Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oct 16, Part 11 - Paris: The Louvre pyramid on a dark, dark day

The courtyard and entry to the Louvre is always magnificent, huge-feeling beyond human scale, and utterly unforgettable, no matter what. We had, however, managed to get there in the rain, and the day was getting progressively darker. In a way, it was OK. I like the way the clouds came out in some of these photos. And also, if you have a sunny day in Paris during a rainy week, do you really want to be indoors? Since we had walked to the Louvre, we were already a bit tired when we got there, which is not the way you want to start your visit to one of the world's most amazing museums with eleven miles of corridors. I think at this point the discussion about whether the pyramid was a good idea or a bad one has been done to death, but I'm not sure it's ever been solved to any general consensus. My two cents are that while the pyramid is beautiful in its own right, and does streamline the entrance to the museum (below ground only), it's a complete bummer that it blocks the intended vista from the Palace to the Arc de Triomphe. Once you lose something like that, you're probably never going to get it back. Housmann destroyed so much of Medieval Paris to create the Baroque lines and vistas that the city has become rightly cherished for, but in so doing he created a greater work of art. I can't say as much for the pyramid. As intriguing as it is, hopefully someday they will have the sense to remove it.

Here's the northern arm of the old palace, now containing a museum of decorative arts, which I've never been in. Once you've seen the Louvre, who has the time or energy? It would require a second trip, I think. There are also office buildings in this wing. At one time, it was all one huge palace, and there was an additional wing closing off what is now the west side - to open up the vista to the Arc de Triomphe, which is now obliterated by the pyramid.

No view, nice umbrella. There is a small arch behind it that we can barely see, which used to line up with the greater Arch de Triomphe.

I do like the colors of the water and the interesting gray-on-gray of the fountain against the overcast sky.

You still have one line going in, although it goes into the pyramid rather than into the palace via the arched door on the right (the Pavilion Denon).

Here's Lee descending the escalator beneath the pyramid, which contains the security checkpoint.

Your tour of the Louvre starts under ground. I like this view of the stairs going back up and out.

Grand Central Louvre.

After we stowed our packs, we had a choice of three ways to enter the Louvre itself. This is one value of the new entrance through the pyramid - it becomes a routing carousel. Rather than having everyone entering the same wing and clogging it up, there is a choice. I think it should have been accomplished, though, without destroying the amazing vista above.

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