French Lessons: Le Palais du Louvre

Le Palais du Louvre of Paris is arguably one of the most famous museums in the world. At over 652,000 square feet in museum space alone (roughly equal to 11 football fields), it holds a plethora of history, art, sculpture, and surprisingly haunting tales.  The museum holds so many pieces of art that if you spent one minute in front of each the museum owned, it would take you 3 months to view everything. And, should you get hungry while viewing all of the magnificence, there is a McDonald's (MacDo) located on the lower floor. 
Visit to the Louvre Feb 2011 photo credit: Mine
For many when they think of the Louvre Museum they think of the Mona Lisa - and quite rightly so. Miss Lisa had been with the Louvre long before it was a museum: she arrived in the mid 1500's during Francis the 1st's reign. What many don't associate with the Louvre however is bloodbaths, terrified new brides running for their lives, riots, and controlling mothers with iron will. Cathrine de Medici and her children experienced just this with the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, which began in the very halls of what is now the most visited museum in the world.
Photo credit: Mine

Construction of the Louvre began in the Middle Ages, and by 1190 it served as a fortress (complete with a moat!) to protect Paris from Anglo-Norman invaders. Paris which was the largest city in Europe, quickly found itself surrounding it's very own fortress. By the 14th century Charles V had the fortress remolded into a royal palace: Elaborate reliefs, wall carvings, elegant windows and spiral staircases were all in order. The old fortress had been refashioned into the envy of Europe - a tradition that a young Louis would carry with him all the way to Versailles. As a matter a fact - the construction that started under Charles V lasted all the way up to the 1600's - and construction began once again in 1625. The noise and never ending construction eventually got to Catherine de Medici in 1564,  who began another construction project for another palace for her and her children - the Tuileries - where she hoped she could escape the constant noise of the Louvre. 

Photo credit: Mine

When Louis XIV decided abandon Paris and move the French government to Versailles, construction on the Louvre came to a halt - and remained untouched for nearly a century. It eventually became a residence for artists, and later an art school. In 1792, with the capture and imprisonment of Louis XVI, the Louvre was seized as property of the state and of the people. In 1793 it opened it's doors as a museum. When Napoleon came into power, French armies began using the "museum of the people"  as a display space for their loot from conquered kingdoms. As their collection grew, so did the museum's fame. Sure - when Louis XVII came into power much of loot was returned - but the museum later received many donations.


Today the Museé du Louvre receives an average of 9 million visitors a year - that is nearly 8% of the worlds population. What about you dear readers? Have you visited the Louvre? Do you hope to sometime soon? (Look for some Orbitz coupons and go!)


4 comments

vintage process said...

Great pictures!! I love it!!

Barry said...

I visited the Louvre when I was twenty-two, it's one of the most unforgettable historical landmarks I've been to in Europe.

The Mona Lisa was in a 'vault' behind glass (no photos allowed since you know what flashes can do to artwork). It was unfortunate she wasn't more readily accessible but it was a privilege just to see a classic piece such as this. The glass pyramids weren't completed until two years after my visit. When did McDonald's go in? I believe it was in '09 or '10. Completely sacrilige but that's an entirely different topic!

Thanks for this post, it brings back memories. The photos are magnificent!

CC said...

nice post! I visited the louvre in 2008 and I loved it! Only wished my feet didn't hurt so bad, because I would have stayed for hours and hours... :) *

Meri said...

Wow I can't stop looking at these photos! I've never been to the Louvre but it is stunning even just the building and pyramid!

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