On the first evening in Paris, we decided to get a train down to the city centre. If nothing else we just wanted to get our bearings for the first day’s exploring. So down we went, and we were shocked to see that we got off the train beside Notre Dame! Inspired by seeing one of the most beautiful buildings in the world purely by accident, we ventured further. To our great surprise, we took only a further five minutes to come accross the Louvre. By this stage, it was fairly late on. We thought that to enter at this late stage would not have done it justice, so we spent some time in the courtyard, planning to come down first thing in the morning.

The courtyard is massive. I took a long panoramic video of this on our camera, and my friends were amazed by the sheer scale when i showed them. Ornately carved statues grace the top of the main building. Each one of these (there must have been hundreds.), was unique, some linking in with others and some very individual. We simply sat on a little bench, and looked up, in awe at the humbling scene before us. We dragged ourselves away, and left for the hotel. We awaited the next day with bated breath.

We got up the next morning, and set off for the Louvre. We were a bit behind schedule (we were in Paris after all!), but we were still there at around tennish. Already there were large queues forming. We approached the entrance, with butterflies as big as elephants in our tummies.

The entrance is in the form of a large pyramid. This we knew from reading the Da Vinci code. It was amazing, especially as the sun was shining, and it was twenty nine degrees. Fountains shot up, creating rainbows in the spray they left in their wake. Although there was a long que, this moved pretty quickly and soon we were descending. So ornate, yet modern, the Pyramid and lobby were actually only added to the original Palais de louvre in the late eighties to early nineties by Francois Mitterand.

The Louvre itself began construction around 1190, and due to its grand scale, was not truely completed for many centuries. It was not opened to the public until after the French Revolution. It was initially used to hold the spoils of Napolean’s victories at war. It continued to develop, right up to the aforementioned additions of Mitterand in 1993. Today, it is one of the most visited museums in the world, holding well over 35,000 pieces, over an area of 60,000 square metres! Located on the banks of the seine, it’s as beautiful from the outside as it is inside.

While there, we saw so many pieces, that we could not remember all of them. Every wall was covered in art, the likes of which we had never come across before in our humble lives. The very roof was so ornately decorated, yet it was not actually counted as a piece of art. There is no point in me going through every item, as you can look this up for yourself on many websites. However, let me take you through some of the highlights for us.

The Mona Lisa.

What can I say? We stood and stared. We must have looked like homer Simpson, with a little bit of drool dribbling down our chins.
The first thing I noticed, when I came out of my trance was that it is tiny. Behind glass, for obvious reasons, it is very hard to get a good picture of it. On average, people get to gaze upon the Mona Lisa for about fifteen seconds, before they are moved on. A little alarm sounds, and you are supposed to move on. However, the rebel in me stuck up two fingers, and I stood on. I didn’t come all the way here to not drink my fill of the atmosphere and culture. Eventually we got a good shot, and moved on. It was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life!

The Venus De Milo

Carved by Alexandros of Antioch the Venus is one of the best known sculptures in the world. My wife was so in awe of her beauty, and she quickly said “well she certainly never had children!”. Isn’t it amazing how women get all defensive, even with a statue? I think she had a point though. This must have been a women of great beauty. Just a bit unfortunate if she needed to scratch her bum!

Well worth seeing her, though. You can buy a life size replica in the shop for about thirteen thousand euro if you want. I, howver, could not afford the seat on the plane she would have needed. We were on a budget here, people!

The winged victory of samothrace

Possibly not as well known as some, the victory is a third century B.C. marble of the greek godess Nike (meaning victory.). Unlike the Venus, the Victory is quite extensively damaged. However it is still regarded to be one of the finest greek sculptures in the world. It was very large, and loomed over us at the top of a staircase, like all greek gods should. You could not help saying things out loud, like “wow!”, or “Bloody hell!”.

I could gladly go on, but it is a place that you really have to see to appreciate. Literally every wall contains a masterpiece, and they are housed within a masterpeice of architecture. If, like us, you love all things grand, then this is the place for you. We spent a solid four hours in here, and I dont think we saw the half of it. However the heat was stifling, and we could not last much longer. We paid about 14 euros each, but for the time we spent, and the things we saw, i think this still falls within our limits. One thing i would say, though is that you will not eat cheaply or well in the Louvre. My suggestion is to not go around a mealtime, and to eat in on of the many little cafe’s or bistros in the area.

You will encounter beauty the likes of which you have never seen before. We left the museum a little wiser, and enriched with the culture that makes Paris such a wonderful place to visit. Happy with our time there, and glad in our hearts that we had been, we set off in search of food……