The original Louvre was a fortress, built starting in 1190 at the behest of King Philippe Auguste (1165-1223).
The fortress was at one end of Philippe Auguste's wall, a system of city fortifications that he ordered built because he didn't want the city to be left undefended while he went off to fight in the Crusades.
Remains of the medieval Louvre fortress and moat have been excavated and preserved, and can be seen today on the underground level of the Sully Wing of the Louvre, on the way to the department of Egyptian antiquities.
Next review from January 2012: Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre
Many amateurs of art estimate that wing Richelieu is the best part of Le Louvre.
I do agree. It starts on the Ground Floor with the French Sculptures in Cour Puget (photo 2) and Cour Marly, the amazing sculptures of Mesopotamia in Cour Khorsabad.
On the First Floor are the Decorative Arts from the Middle Ages, Renaissance (ref. my tip on the tapestries The hunts of Maximilan ) 17th c. furniture with Charles Boulle (photo 3), 18th and 19th c.
The visit of the Napoleon III apartments (photo 1) and the Restoration and July Monarchy is a must.
On the Second Floor is on display a very good collection of Dutch paintings, with two Vermeer, Flemish (Van Eyck - photo 4) and German painters mainly from the 15th to the 17th c. I will come back on this collection of paintings.
"The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre)" is a large glass and metal pyramid surrounded by three smaller pyramids in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) in Paris.
The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989 and has become a landmark of the city of Paris.
In 1983 French President Francois Mitterrand proposed as one of the Grands Projets of Francois Mitterrand the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon.
The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), was completed in 1993. As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.
Just want to remind u that in several hours u can make a quick tour just to see around, but in order to see the most and all, u gonna need a whole day or two ... The authorities allow u to shoot photos inside, but not the flash, in order not to harm the art collection, for ur info ... :)
Recently started a temporary exhibition from March 28 to June 24, 2013 in the Hall Napoléon, under the Pyramid:
"De l’Allemagne, 1800-1939 - German Thought and Painting, from Friedrich to Beckmann."
According to Le Louvre:
"This exhibition, comprising over two hundred works, offers a reflection on the main themes that structured German thinking from 1800 to 1939. It places artworks and their artists—including Caspar David Friedrich, Paul Klee, Philipp Otto Runge and Otto Dix—in the intellectual context of their time, and confronts them with the writings of great thinkers, chief among whom is Goethe."
This exhibition created a lot of polemics between German media and Le Louvre.
There were strong critics in Die Zeit of 4/04 accusing Le Louvre to accredit "the thesis of an isolated path of German art which would have led directly to National Socialism."
Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung followed with two publications on 7/04 and 9/04/2013.
If you read French or German you can follow this polemic in the major newspapers.
If you came only for Mona Lisa, don't mind, La Joconde is not involved in that Franco-German fight.
P.S. About German painters I would like to make my own advertising about my recent comment "Alte Nationalgalerie-To discover"in Berlin.
With more than 50.000 objects the Egyptian collection of the Louvre is the second in the world after Cairo. This is not surprising as the collection started with Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt between 1798 and 1801.
It was the talented French linguist Jean-François Champollion who solved the enigma of Pharaonic writing in 1822 and was appointed curator of a new department in the Louvre that was inaugurated in 1827 under King Charles X.
Another famous name was the archaeologist Mariette who became the first director of Egyptian Antiquities.
In 1997, during the Grand Louvre renovation project, this huge collection was distributed on two different floors of Wing Sully. As the heaviest objects had to remain on the ground floor it was impossible to arrange the works by period.
This ground floor with 19 rooms, including the temple room (12) and the sarcophagi room (14), features a thematic installation centred on the major aspects of Egyptian civilization i.e. the daily life in Ancient Egypt.
The 1st floor of wing Sully (rooms 20 to 30) presents a chronological approach, highlighting the different historical periods and the development of Egyptian art from 4000 BC to 400 AD.
Numbers of visitors of Le Louvre are coming here with the sole aim to visit the Egyptian department; for the others it would be a real pity not to spend at least one hour here.
The most famous artefact which always impresses the visitors is "The Seated Scribe" (c. 2620-2500 BC) in room 22 on 1st floor wing Sully. The inlaid eyes are the most striking aspect of this sculpture; furthermore nothing is known about the person portrayed!
the most beautiful museum in the world, I have been to a few of the better known, but the Louvre history, layout,and content is unmatched by any. You must see it.
