To say that the Louvre is huge is probably an understatement. Wikipedia describes it as ‘one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world’ and home to over 35000 works of art, ranging from pre-history to modern times. Entering the place as we did via a passageway from the Palais Royale-Musee de Louvre metro station did not prepare us for the sheer size and magnificence of the place.
We finally got to see works of art that we had only seen in books - life-like sculptures, beautiful paintings, delicate glassware, and the list goes on … Here are just a few of my personal favourites:
Venus de Milo
Winged victory of Samothrace
Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
What, to me, felt even more enchanting that seeing these masterpieces face to face was the thought that I was walking in the footsteps of the Sun King. It was easy to imagine Louis XIV with his impeccably curled wig, his rich clothes, his high heeled shoes and with hundreds of courtiers and ladies surrounding him, mincing his way across the marble floors of this sumptuous palace.
What I had a hard time coming to terms with was how people found their way around this enormous place. I kept wondering whether they used to carry a map, like I was doing. Or perhaps living in the same place, day in day out, ensured that they had no problems navigating their way around.
Of course, Louis XIV considered the Louvre to be too small and dingy for his grand tastes, so he built the palace of Versailles. Which begs the question, how big, exactly, is Versailles?
After 4 hours of sheer art overdose, we decided that we couldn’t take anymore. It really is physically and mentally impossible to see the Louvre in a day. We exited through the Louvre Pyramid a structure built in 1988 to house the new visitor’s centre.
Architecturally, the Louvre is as imposing on the outside as it is on the inside. Even the grey clouds and rain that greeted us as we walked out could do nothing to dispel the sense of regality that the place exudes. It is sumptuous, over the top and majestic. A bit like its last royal owner, I suppose.