Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Louve

We hopped on the train and rode into town from the Papes house where we had stayed that first night. The Louve was our first stop on our second day in Paris. It was way more impressive than we had anticipated. (Not to mention way more crowded) We got there fairly early and we still began our line-waiting clear out into the mall. We just happened to be there for the first Sunday of the month when the museums are free. Luckily that saved us a few Euros but I'm sure there were a few more people than usual--although we were told that it is always a madhouse anyway.

This is a view from inside the museum---Check out the line now. It weaves all the way around the courtyard then down into and through the entire mall. CRAZY!

The kids informed us that we were not allowed to come home until we had taken a picture of the pyramid at the Louve, ridden up the Eiffel tower and checked out the Arc de Triomphe.

Check 1!

Here is the Masterpiece depicting the crowning of Napolean and Josephine. I include this here with me included to give you some idea as to the IMMENSE scope of this painting. There is a smaller one at Versaille that we thought was monstrously huge but this one is just massive!

The next two are just two of my favorites. I couldn't resist including them just so that I can remember them more often.

What young girl doesn't love the drama of the Lady of Shallot

There you have it! The infamous Mona Lisa!
She looks so peaceful up there on that wall all by herself doesn't she?

There is just no way that you can take a good picture of the Mona Lisa now that they have it covered with the thick sheet of glass...

...But these people sure tried!

It was an absolute madhouse!
Even now, I start laughing to myself remembering all of those people shoving and pushing up to get a glimpse of Her. Don't get me wrong, it's a great painting, but really a little underwhelming in our opinion.

This on the other hand was thoroughly impressive. The detail work on this sculpture was so delicate and ornate that it quite took my breath away. It was simply beautiful. If you can zoom in on the lace collar and all of the detail work on the dress you can see what I mean. It boggles the mind that someone can create that out of a blank stone.

The crown jewels of France: On the left you have the crown of the Emperor Napolean and on the right I think you have the crown of Louis XIV or XV. I can't remember whose exact sword but it might be the coronation sword of most of the later French Kings.

Not quite sure what this piece is trying to tell us... but I'm pretty sure it was one of Jeff's faves--or at least that's what he tells me. lol

Seriously! What is with this guy? (The Roman, not Jeff)

There was so much to the Louve that we didn't even get to see the whole thing. You could literally spend a week just visiting the Louve and you'd still probably miss stuff. All in all, we enjoyed the time we did spend there. We had fun seeing Venus De Milo as well as Winged Victory. We checked out the ancient fortress that the Louve is built upon--including the dungeon down below. We oogled the Michaelangelos which are always impressive and had plenty of time to meander and take in all of the architecture of the building itself. After all, it was the royal palace before they moved to Versaille.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


There is absolutely no way to narrow down Paris into just one post so I'll have to put Versaille in a post of its own. After all, in and of itself, it really is in a realm of it's own--even when compared to other royal palaces. It is so hard to describe the ornateness and over-the-top craftsmanship for that time period. Standing in the middle of the Hall of Mirrors you can truly envision hearing Marie Antoinette say something as outlandish as, "then let them eat cake." I think it would have been hard for anyone who had grown up immersed in such luxury to have had any real sense of reality--any real understanding for what the "real" people's lives were like.Imagine having your own private chapel. ---Let alone having THIS as your own private chapel. It is interesting to note however that this chapel is really not so much dedicated to God or even Christ as it was to the King. Louis XIV was called the Sun King and hence the massive sun motif in the alterpiece and throughout the chapel. Only the royal family was allowed upstairs-so that he could look down on all the people below him of lesser station. Those kings certainly knew how to do "ego". Speaking of the combination of ego and luxury--you have here The Hall of Mirrors. It really has to be one of the all time most impressive rooms. It spans the whole width of the main palace. There are 17 (I think) massive arched mirrors on the left side which reflect the views from the matching arched windows on the right. The entire ceiling is muraled as most of the rooms in the palace are. Ornate gold gilded moldings and stunning chandeliers complete the opulence. Imagine it without the hordes of tourists--possibly set with a huge dining table and elegant lords and ladies strolling about. Definitely impressive. This quaint little bust was so completely french I just had to include it. Now seriously, is there any reason why this little equipment malfunction should have taken place?----and yet, any reason the french could find to display a little cleavage--or a lot of cleavage--or what the heck, complete freedom from restraint, was siezed upon and utilized. Needless to say, we saw ALOT of boobs!
...and Johnsons! Nice placement of the fig leaf! Actually, most of the time they didn't even bother with the leaf!
Check out the massive fireplace. Almost every room (of which there were hundreds) had a fireplace and many of them were this size. Those Oregon tree huggers are going berzerc just thinking about it.

Ever wondered what kind of bedroom an egomaniac would choose to sleep in? Wonder no more. Here is the kings bedroom. Or rather part of the bedroom since I couldn't fit it all in a single picture. (Sorry about the blurriness--not sure what happened there. I still had to include it though.) Just out of frame in the picture is a paneled, almost hidden, door where he would sneak out to meet his mistresses or sneak his mistresses in-whichever was the case for that night. I think the queens room had one too so that he could visit her when he got tired of everyone else. You saw the kings room, now check out the queens. This was extensively remodeled by Marie Antoinette to reflect her own taste---right before she met Madame Guillotine. Evidently she had her babies here in this very room being closely watched by as many people as they could squeeze in here--so as to make sure that no tricksies were played in naming the royal heir to the throne. Sometimes I'm so glad that I'm so normal.

The gardens were every bit as impressive as the house. They literally went on for miles. They were formal gardens with hundreds of statues, ornamentals and fountains, groomed shrubbery and beautiful flowers as well as sprawling grassy areas, reflecting pools, mini lakes and groomed tree-lined walkways. As you wandered along the paths among the trees you would come to hidden away areas that would open up into a fountain/lounging area or some other little nook and cranny place within the overall gardens. Very fun.
This is the view looking toward the palace across the private lake.
One more aspect of the palace as seen from the gardens. This is the view looking towards what would be the Hall of Mirrors.

As you can see, with just this sampling of pictures, (which is really not even a drop in the bucket) it was an amazing, experience. It's hard to imagine that people really do live like that. I guess, when it is all said and done however, I can honestly say, I wouldn't trade my relatively unimportant, inconsequential, and insignificant life for theirs. My privacy and my trust in my husband and the values learned from being "real" are more valuable to me than any of that worldly glitz and glamour. I'll take my little home with my beautiful views, my four great kids and my best friend for a husband any day of the week and twice on Sunday.