A lot has been written on it, so I will say that there is a free day on the last Sunday of the month, most crowded. That if EU citizen under 26 you get a discount; and that there are several entry points the best being the carrousel du Louvre/
individual visitors can go by the Pyramide, porte des lions( except Fridays and nocturnal events in the evenings) and the carrousel du Louvre,the best. If you already have a ticket you can come thru the pyramide on a reserve line for quicker entry. Those with discount cards or friends of the museum or the museum pass can come by the entry on the passage Richelieu.
You reach the museum from metro lines 1 and 7, station Palais-Royal/musée du Louvre
By bus with No 21,24,27,39,48,68,69,72,81,95 as well as the touristic Paris l'Open Tour , stop facing the pyramide
bicycle Velib stations near the museum are :
n°1015 : 2 place A. Malraux
n°1023 : 165 rue Saint-Honoré
n°1014 : 5 rue de l’Echelle
n°1013 : 186 rue Saint-Honoré
Batobus, at escale Louvre in quai François Mitterand
by car, there is an underground parking reachable by avenue du général Lemonier,every day from 7h00 -23h00.
En Batobus : Escale Louvre, quai François Mitterrand
From Aéroport d'Orly : RER C direction Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel, get off at Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, walk to Saint Michel, take bus no. 27 direction Saint Lazare, get off at Musée du Louvre, in front of the Pyramide.
From l'Aéroport Charles de Gaulle : RER B direction Massy-Palaiseau, change at Chatelet les Halles, take line 14 direction Saint-Lazare, stop at Pyramides ,walk to the musée du Louvre or take metro line 1 and get off at Palais-Royal / Musée du Louvre.
You can buy your ticket before arrival see instructions here
For mobility impaired persons contact for further info and help email
The webpage has plenty of information in English plus those visitors who have tips about it here at VT.
And new Louvre will pop up soon !!! read all about on the links to follow
only the Louvre is opening branches in Lens north of France (opening Dec 2012!) and Abu Dhabi (2014) lol!
Enjoy it,it really deserves a whole day at least. UPDATE
The museum had record visits in 2012 at 10 millions visitors (almost twice as any other museum in the world), orders for limiting the time inside is already been mentioned in the French press,and other sites open first in Lens in the north and then in Abu Dhabi. The renovation around the pyramide de pei has been postponned costing about 10M€ so long lines will continue for a while.
The new director Jean-Luc Martínez, effective this month. A native Parisien, and up to today the head of the Department of Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans antiquities.
It's one of the largest and most revered in the world.
It sprawls across the site of a former medieval fortress whose ancient foundations still exist.
It has over 35,000 fascinating sculptures, paintings, prints and decorative objects spanning multiple millennia.
You would put 12 miles on your sensible walking shoes trying to see all of it.
Between jet lag and a serious fit of the tizzies over seeing the Mother of Paris Art Museums, we were up at 3:30 our first morning and wandering deserted streets looking for coffee. We finally found a McCafé over on Rue de Rivoli that opened early and so fortified with latte and pastry, we were ready to conquer the vast and hallowed halls of Palais du Louvre.
Much has been written about best ways to get yourself inside without hours of standing about so I'll just offer up what worked for us. The Carrousel de Louvre shopping center entrance on Rue de Rivoli was a winner as it allowed us to wait inside on a drizzly day, and the short queue, 1/2 hour before opening, was split into ticket and pass-holder lines. Take the escalator down from the mall entrance and walk all the way down the hall to the inverted glass pyramid; the Louvre entrance will be on the left. Porte de Lions and Passage Richelieu entrances are also very good for skipping the long lines at the Pyramid entrance outside. At all entrances you will have to undergo a security inspection.
The website is your best source of current information, and it is a wealth of it: interactive floor plans; virtual tours; visitor amenities; rules and regulations; etc. Do spend some time browsing the contents before your visit as it'll help you hit the ground running!
In a nutshell:
• Open every day from 9:00 - 6:00 except Tuesdays and some holidays. See website for current ticket prices, EEA free admission, etc. Children under age 18 are free.
• Open until 9:45 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. This is a great way to spend an evening when other museums are closed! I will mention that some of the windowed galleries are very dimly lit so their paintings will be difficult to see after dark.
• Your ticket/museum pass allows you to leave/re-enter the museum during the day. A Paris Museum Pass allows you as many visits as the duration days of your pass.
