Monday, March 03, 2014

Paris: The Louvre Day

Last day in Paris! We took all the kids to the Louvre.  Grandma and Grandpa went with us for a little bit, but we had gotten strollers for the girls (free) which severely limited our mobility so they took off after awhile.

I really had no idea what the Louvre was other than that it was a giant art museum and I wasn't super keen to go.  Honestly though, I do think there is something for everyone.  I don't care that much about art, but I am more interested in history.

A miniature of the sphinx down in the depths of the castle.  NO flash photos allowed... which I didn't realize until after I took the picture. Boo.

So in case you've never been... the Louvre is actually in an old palace.  A VERY old and VERY large palace.  Which was added onto many many times over the years, thus nothing is on the same level, there are stairs everywhere, and it is super confusing! ;)  Also the reason why we had such a hard time with the strollers.  We finally figured out that to get anywhere you have to go all the way down to the bottom level (pictured above), cross the open space, and find the elevator for the area you want to go to.  Then, if you want to go to another area, even if it looks like it should be right next door and on the same level... nope, probably stairs or something else, you've got to go all the way back down again! 

The glass pyramid entrance is pretty cool and a good entrance.  It's the center of the museum, but the rest of it is half underground and half in the old palace.  It's a huge U shape and the open side goes under the courtyard with some inverted pyramids for light.  That's mostly just the bookstore and giftshops, not things to see.

Down in the depths we saw the sphinx, walked through an excavated moat and around a tower inside and out.  This area was new in the last 10 years since my in-laws didn't recognize it.  We saw some really old Egyptian tablets, and a very new modern display of Lady Gaga dressed like a Greecian projected on a screen.  I think it was a video and she'd just been standing still?  It was very odd.

The Louvre is the home of the Mona Lisa and after winding our way to that section of the palace we came out to find some lovely galleries.  I was impressed by the light!  (which I'm guessing was not natural since this is the "first" floor and there was one more above it)  But it was a one way room so we had to figure out how to get in!  This was the entrance side gallery.

The requisite picture of the Mona Lisa.  Can you tell I was impressed...

This is what it looked like trying to see the Mona Lisa.  It was a Saturday during Christmas and the museum was pretty full, but this room was ridiculous.  They had a semi-circle of roped off area around her.  You basically just shove your way to the front of the crowd until you get to the rope.  You can stand there however long you want (being shoved from behind) until you're done and then you motion to one of the attendants and they come open your section of rope and you walk out the front and around to the side.  So it's a one way crowd.  I took the boys to see while Brian stayed back with the girls in the strollers.  They weren't very impressed either!

And actually I wish I'd turned around and taken a photo because on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa was the largest framed painting I have ever seen.  Take that wall that she's mounted on, turn it sideways and that's how big it was.

This was the exit hall on the other side of the Mona Lisa room.  It was crazy to imagine that this was a palace and people lived here... it was just so huge.

Here's the courtyard outside... the pyramid is to my back and I'm looking at the open end of the U.  The Mona Lisa was to my left about halfway back on the "first" floor.  What we would call the second floor since they call ground level what we call first floor.  Confusing, yes.  There are three floors at ground level or above and two below ground.  All of them have very high ceilings so the building is very tall as well as simply being ginormous.

At the far end of the right arm of the castle were some rooms that weren't galleries so much but set up as they would have been lived in.  I really would have loved to have seen those, but being so complicated to get there and pushing nap time... we had to go.

On our way home we stopped by the tiniest toy store you've ever seen to pick up a belated Christmas present for William.  Yes, we kind of sucked in the planning ahead department about that.

Always good to have older cousins around to show you what's up with opening presents!

Here, let me "help" you!

To go along with the pretty cool dragons the boys got from the same shop... we got William a cow.  I believe he was very into cows at the time, this that choice.

And then it was a mad rush of packing with especially Allison and Joel's stuff spread out ALL over the second floor of the place we were staying!  They had to sort and send stuff home with us and make sure everything we brought (a LOT) would fit into their bags to go home!

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