Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sunday Outing - Jardin de Tuileries and Musée du Louvre

The first Sunday of the month is Free day - a lot of museums and monuments have free admission, including the Louvre.  The Louvre is big, really really big and even though we've been there before too, we haven't seen everything we've wanted to see.  Taking advantage of Free Sunday seems like the perfect way to see the rest of it in nice, bite-size chunks.  

We took the metro to Place de la Concorde, so we had to walk the length of the Jardin de Tuileries to get to the Louvre.  Just like Saturday, it was cold and clear and the sun was bright. 

The pace is slower on Sundays and Parisians seem to spend the day relaxing, playing and enjoying the outdoors.  Flower shops are open on Sunday and they do a bustling business.  It is common to see people on the metro and trains with flowers.  I'm guessing they're off to visit family or friends and taking with them a small gift.  There were a lot of people in the park, enjoying the sunshine and a day off.

soaking up the rays

I really noticed the light.  It was hard to miss because it was so bright.  And even though it was early March and just a few short weeks from Spring, the light was definitely wintry.  It was hard and pale and thin.  It looked cold.

As we walked through the park, I was taken by how many people were there just to be there; to sit in the sunshine and chat.  There are several small cafes sprinkled about in the Tuileries and quite a few places with chairs or tables and chairs.  What a lovely place to go for a walk and stop and have a coffee!

Some people were engaged...

Others were not...

The boy scouts were having an outing:

The family that scoots together stays together
chasing after the ball
Got it!

Another sure sign that it isn't spring yet
We snuck into the Louvre through the underground back door - the one off Rue de Rivoli via the Carrousel du Louvre.  There's a shopping mall and food court there - which we intended on only taking a look at but ended up grabbing a snack before our tour of the Richelieu wing and the Near Eastern Antiquities displayed there.  By the time we actually entered the museum it was 4:00 pm, there were no lines and the crowds were manageable. 

We didn't enter via the pyramid but I couldn't resist standing under it anyway

Looking back at the main entrance below the pyramid
It's very difficult to photograph art works in a museum; partly because there are a lot of people looking at the same art so a photograph of a painting or sculpture with people in front of it really loses something in translation.  The second part is that while most museums allow cameras, they don't allow flash (even though I still see flashes popping right and left!).  There is a lot of natural light in the Louvre and there is added light which is fine for viewing art but not so great for photographing art.  The third part is that a lot of art is behind glass.  There are tricks to photographing through glass, and I know them, but the guy standing next to me flashing away in a museum that allows cameras but no flash doesn't know them.  Obviously.  So, my visit to the Louvre was mostly for admiring purposes and not photographic purposes.  Still, I got a few photos I liked so I'll share them.

First up is a stela with Hammurabi at the top with the god of justice and the sun, the rest of the stela is inscribed, in cuneiform, with the Code of Hammurabi which consists of 282 laws such as "an eye for an eye".

Law Codex of Hammurabi - c. 1760 B.C.
Close-up of the Cuneiform Laws

 We toured several rooms that featured relief panels and sculptures from the Palace of Sargon II:

Very large Winged Bulls carved from alabaster
These 30-ton bulls once guarded the entrance to the throne room of Sargon II.  They were guardian spirits warding off demons.

The Hero Overpowering a Lion

Frieze of Lion
We still had about 45 minutes before the Louvre closed, so we visited the nearby sculpture rooms with French, Italian and Northern sculptures from the 16th-19th centuries.

Looking through the atrium - I like the juxtaposition of old and new and all the shapes
It wobbles my mind that this flowing robe was carved from stone
detail of the robe
These small sculptures were near a window - I liked the light on them
I'm not sure what first caught my eye in this room full of sculptures, but I was not happy with me when I took so long to get my shot set up that by the time I clicked the shutter, some people had entered the room and my shot.  In retrospect, I really like it.  There is some kind of poetry in a photograph that freezes a moment in time of sculptures that are moments frozen in time.  I especially like that despite the implied motion of the people in the photograph, they too are frozen in time.  

freeze frame
 It was about this time that the loudspeakers announced that the museum was closing and we had to head to the nearest exit.  We made our way back through the crowds and decided to exit the way we entered, thinking the crowds would thin.


Exiting the Louvre via the Carrousel du Louvre - the Inverted Pyramid is in the back
We went back through the Tuileries to the Concorde Metro station and watched the sun set as we walked.

The Obelisk in Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle and through the Arc you can see part of La Grande Arche at La Défense
the chairs are empty now

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