We arrived in Paris in the early afternoon on the train from London. It was a relatively quick trip, about 2 1/2 hours. We got settled into our hotel (teeny rooms but more about that another day), then decided to spend the evening at the Louvre since it was open late.
The cab driver let us out on the street, pointing across the way and saying "the Louvre is over there". It was what you would picture a city street - busy, souvenir shops, traffic, kinda grungy-ish (sorry, Paris) and as I looked up at the dark stone wall in front of me, I was a bit skeptical about where he dropped us off. We crossed the street towards an entry tunnel and walked thru. When we got to the other side of the wall, I actually gasped and my eyes widened. Remember when Dorothy lands in Oz and the movie goes from black and white to color? It was better than that, and that is one of my favorite parts. Stepping into the space of the Louvre was awe-inspiring. I've seen the facade in photos, seen the Pyramid in tour guides, but somewhere along the way never realized the size and grandeur of the palace. The museum looks like it extends forever and in it's u-shape design, you feel enclosed in this art world. And if you step over and look just pass the wing, there's the Eiffel Tower in the distance. I said to my daughter, we could be outside all day; but we did make our way inside.
Of course, the famed lady with the smile was on the must-see list. But, oh those Louvre folks don't just hang her at the front door, you've got to do some work to find her. We went thru the Roman statues - my son is about done with the naked people in art, but I was impressed to find that L was actually paying attention in history and reading classes and could identify many of the gods (although, as she reminded me, these were Roman, she studied Greek. She did pretty well when we got to that side, too). And then we went thru more paintings, mostly religious, L was sure that she had seen the same paintings a few days ago in the London museum and I promised her they were not the
same. Her siblings agreed. "Birth of Jesus", "crucifixion" - seen it. There were even a few saints and stories unknown to us before a few days ago, so when they saw paintings of them, that just further strengthened their argument. More proof? The fact that there happened to be an art exhibit in the DC art museum of an artist's distinctive paintings - portraits made with fruits and vegetables - and those "same" paintings were now hanging here.
Many have said it's a small painting at the end of a hall, but I guess they moved it or something. The Mona Lisa hangs in the middle of a
gallery room, on a wall all by herself. If you don't recognize her, follow the crowd milling around her. N thought she was pretty but didn't see what was the big deal. Something's are a big deal, just because that's their role - to be oohed and ahh-ed over. Unfortunately, you really can't sit and stare at her and come to your own thoughts. There's such a bustle about her, that you feel compelled to look, note that you saw her in real life, then move out of the next person's way to do the same. She's so crowded, that her eyes probably can't follow you as you walk away. And perhaps she is smiling, as she may be the only one who knows what secret she holds, why everyone is so enamored with her.
We bid adieu to Da Vinci's work, then headed to find another beautiful lady, this one's secret - what she was holding in her hands, before her arms went missing.