Being wise travelers, we didn’t want to tackle the enormous Louvre by ourselves, so we booked a Context tour. Context never disappoints! This tour was led by Pablo, a brilliant guide who knew just where to go and what to see.
We started with architecture, which I can too easily overlook. The Louvre started out as a fortress built in the 12th century, and rather than just walk by the walls on the way to somewhere more interesting, we stopped and really looked at what we were seeing.
Surrounded by a moat and reinfoced by ten towers, the fortress was meant to keep the English away (of course). These massive walls were uncovered back in the 80s and are part of the Medieval Louvre exhibit.
Next, we looked at sculpture, another kind of art that I too easily overlook. Pablo positioned us just right and commanded that we turn around to look back. Each time he did this, we saw a vista of room after room connected by doorways in perfect symmetry.
The Caryatids Room, completed during the reign of Henri II, is a good example.
And we looked up to see these heavily decorated ceilings that celebrate Henri, just in case visitors or courtiers weren’t sure just who was in charge. Note the H’s everywhere.
Pablo knew how to engage his audience. Here, for example, is an exquisite sculpture of a sleeping woman.
After we had admired her from this angle, he told us to walk slowly around it and tell him what we saw. We dutifully shuffled along and then saw this:
It took a moment for the penny to drop. Luckily, all four of us had no idea what to expect and were astonished, as we should be!
And then there was the enormous Winged Victory of Samothrace, dominating the space, which we examined from all angles.
Again, he told us to turn around and enjoy the vistas through the galleries from this vantage point. It’s placed here for a reason, but we might not have noticed its position without Pablo’s help.
The final hour was spent visiting old friends:
The Coronation of Napoleon by David (an early example of fake news, since some people pictured were not there, and some others who were there were not pictured)
The stirring Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix
Veronese’s Wedding at Cana (which is positioned directly across from the Mona Lisa and as we all agreed is a much more interesting and significant painting)
This tender Old man and His Grandson by Ghirlandaio
And more, of course. The tour was terrific because Pablo made us not just look but see.
Then, of course, lunch, and Pablo recommended Café Blanc, a place that was filled mostly with French people eating their food with precision and appreciation. This was mine, a salad whose flavors were primarily that of cheese, ham and potatoes. Notice how beautifully the tiny potatoes are placed on the plate.
Then home to the apartment to await Silla’s arrival. I looked up the street and down the street, and there she was! What joy to see her again.
After Silla got settled in, we walked over to our favorite food street to find dinner. We brought home something that I failed to record, but there’s no doubt that we ate something and it was good! More adventures to come tomorrow.