The Louvre, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps

I decide to go visit the Louvre again on Saturday.  This is a view of the enclosed courtyard at the east end of the building.  It is hard to comprehend just how big this museum is, it covers almost 15 acres.

DSC02417The Louvre was originally a fortress built in 1190, but it was rebuilt in the 16th century to be a royal palace which continued to be expanded over the years. The Louvre became an art museum in 1793, when Louis XIV moved to Versailles. It is now the largest museum in the world.

The Louvre contains 35,000 works of art on display, divided into eight departments: the Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings and Prints and Drawings.

It is impossible to see all of this museum in one day.  Even walking through all its galleries in one day would be a challenge, never mind actually stopping to look at the art.  Many of the paintings are very large, as is The Pentecote, 1732 by Jean Restoutst.  There weren’t many people in this room so I was able to set up my little gorilla pod and take my own picture.

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It is easy to be mesmerized by the art on display but I also found it interesting to remember to look up and to look past the art work to see the palace itself. Here are some photos that remind us that the Louvre was first and foremost a royal palace, and what a palace!.

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The Apollo gallery.  I love the red walls and remembered this room from our last visit eight years ago.

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This is the Grand Gallery!  and the picture below is about halfway down this long room.  If you double click the photo to enlarge it and look closely you can just make out the statue above the heads of the people in the picture above, and then the Gallery continues way past the statue!

DSC02466In a side room off off the Grand Gallery is the painting most people come to the Louvre to see.  La Joconde, more commonly known as the Mona Lisa.

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It is behind bullet proof glass now, and is pretty much always surrounded by hordes of people, most of whom are very surprised, and sometimes disappointed,  at the rather small size of this very famous painting.

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This is Eugene Delacroix’s The Death of  Sardanapalus, just one of many familiar paintings. After seeing these paintings in my books for so many years it is wonderful to be able to stand before the actual works.  I spend about four hours here and then head off to visit a couple other Paris landmarks.

First, The Galeries Lafayette, this incredible dome is located in the main store, which has nine floors and covers an entire city block.  There are two other stores, connected by walkways, each of which also covers a city block!  This place is enormous, and very crowded with shoppers.

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A view looking down onto the perfume, makeup and fashion accessories floor.

DSC02478The shoe department covers one entire floor.  The floors are divided into ‘mini stores’ where each designer has their own displays and sales people. There are so many people shopping that the escalators are absolutely jammed with people all the time.  I find It  totally overwhelming, there is no way I would be able to shop here, and after taking a few pictures I leave.

I head down the block to Printemps, thinking that it might be a bit smaller and easier to look around.

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… but it is just as big and almost as busy. Here is the floor map of Printemps, again three stores connected by walkways, each store a city block long and wide.

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I am definitely not a shopper!  I spent less than an hour in these stores and that was more than enough for me.

I find a little sidewalk cafe and stop for a much needed meal and a pot of tea.  This mural is on the building across the street.  The guy in the corner was my very charming French waiter.

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On the way to the Metro I stop in to visit a little church, Saint-Louis D’Antin but there is a service taking place so I don’t want to walk around and just snap a photo from the entrance.  Even the small churches are very beautiful.

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Here are just a few of the goodies I saw on display today.  They look scrumptious, but not for me…  I did have one raspberry tart today at the Louvre.  It was the only time I ate something that I shouldn’t have on this trip.  It is really almost impossible to find desserts that do not have gluten, egg or dairy.  Strangely, I didn’t feel deprived, or really want to eat bread, cheese or pastries.  I know if I eat these things I don’t feel well and I think that knowledge takes away the temptation, but I did enjoy looking at the displays.

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