Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paris Day 3!

The Sunday of that weekend was my last day in Paris. My train was leaving around 8 pm, so I had most of the day to explore with my dad. The morning was a little overcast as you can see from the image below.

For today, my dad and I decided to dedicate most of our day to exploring the Louvre. From our hotel, we walked over to the museum. The trek only took about half an hour.

Right in front of the Louvre, there's a small arch. In the background you can see the glass pyramid. Unsurprisingly the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. The museum is composed of 3 separate wings that house over 35,000 objects ranging from 6th century BC to the 19th century. In total, the floor plan spans about 652,300 square feet. It is impossible to see everything in the museum. I imagine you could spend a week here and still not see everything.

The museum was absolutely packed with tour groups from all over the world.

It's interesting to note that the entrances to each wing are centered around the glass pyramid.

In the above image you see the glass pyramid from the inside. Stairs lead you below ground level and then on three edges of the square pyramid are the entrances to the exhibits.

Since there are such vast collections of antiquities at the Louvre, I'll only mention the major pieces that we saw.

The first major piece we ran into was the Venus de Milo.

The original spot where the sculpture was stored is undergoing renovation, so it was temporarily placed in a small hallway. As a result, the crowd in front of the statue was massively large. We essentially had to wait and push our way through to the front to take pictures. Anyway, this marble sculpture spans 6'8" and was sculpted sometime between 130 and 100 BC. The mystery of the statue is derived from her missing arms, which were lost along with the original stage on which the statue stood.

Our next stop was Winged Victory. The pathway to the statue was surprisingly majestic. A staircase rises up past an arch and focuses solely on this piece.

I know the picture is pretty blurry. The museum in general was a little dark and my camera had a hard time focusing. I think you can get the idea though.

While my dad and I were admiring the sculpture, museum workers actually cleared out the entire area of people. They made everyone move into the 2nd room away from the statue so that the area was absolutely clear down to the stairs before Winged Victory. I wasn't quite sure of the reason for this but my dad hypothesized that they need to do this in order to clear the area of lingering people so that the crowd can continue to move. Makes sense to me I guess.

On the way to see the Mona Lisa, we ran into this rather morbid painting.

There's a cleaver sliced half way into the man's head...

Anyway, we finally made our way into the room that features Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. I suspect it's the most famous painting in the world, but I'm guessing others may beg to differ based on preference. Oh well, to each their own.

The painting was in the least optimum environment to capture a good photograph. First of all, there's a barricade that circles the painting that prevents people from getting within 10 feet of it. Secondly, it's enclosed in a a glass casing, making flash photography/red-eye prevention flashes reflect off the surface. Lastly, there's an eager mob of probably 50 people all shoving their way closer to the barricade, pushing people out their way and jabbing shoulders with cameras trying to capture the perfect angle. I was practically sweating by the time I got to the front of the crowd since the museum was so hot and everyone was packed in like sardines.

From the picture above you can see that it's true what people say about the painting being surprisingly small.

Afterwards we then found the Dying Slave sculpted by Michelangelo between 1513 and 1516.

I'm assuming the back side of the sculpture was nude based on the kid's surprised response on the left.

There was also a large sculpture garden nearby.

We also saw the stone on which Hammurabi's Code is inscribed.

The code dates back to about 1790 BC. It's quite miraculous to be standing next to such history.

In the Egyptian antiquities section there's a sitting statue of Ramses.

I touched this one too!

There were also a couple sphinxes.

After walking around the museum for hours, my dad and I decided to stop at the museum restaurant for a late lunch. The food was surprisingly cheap considering it was a museum restaurant. It was also quite good.

I got a steak with potatoes.

For dessert, I got a spongy cake filled with custard and fresh strawberries.

We walked around the museum a little bit more afterwards. We already hit all the major pieces, so I'm not going to elaborate on the rest of the antiquities that we saw. When we left, we just took some more pictures outside the glass pyramid.

Visiting the Louvre pretty much took all day. We didn't even get close to seeing everything, however, we were able to hit all the major pieces that we were aware of. Obviously if you ever go to Paris, the Louvre is a must see. Set aside at least an entire day to see the museum at a leisurely pace. You can see the big three (Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and Winged Victory) in maybe 1.5 hours if you rush, however it's much more pleasurable to take your time as you stroll through this gargantuan museum.

Sadly, the visit to the Louvre concluded my visit to Paris. I'm trying to make plans to go back in the next coming weeks, so hopefully that plan gets finalized.

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