The Most Famous Smile

France has a rich history of art that dates back to 15,000 BC with the cave paintings in Lascaux. Since then the French have created and collected art and today have the world’s greatest art museums.

The Louvre with the Eiffel tower in the background.

The Louvre with the Eiffel tower in the background.

While in Paris, we were face to face with the world’s most famous smile. In the world’s ranked first art museum, The Louvre, we saw many of the masterpieces that shaped the history of art. The walk to the museum was lengthy. Part of the journey included crossing the river Seine on the Ponts des Arts.

The Louvre from inside the glass pyramids.

The Louvre from inside the glass pyramids.

Siobhan, Meadhbh and Wanda in front of the pyramids.

Siobhan, Meadhbh and Wanda in front of the pyramids.

The river has thirty-seven bridges over it, several of which are completely covered with locks. The custom known as love padlocks are apparently fairly common throughout Europe and particularity associated with Paris. Testaments of love or simply existence are written on the front padlocks and are put through the chains of bridges and locked. To complete the custom the key is thrown in the water.

Seamus and Wanda on the bridge.

Seamus and Wanda on the bridge.

The Louvre from the bridge.

The Louvre from the bridge.

The locks on the bridge.

The locks on the bridge.

Past the Ponts des Arts we waited in tremendous queues by the glass pyramids for our chance to see the greatest pieces of art of all time. The interior is utterly giant. We were given Nintendo DS converted into guides in order to manage through the endless corridors and chambers, each with walls lined with priceless pieces.

Meadhbh using the DS to enjoy the museum.

Meadhbh using the DS to enjoy the museum.

Using the DS we ventured towards the Mona Lisa. After loosing our way twice and asking direction we reached her and saw for ourselves the girl who changed art forever.

[The Mona Lisa is] the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.

John Lichfield

Once in the same room it was clear where Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait was situated. The entire museum was crowed but the wall supporting the Mona Lisa was absolutely packed. We wiggled our way through the congestion to see the her.

Seamus in front of the Mona Lisa

Seamus in front of the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa has been victim to a several incidences of theft and vandalism. During our visit she was encased with a glass bulletproof cover and for good reason. This security measure has prevented damage in several events including when a terra-cotta teacup was chucked at it.

Greek statues in the museum.

Greek statues in the museum.

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A collection of paintings.

A painted cherub.

A painted cherub.

The Louvre’s greatness is not only because of the quality and quantity of the pieces but also the variety. The collections include every type of art imaginable from photography to Islamic art.

Wanda taking in the art.

Wanda taking in the art.

The Venus de Milo.

The Venus de Milo.

The D’Orsay, however is more specific to impressionist and post-impressionist art. That said, the D’Orsay contains the largest and best collection of this genre in the world. For this reason, the Musee d’Orsay is ranked as the third greatest art museum in France and the second art museum we visited in France.

Two rooms of paintings.

Two rooms of paintings.

 We saw some familiar pieces that reminded us of our time in Tahiti. In a gallery dedicated to Paul Gauguin, we saw many of the originals of the copies we had seen in his former home and office in Tahiti.

The Louvre at night.

The Louvre at night.

We spent many hours managing our way through the endless museum. We saw a lot, including the popular self-portrait done by Vincent van Gogh. The museum contained many of van Gogh’s pieces (not his ear).

– Siobhan