Day Three!!! The best and last day in Paris (I flew home on the fourth day). One of our biggest splurges on this trip was a private guided tour of the Louvre. Curtis and I both love museums and looking at art so we knew we wanted to get the most out of our time in this, the largest museum in the world. We learned the day before that the Louvre hosts some 35,000 pieces of artwork and would take several weeks to see all of the art. This personal tour would take about 2.5-3 hours and would show us four major works with short forays along the way to each piece.
Model of the Louvre
Our tour guide, Honoré, picked us up at our hotel around 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. He was from South Africa and had a very heavy accent. Attending with us was a newlywed couple from Australia… Jessica and John… they were already in the car and they were so so sweet. We arrived and parked in the Louvre‘s parking garage, then entered this lobby area where a to-scale replica of the Louvre was on display. The pyramid in the front lines up with the Egyptian obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, as well as the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Elysées. We got a short history of the museum and learned we were standing in an area that used to be a moat!
As we made our way from the underground garage and the Hall Napoléon, we walked under an inverted pyramid on our way to the museum entrance. Believe it or not, there is a full shopping mall located off of these hallways… there was even an Apple store! We bought a couple of gifts for kids from the Louvre stores.
We entered the Information Desk area that is located under the large outside pyramid, then we made our official entry (complete with a full security check) into the museum. It was not very busy yet since it was just after 9 a.m. Honoré had given us each a pair of headphones and a small device so that we could hear him throughout our tour. Little did I realize just how crowded it would become! You can see Honore leading John, then Jessica just to the right in the foreground.
First Amazing Ceiling
As we walked into the first section of the Louvre, we looked up and saw the first of many amazing ceilings. Just like the streets of Paris, the entire museum itself was a work of art. Curtis and I had a hard time keeping moving… everything caught our attention just like little kids. Look at that, look at this!
Flanking the Door
The very first room we went into, the Salle des Caryatides, had magnificent Greek sculptures. As we entered the room, I turned around and got this photo of the massive sculptures flanking the doors. There were four of these women lined up.
Grand Hall of Sculptures
You can see it was still early and not very busy. I felt so lucky to be in this grand hall full of amazing sculptures and not have to share it with many people. It took my breath away!
This is the Diana of Versailles sculpture. This is a marble copy, the original is thought to be made of bronze, sculpted by Leochares around 325 BC. Well known as an accomplished archer, this sculpture depicts Diana the huntress, with her buck by her side.
Silensus with Infant Dionysos
Facing Diana’s sculpture, we see the Silenus with Infant Dionysos sculpture. Silenus is a companion and tutor to the baby, the God of Wine, Dionysis, whom he cradles in his arms.
Directly behind Silenus is this impressive and massive fireplace. Just look at the intricate leaves, fruit, designs, and animals that adorn the mantel. It is hard to take in the scale and detail and really get a true sense of it, but trust me… it was amazing.
The Venus de Milo
Finally we arrive at our first of four major works… the Venus de Milo, also known as Aphrodite. She sits atop a pedestal and is behind a square enclosure. The museum was just starting to fill up, so I was able to be patient and get a photo with no one else in the frame. It was surreal to look up at her, such a famous work of art. The Venus de Milo is actually not a complete piece, her arms are missing (obviously), and she is actually comprised of several pieces pegged together. No one actually knows who sculpted her or when.
Going On and On
Look at this long long long hall of busts, one room going into the next… just amazing. More on the ceiling in the next image. I LOVE that I got this woman standing just past the first doorway… I love her pose, her isolation, and where she is in the frame. When I saw her standing there, I was hoping to get the shot before she moved or anyone else walked by. Yay!
Second Amazing Ceiling
Once I got over my shock and took a breath again after seeing this long long hall of busts and sculptures, my eyes wandered up to the golden glow. This ceiling was so incredibly beautiful. Full-relief cherubs pop out of the ceiling and frolic amongst the paintings. All done in a golden hue, it was a remarkable sight to behold.
The details couldn’t be fully appreciated in the moment. Our tour guide is chattering to us in a heavy accent though our headphones, we are trying to keep up with him, yet wonder after wonder steals our attention. I couldn’t help but stop and photograph the entrance to this room… I mean, just look! It’s so vibrant and rich. I love how the little cherub sculpture is sitting in a seashell while the women hold up the vine around him.
As we headed to our second major work, we went through a room of Roman sculptures. This is Melpomene, known as the Muse of Tragedy and Singing, from around 50 BC, and she is the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Melpomene is almost 13 feet tall! Can you see the tourists behind her on the staircase? She was mounted on a large pedestal and I barely came up to her toes.
Winged Victory of Samothrace
We arrive at our second major work, the Winged Victory of Samothrace. This sculpture sits in a landing area of several staircases that all lead to and away from this magnificent piece, and there were throngs of people all around it. And I mean throngs. Sculpted in the second century by the Greek, this piece honors the Greek goddess, Nike and is thought to honor winning a sea battle as well.
Winged Victory Perspective
To give you some perspective on this magnificent piece, I purposely left some people in the lower right part of the frame. The Winged Victory of Samothrace is massive!
View from the Inside
As we finished up the sculptures part of our tour, we passed by a window to the outside. Even though I shot this through a window, I’m still happy that I got a shot of the outside pyramid from the inside. The only other image I have of the outside pyramid isn’t one of Curtis and me standing in front of it… nope. It’s from inside a moving taxi cab once I realized I had forgotten to take a picture of it. LOL.
The next series of images will include the Galerie d’Apollon and the Spanish and Italian paintings as we see famous works numbers three and four. Once we finished the Louvre, we took a taxi to lunch over by Notre Dame. Au revoir for now!