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Louvre Museum

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 Louvre Museum
The Louvre Palace is a former royal palace located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris on the right bank of the Seine, between the Tuileries Gardens and the Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois church. Extending over a built area of ​​over 135,000 m2, the Louvre Palace is the largest palace in Europe, and the second largest building on the continent after the Aalsmeer Flower Market. Today it houses the Louvre museum.

The construction of the Louvre is inseparable from the history of Paris. It spans over 800 years, although the general plan of the palace was not imagined until the Renaissance. Charles V established his residence there, giving the palace a status that it retained until the reign of Louis XIV.

With 10.2 million visitors in 2018 - a quarter of them French - it is the most visited museum in the world and the most visited cultural site in France in front of the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral being in head of monuments with free access with 13.6 million visitors estimated.

The Louvre Palais Royal

As you walk through the halls of one of the largest museums in the world today, you often forget that the Louvre, after having been a fortress, has become, for several centuries, a place of residence for the monarch and his family. Sometimes, the sovereigns only lived there for a short time, preferring the sweets of the Loire Valley or the splendors of Versailles. Furniture and decorative objects have long since disappeared, but walls and ceilings bear witness to those times which are now over. Walk through the halls, bedrooms, stairs or stables of the palace: from the few vestiges of the medieval period, go to the splendid interiors of the time of the Sun King ... and dream of the splendor of castle life.

01- Salle Saint-Louis

Medieval Louvre - Room 137

When Philippe Auguste decided to build the Louvre around 1190, the building was not intended as a place of residence for the king, it was intended to house a garrison. Little is known about the building, which explains why the function of this room cannot be specified. Here you are plunged into the semi-darkness of the only medieval interior still preserved in the Louvre. Three eras are intertwined here: the walls date from Philippe Auguste (1180-1223); the vaults, now destroyed, and their supports of Saint Louis (1226-1270) - hence the name given to this room; as for the powerful arcades, which occupy a third of the surface, they date back to the 16th century. Observe the way they “dress” one of these columns that once supported the vault. The decor of the room is sober but neat. Notice the elegant foliage of the column capitals or the grimacing heads that adorn the dropouts of the vaults on the walls. Originally a low room and partly carved into the ground, this now blind room was once lit by windows pierced at the top of the walls.

Directions to the next work: Retrace your steps after the model and, on the landing, take the stairs that go up immediately to your left. The first door which opens on your right leads into the room of the Caryatides.

02- Room of the Caryatids

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities - Room 348

From 1547, the medieval Louvre disappeared, replaced little by little by a modern palace. The Caryatides room is the heart of it. In June 1610, a wax effigy of Henri IV was exhibited there. Thus the Parisians were able to meditate before the "remains" of the good king assassinated by Ravaillac. On October 24, 1658, in this same play, Molière performed for the first time in front of Louis XIV. Notice the dimensions and the decor of the place. For the village hall of his palace, Henri II wanted a solemn and innovative setting. He entrusted the realization to the architect Pierre Lescot and the sculptor Jean Goujon. Look at the musicians' tribune above the entrance to the hall: it is supported by four female figures, the caryatids, these ancient female columns that we find used here for the first time in France. Originally, a partly gilded wooden ceiling brought color and warmth to the whole. If sumptuous parties took place here, the room was not for all that a place intended only for pleasure. Head to the area separated from the rest of the hall by columns and dominated by an imposing fireplace: this was the "court" where the king administered justice.

Directions to the next work: Exit the room through the same door as on the way out and go up the grand staircase to your right. Stop at the first landing. Benches allow you to rest and watch the stairs.

03- Henri II staircase

The Henri-II staircase was the grand staircase of the Renaissance palace. A crowd of courtiers borrowed it every day to go up to the king. These walls have heard many voices! friends or enemies, commenting on the life of the sovereign or plotting dark plots ... The staircase whose steps you are now climbing is, for the time, very modern. Admire the monumentality of the volumes of this double flight: it is straight and no longer circular as in the Middle Ages. This fashion comes to us from Italy. Appreciate the quality of the decor, where the king's monogram (H) is next to the symbols of Diana, goddess of the hunt (deer heads and other animals), highlighting one of the king's favorite distractions. If the medieval staircases are purely functional spaces, the new staircase of the Louvre has become a veritable place of pageantry that unites the village hall on the ground floor (stage 2) with the sovereign's apartments, one floor higher (stage 7).

Directions to the next work: Go up the second flight of the stairs and, when you reach the first floor, turn immediately to the right. Stop in the second room you cross (room 662-1-Sully).

04- Henri II Room

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities - Room 662

When the king resided in the Louvre, the antechamber served to keep petitioners patient, but parties were also given there. Every morning, many courtiers waited here for the end of the king's rising ceremony. With them musicians, tailors, hosier, sock makers and doctors stood ready to meet the needs of His Majesty. Here you are in the first room of the king's apartment, the anteroom. The current appearance of this room dates back to Louis XIV, who in 1660 decided to combine two rooms from the Renaissance period - the wardrobe and the anteroom - into a single room of larger dimensions. The central part of the ceiling woodwork dates from the 16th century. Observe its rich decoration of carved and gilded wood, adorned with the figure of Henry II; the carpenter Francisque Scibec de Carpi executed it in collaboration with the sculptor Etienne Carmoy. Look for the double L which appears in several places: it will help you identify the additions of Louis XIV. Do the paintings surprise you? They were made in 1953 by the painter Georges Braque to replace the previous decor, damaged by time.

Directions to the next work: In the next room, turn immediately left. Continue straight ahead: you cross the rooms presenting the terracotta from Greek Antiquities, then those which are devoted to the collections of Egyptian Antiquities. When you reach the landing of the stairs, turn left, cross two rooms and enter the king's parade chamber (room 638 -1-Sully).

05- King's parade chamber

Egyptian Antiquities - Room 638

The room is actually only used for the rising ceremony: the king sleeps in another room next door (step 6). This room often hosts the "business council" which brings together the relatives of the sovereign. In the 16th century, Charles IX and Henri III often listened in this room to the reproaches of their mother, Catherine de Medici, and the advice of the Duke of Guise. In the 19th century, the woodwork from the king's bedroom, on the first floor of the king's pavilion (stage 7), was brought up here.

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France - Ile-de-France - Paris - Paris