My husband and I live in a rural farming area of France. The closest cities of any size are La Rochelle to the west, Poitiers to the north and Angouleme to the south. All three of these small cities are a little over an hour or so away from where we live and they provide us with a bit of ‘city’ sophistication, but really, in France, there’s nowhere like Paris!
To reach the center of Paris, far, far away, would take us at least 5 to 6 hours of driving and then when we got there, where would we park? But we are very lucky that a small market town only about 15 miles from our house has a station where the French fast train, the TGV, stops every morning at 9:37 and gets you to Paris exactly 2 hours later…just in time for lunch.
You know you are in Paris when you can see the Eiffel Tower
Recently on a Friday morning I caught that train for a ‘Girls Weekend in Paris’. My husband had gone to England for a family visit, so I thought Paris! I have a close friend who lives there and she said ‘Yes, come!’. She met me at the Gare Montparnasse and whisked me off to the Latin Quarter for lunch at a unpretentious but none-the-less ‘chic’ little Japanese restaurant on the rue St. Benoit called Yen. We began with Bento boxes that were works of art, each delicate morsel in the little compartments exquisitely beautiful and delicious. About half way through our lunch, in walked the great French actress, Catherine Deneuve, who sat one table away. I tried hard not to stare and only took a photo from outside through the glass after we left.
We lunched with Catherine Deneuve!
We had planned a shopping stroll after lunch but it was cold and drizzling so we opted for an afternoon movie. That was a thrill for me as seeing a film on the big screen is a real rarity for someone who lives in a tiny farming village in the middle-of-nowhere France. And, by the way, if you haven’t seen ‘The Big Short’, do! Home for a quiet evening of supper and Scrabble, because Saturday morning was reserved for the main event of the weekend, a visit to the Louvre, and we meant to be there early.
I haven’t been to the Louvre in years. We go up to Paris only 2 or 3 times a year and when we do, there is always something else to do. But on this visit I wanted to commune again with some of the great works of art in this most famous, (and perhaps greatest), museum in the world. The ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’, Michelangelo’s ‘Dying Slave’, the ‘Venus de Milo’, Canova’s ‘Cupid and Psyche’ topped the list. It was sculpture I wanted to see, so we made a plan to concentrate on seeing these specific works rather than aimlessly wandering the truly huge museum that is the Louvre. One could spend weeks in there and not see everything, so no nod to Mona on this visit!
The Pyramids of Paris
We entered via the now famous Glass Pyramids of I. M. Pei into the vast space underneath which I was amazed to find has become something of a chi-chi shopping mall with an Apple Store, a branch of the famous French department store, Printemps and lots of little luxe boutiques….but we weren’t there to shop!
Shopping in the Louvre?
Get you iPhone here.
The first stop for me had to be the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ who stands at the top of a grand staircase. She was as breath-taking this time as she has always been for me. I will leave it to you to do the research if you wish to know the history of this magnificent ancient Greek sculpture…but for me, simply seeing her is the thing. One could say she is self-explanatory.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Close up of The Winged Victory
Detail of the Winged Victory
Next on my list was the ‘Venus de Milo’. It’s a fact that, like the ‘Mona Lisa’, she has become something of a visual cliché, but when you are there in front of her, the actual marble statue, in the flesh as it were, it would be hard for the most jaded person to fail to be moved. This ancient Greek sculpture tells us a lot about the inherent nobility of human beings, be they male or female.
The Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo from the back
We moved on to a room filled with sculpture in the Denon Wing of the museum where you can find among others, Michelangelo’s ‘Dying Slave’, Canova’s exquisite ‘Cupid and Psyche’, and the iconic bronze of ‘Mercury’. Each piece begs for a long look from every angle.
The Dying Slave by Michelangelo
Detail of the Dying Slave
Cupid and Psyche by Canova
Detail of Cupid and Psyche
Bronze Mercury by Giambologna
Detail of Mercury
At last having filled our eyes, we were ready for lunch at the Louvre. From the many possibilities for eating inside the museum, we chose the Cafe Richelieu which is a quiet and elegant little oasis away from the crowds. Our meal was superb and we topped it off with one of their famous patisserie. For me, macaroons flavored with violets, garnished with fresh raspberries and slathered with creme Chantilly…to die for!
We lunched in the lovely Cafe Richelieu
Macaroons flavored with Violets
Of course, after lunch, as we made our way out, we dipped into many of the galleries we passed for glimpses of a bit of the Parthenon Frieze, Medieval ivories, enamel work and stained glass, Egyptian treasures, and on and on.
Just looking at the ceilings in the Louvre is breathtaking
A fragment of the Parthenon Frieze
An exquisite Medieval carved ivory
The great Sculpture Court
But my appetite had been satisfied by the great sculptures I had feasted on earlier. Still I look forward to going back to the Louvre soon for another feast for the eyes…and the spirit. And the lunch was great too!
A happy me after my perfect visit to the Louvre
All photos are copyright of Nan Cannon.