Born and brought up in a culture far removed from the glamour and gloss of the big ultra-fast cities, I had no way to fulfill my travel fantasies other than turning to books and the movies. One of the places that continuously lit up my TV screen and my ever creative imagination was Paris. It was a tumultuous struggle for me to watch the Eiffel Tower so gloriously lit up in the night and me not being there to bask in the awe of such splendor.
Today, Paris is known as the ‘fashion capital ‘of the world. Aspiring designers from all over this lovely planet dream to make it big in Paris. I don’t think I need to mention that Paris is also synonymous with love - it is the honeymoon destination that most couples would give an arm and a leg to be atBut there is more to Paris than just fashion and honeymoon aspirations.
The eras go by, new beginning dawns but what remains is the indelible mark of the bygone era. Something that Paris understands very well. I was rendered speechless when I first saw ‘The Louvre’. Even from outside, it casts an imposing figure. Boasting of nearly 70 distinguished museums, Paris houses the handiwork of some of the greatest and most coveted figures in the world of art, cinema, sculpture, and literature. Let’s have a look at some of these magnificent museums.
The Louvre - Built in 1204 A.D. by Phillipe August, the last king of the Franks, the Louvre was once the palace of the French royalty. Today, it is the world’s richest museum, both in terms of finance and more importantly in terms of the masterpieces of ancient art, paintings, and sculptures it houses. The mystery of the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa is known to everyone. In Louvre, rests the masterpiece by the master artist Leonardo Da Vinci. See if you could interpret the smile, eh? The Louvre also houses another of Da Vinci’s masterpiece - The Vitruvian Man. Works from other prominent masters such as Michelangelo, Bellin, Donatello and Maillol are also well represented in this behemoth of a museum.
Perhaps, the most intriguing part of the Louvre is the ‘Espaces Carrousel du Louvre’. I puzzled over the design and yet could not figure out what ingenuity it must have taken to think of something of this nature. I can only try to describe it. The ‘Carrousel du Louvre’ is a vast space that runs beneath the fames Pyramid of Louvre and stretches beyond the Arc Du Carrousel. The central crossroads, known as the ‘Place de la Pyramide Inversee’, receives daylight from an inverted pyramid. It is a picture to behold and is very aptly portrayed in Dan Brown’s book-Da Vinci Code.
Orsay Museum - A novelty in its own right, the Orsay Museum is actually housed in the former Gare d’Orsay train station! The museum, or you can call it the station, is situated on the right bank of the picturesque Siene river making it even more difficult to resist the charm of this place. The museum is famous for its impressive collection of impressionist paintings and has on display the works of such renowned painters as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Eugene Delacroix, Theodore Chasseriau, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Eugene Boudin, and Alexander Cabanel.
National Museum of Modern Art - The tussle for the best museum in Paris, perhaps the world, is between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art. And the National Museum of Modern Art is a worthy competitor! The museum was first conceived in 1947 and was then housed at the Palais De Tokyo. Later, in 1977, it was moved to its current location at Center Pompidou. The museum is host to second largest collection of contemporary and modern art in the world- narrowly missing out the top spot to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Even the building of the museum is a fine example of unrestrained creativity of the modern art. Some of the famous paintings adorning the walls of the museum are – To the Unknown Voice by Vassili Kandinsky, Pure Painting by Theo Van Doesburg, Entrance to the Port of Marseille by Paul Signac, and The Painter and His Model by Henry Matisse.
There are many more museums that I so want to list but then again I leave it up to you to explore the rest during your stay in Paris.