The Louvre is yet another amazing Parisian attraction. It is actually a palace built on top of stone foundations that are the only remnants of a 12th century fortress. The Louvre first opened as a museum in 1793.
Some people don’t like the Pyramids built in front of the Louvre in 1989 but they function well. The clear glass sloping sides don’t make the front courtyard seem crowded, yet they bring a lot of light into the underground lobby and gift shop area. They look both contemporary and Egyptian which is a nice contrast to the traditional French architecture.
The Louvre is so huge and so crowded that if I had to do it over again, I would take a guided tour to get a better overview of the museum and highlights of its art collection. I basically just walked through as much of the Louvre as I could until I was exhausted.
I recall that I spent a lot of time in the Egyptian area because the pieces there were far superior to any I had seen in other museums. I never did see the Mona Lisa because I just ran out of energy before I got there. I figured it would give me reason to return someday.
The Musee d’Orsay was another museum we visited. It is a former railway station in use from 1900-1939. It was almost demolished to make way for a hotel, but instead re-opened as an art museum in 1986. The museum holds mostly French art from 1848-1915. I remember how much I enjoyed seeing the Impressionist paintings there.
The building is fascinating inside and out. The mood is much different from the Louvre, being much more intimate and contemporary. The French are masters at making the contrast between old and new work beautifully throughout Paris.