Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oct 16, Part 9 - Paris: Approach to the Louvre

From St-Germain l'Auxerrois, we crossed the street to this magnificently spacious square at the east end of the Louvre. It was once used as a military parade ground. It takes my breath away to be in a place that feels so big and so empty.

We then went down a side street to eat something before tackling such a huge museum. I hadn't been impressed with the food offerings at the Louvre in the past, so we thought we'd avoid that scene and get a bite elsewhere. It wasn't great, either, but maybe it was better. At least we were able to watch the streets of Paris, which is always fun. I believe this is the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Rue Perrault.

Leaving our lunch spot, we again headed toward the Louvre once again. Here is the Temple de l'Oratoire du Louvre, on the posh Rue de Rivoli. The location and the building have an interesting and varied history, as do so many places in Paris. In the 1600s, this was the location of the home of Gabrielle d'Estrees, one of the famous "favorites" of Henri IV. The Baroque building you see here was built by Le Mercier between 1621 and 1630. It was a church used by the Oratorian Congregation, a secular priesthood whose interests were teaching and preaching. They came to rival the Jesuits. The preaching done here was so superior that the royal family and court came to use this church as their chapel under Louis XIII, XIV, and XV. The funerals of Louis XIII and his queen, Anne of Austria, were held here. During the Revolution, when all churches were de-consecrated, the Oratoire was used as an arms depot. Napoleon ceded the building to the Protestants in 1811, and the seminary was re-established in 1852.

I've taken this photo through the fence, since this garden is enclosed and not open to the pubilc. We're headed for the large archway in the center of the photo, which will take us into the Cour Caree, the mammoth courtyard on the east end of the Louvre.

Just before the archway, we enountered something completely unexpected! I still don't know what to make of this. I might have expected sculpture of the Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical periods, but instead here is a very modern-looking sculputre of a car. And, it's broken!

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