Say ‘the Louvre’ and most people think ‘Mona Lisa’. And I did too, right up until Saturday. Now I think seagulls! We saw our first mouettes (seagulls) since August 2006. Having always lived within 10 miles or so of coast in both England and Ireland, apart from three years at Oxford, seagulls were a part of life. So it was a very nice surprise to see some in Paris.
Our first glance of them was of their feet.
We’d come off the metro at Louvre and were following the endless tunnel to try and get to the surface when we arrived at the entrance to the museum, which is underground. Close to it is an upside down glass pyramid. The famous right-way-up one is a bit further away. Looking up through the pyramid, you see seagull feet and seagull poop. I bet whoever designed it hadn’t seen that coming!
We didn’t have time to ‘do’ the Louvre so we went up to the outside and marvelled at the fantastic buildings that make up this famous art museum. 2011 was the museum’s best ever year with 27 million visitors, despite economic hard times. That’s 1.5 million up on the previous year. The next most visited museums in France are respectively Versailles, the Pompidou Centre, and the Musée d’Orsay.
The first Louvre was a fortress built in the 13th century by Philip II Augustus. Charles V added onto this in the 15th century. Catherine de Médici and Henry V kept up the tradition of making it bigger, followed by Louis XIII and Richelieu. Louis XIV decided to move to Versailles so its development stopped then. It became a museum around 1789 and in 1989 the famous and controversial glass pyramid was added.
In case you missed the news recently, the Mona Lisa’s hotter twin sister was found in a museum in Madrid. She was hidden underneath another painting which was being restored. Because of being protected like that, the colours of this painting are much more vibrant that in the rather drab Mona Lisa. It’s thought to have been painted by someone in Leonardo da Vinci’s studio.
And on to David’s fountain. I follow a blog called David in France. David is French and now living in Japan, but keeps up an enjoyable and very interesting blog about his home country. Recently he posted this photo and explained that there were several other brightly painted fountains dotted around Paris.
Well, Caits and I didn’t find one of the eye-zapping ones but we came across one of the original dark green Wallace fountains that he mentioned in his blog. I was so pleased to find it, and would never even have noticed it if it hadn’t been for David’s blog. Merci bien, David ! So this one is now to be known officially as David’s fountain.