• Photography and video recording are allowed but no flash
• Multimedia guides are available for rent in 6 different languages, and multiple profiles (adult, child, hearing-impared, etc.)
• There are free maps of all three wings at the visitor's entrance hall. If there is a very popular piece you want to see - such as the Mona Lisa - I would suggest knowing the location before you go and making a beeline to it when the doors open. The floor plans on the website will help you locate the most visited pieces or genres of art: click "floor plans" under "Plan your visit."
• The background and architecture of this former palace is as impressive as the collections so a read of its history is highly recommended: http://www.louvre.fr/en/history-louvre
Well its my second entry on the Louvre, but really we will need a book, many entries and still wont tell all, its huge, historical awesome amazing and grand, a museum to the world. i can give some photos and some description you need to come and spend several days on it.
Some try to see it in my day but only skip the surface, to see it all like , you need to come several times and on different exhibitions, and several days, then you still wont see it all ::)
The porte des lions is for those friends of the museum entrance,and some days individual ticket holders can come in,you too can be a friend of the museum, by helping maintain this beauty, here http://www.amisdulouvre.fr/
the add on musée des arts décoratifs is house after while at the pavillon marsans of the louvre fortress, once this pavillon and the one at the other extreme by the Seine, the Flore link up the Palais des Tuileries (see my main Paris page).
Quite logically the French School has the largest number of works at Le Louvre. The museum's collection of French paintings is very complete including pictures by Fouquet, Poussin, Le Brun, Watteau, Boucher, Chardin, David, Ingres, Géricault and Delacroix
The large format paintings from David, Delacroix and Géricault (ref my tip on "le Radeau de la Méduse") are shown in wing Denon on the First Floor rooms 75, 76 and 77 (close to room 6 with "La Joconde").
The normal and small formats are on display at wing Sully on the 2nd Floor.
It is a long circuit (± 600 m) which starts in wing Richelieu with the 14th - 16th c. French paintings. I do recommend here room 15 with several paintings of Claude Gelée - Le Lorrain . The collection 17th, 18th and first half 19th c. continues in the buildings around the large Cour Carrée so that one-day visitors will have a problem passing here.
I shall therefore limit my survey to some highlights of this collection. Like I said in my introduction on Le Louvre, a one day visit is for well trained joggers who start at opening and finish at closure time!
Best known are from Jean-Antoine Watteau "Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles"(1719) and from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres "The Turkish Bath" (1862). I also like from Eugène Delacroix "Jeune orpheline au cimetière" (1824). Well known is also "Gabrielle d'Estrées and One of Her Sisters" (1594) from the School of Fontainebleau.
As I have seen Le Louvre in the early sixties (*) well before the pyramid which dates from 1989 but also well before the huge renovation works outside and inside undergone by the Palais du Louvre I have been wondering if I like the Pyramid or not.
For me the Pyramid is only a small part of the titanesque project called Grand Louvre which officially started in 1983 and aimed at transforming all the Palais du Louvre and the Tuileries in a grandiose museum increasing its surface from 57000 to 161000 m2. I'll just remember that till 1989 the Richelieu wing was occupied by the Ministry of Finances!
My favorite is this huge renovation work of the Palais du Louvre of which the Pyramid from Ming Pei was the only controversial part. For me it is a detail compared to what is on display inside the museum.
Presently I'm used to it standing in the main courtyard (photo 1) called Cour Napoléon. If I want to see what it looked before I go and look at the Cour Carrée (photo 2) in the back.
The problem with the Pyramid, now twenty years old, is that it can not handle the enormous number of visitors. It was conceived for 4 millions visitors/year and there were 8,9 million in 2011.
That’s why I recommend the other entries in my tip " Avoiding The Queues" or
" A shortcut to La Joconde - Mona Lisa"
There is now a projet aiming, after modifications, to increase the capacity at 10 million visitors.
(*) Can you imagine that on my first visit in 1961 we were only 4 visitors in front of "La Joconde"!
NB. I have problem with Le Louvre. There is so much to see in the eight departments, all of utmost importance for art and history, that the dilemma is the following: should I write one sole tip about Le Louvre; if yes I could review it all by "Wow, this is great!" and load up photos.
I apologize but I'm unable to follow that trend some would like to impose on VT.
But nobody is obliged to read my tips.
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