Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Cour Napoléon

I can't walk by the Louvre without paying homage to Mr. Pei, the architect of the famous pyramid entrance to the museum. When I first lived in Paris in 1981, the museum entrance was tucked away in a corner of the courtyard, which doubled as a parking lot. The only way to find it was to look for a line of people waiting to enter.

The entrance to the Louvre museum in the Cour Napoléon.

Today, cars are all but banished from the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and fountains around it clearly mark the entrance to the museum, even from a distance. The façades of the old buildings have been meticulously cleaned and restored. The overall effect is majestic. Quite fitting for a former royal palace, I think.

Pointing skyward.

The courtyard brims with activity, none of which is impeded by the line of museum visitors waiting to enter. There's a café under the arcade of the Richelieu wing to the north. People sit or lie in the sun on the sides of the angular pools around the pyramid. They gather on the steps up to the passageway to the Cour Carrée for photos, or a quick snack.

Old and new.

I walked through slowly, snapping a quick shot now and then, and made my way into the Cour Carrée. I remembered that just under my feet lie the restored foundations of the Louvre castle of the middle ages; Ken and I visited that part of the museum many years ago.

Every courtyard should have its own cleaning machine.

I made my way through the Porte Champollion, which gives out onto the river and the Pont des Arts. Through one of the glass windows I caught a glimpse of the Institut de France and its dome. I passed through to the bridge and left the Louvre and the right bank behind me.

L'Institut de France.

More tomorrow...


  1. That last photo is spectacular. You have such a good eye for the unusual.


  2. You didn't by any chance happen to pick up the phone number for me of the cute young man in the dark top wearing sunglasses and walking away from the Louvre?

  3. @Victor isn't that wcs himself? ;p

  4. Our Prius refuses to do lawns,heck it can't even rid itself of all the ugly yellow pollen that covers itself!

    A hybrid lawnmower sounds like a good idea to me.

  5. ooh but I want to see Paris before I die, even just to see the Louvre.
    I wonder if The DaVinci Code has increased tourism to the pyramid?

  6. This is a lovely fresh take on a well-known place.

    I must ask, what's with the "Ceiling detail at l'Orangerie" in the Image of the Week? What detail? I love the sleek redesign of l'Orangerie, but that part of the ceiling looks like the inside of a sleek cereal bowl to me.

  7. susie, thanks!

    victor, nope, sorry.

    evol, uh, maybe in a past life. Not.

    evelyn, they are persnickety cars, aren't they?

    spo, you simply have to make plans.

    chris, the ceiling is like a cereal bowl. It lets in daylight, but indirectly. And there's a muslin (I guess) sheet between the ceiling and the room to diffuse the light even more.

  8. The first time I visited France in 1989, the pyramid was very new and there was still a bit of "controversy" about it. As a 16 year old, I didn't like it very much, but now as a ... adult :) I really think it's stunning, especially looking from the inside out!

  9. Ur-spo you shouldn't leave it too long - it may be too late. Do it now.

  10. vivi, I agree. I think the initial shock of it was difficult for Parisians, but I get the impression that most people like it now.

  11. A co-worker of mine took this photo of the Pyramid and it won 3rd place in our office art competition.

  12. cheryl, cool, thanks for the link. He has some nice pics there!


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