museum is visited each year for almost 10 million people (2012) and any place visited this much should be interesting, isn't? Even if you don't like too much art works the visit is amazing. Just plan your day to go by métro to Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre station, lines 1 and 7. Being there walk out and ask someone to tell you where Musée du Louvre is. It's just 4 minutes walking from the station. Have your piece of paper with names written if you don't feel comfortable speaking in French.
Being close first you will see is the crystal pyramid; have a look to the picture above by night, oh, Paris, I really love you, believe me! It's the entrance point to museum. Having your Paris Pass card you don't have to pay avoiding the ticket queue.
Well, time to begin this long journey. Do not be foolish yourself. Louvre is really big, as all royal French monuments, churches, castles and palaces. Depending on your interest and time expent enjoying each work it's easy to be there several days to visit all rooms. Le Louvre could deserve a special journey to Paris to know it well. As all in this life you could eat an elephant but cutting it in pieces and going little by little. But just in a day? Impossible, even being a lions pride. Louvre has eight sections or departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
These sections are distributed in three areas accessible via an escalator from the Napoleon hall, located under the pyramid. The three areas are: Richelieu, along the Rue de Rivoli, Denon, along the Seine River and Sully that unfolds around the Cour Carrée.
I was thinking the best way to present all information about this monster to my readers. Not an easy task at all. But even worst. By words. My God, how? Le Louvre is really big! Searching on Internet I found the solution. Oh, Internet, how could we live without you? I was imagining myself living 50 years ago. Really boring to find information. Well, searching I found these pictures of our monster that help better than 1000 words. Thanks to this incredible site: http://theotherparis.net. Click to zoom images.
As you see there are four floors to go but looking at the pictures we can identify the eight sections. Because it's very difficult to visit all of them in just a day I do recommend to select two or three to visit quietly. If you have more time and want to spend more days visiting the museum then select several other and plan your visit for a longer time.
If you do not have any idea where to start (same as me) the same Musée du Louvre recommends 24 Selected Works, what they call Masterpieces. Have a look at Masterpieces, Louvre Museum, Paris. Good chance and happy visit.
P.S. I'm very happy writing about Paris. Be in contact. Follow me in twitter at @leoballiache. Write me when you like. I'm to help you.
Here a complete list of best Paris Tours.
Do not miss
- Best Towns in France
- Le Puy en Velay
- Baume les Messieurs
- Sainte Eulalie d'Olt
- La Roque Gageac
- La Bastide Clairence
- Preparing your trip to Paris
- Visiting Île de la Cité
- Where to find the best France Tour
- Group Travel vs Single Travel
- How to be happy in Le Moulin Rouge
- A medieval day in Bruges
- Holiday Apartments in Europe
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