Sunday morning saw us shaking off a late start and making our way to the Louvre. Coming out of the dark tunnels of the metro and into the sunlight, the Louvre hits your right from the outside. Its size matches its fame – huge. Almost as if we were too frightened to enter and discover that the entire build-up was going to be a let down, we hung around outside the Louvre, not really knowing why we weren’t entering.
So we decided to eat a French breakfast. We made our way to one of the little French roadside cafes which charged us exorbitant rates for the breakfast. But no complaints, the croissant was excellent.
With breakfast done, we had no reasons left to delay the entry. We walked in through the arches and came up on the pyramids. Read about it, see pictures and movies about it, but in flesh and blood, or should that be in glass and steel, it still takes your breath away. Not by its size, its actually smaller that I imagined it, but by its fragility. The main pyramid stands surrounded by tall stone structures of the main building, structures that look like they plan to stay forever, and here bang in the middle of that sturdiness is this pyramid comprising of glass panes.
You walk step into the pyramid, and you are in the reception of the world’s greatest museum.
Surprisingly, they have a layout leaflet in English.
Pick up the leaflet, pick up your ticket, forget the leaflet and follow the lady. There is no doubts as to who the presiding deity of this temple of art is, all around you, you will see directions leading you to the Mona Lisa.
Like typical tourists, as if we were anything other than that, we rushed through the halls, not seeing anything on the way. We were consumed by a single desire – see the Mona Lisa.
Then she was there. We were standing in front of the most famous painting in the world. She is smaller that I imagined. She is a little more faded than I imagined. But she is just as beautiful as I imagined.
Once we had paid the obligatory we turned around and began a leisurely walk through works of art that at times took all the air from your lungs, at times made your jaw drop in wonder, at times made your heart go a flutter, and at times was plain boring. Yes, they are all there, and somehow I get the feeling that the reactions to the various works of art on display are not the same from person to person.
The Italians definitely draw the nudes better. The French score with furniture. The Greeks worked well with marble. The Dutch do better landscapes. But time and again a work would break out of the mould and you would get to see a great French painting.
At the Louvre, art is experiences, not seen. The walls match the art that hangs in it. The ceilings are each pieces of art on their own. I almost pulled a muscle in my neck, that I did not know existed until it began to ache.
There are three ways to see the Louvre.
One, rush through it.
Two, select the paintings or eras you want to see and target them specifically.
Three, stay there.
In the end, the Louvre was everything I imagined it and more. No books I had read, or films I had seen prepared me for the awe I experienced. Knowing that I am not even trying to recreate it here, because it is a waste of time.
By the way, there is now a photograph that shows me in front of the Mona Lisa. Yes, she is mine to keep.