Paris walks...le Louvre et les Jardins des Tuileries
Paris is une fête visuel, a visual feast, a city best savored à pied, on foot. Walking through Paris allows us to enjoy the real flavors and textures of the city. One of the best things about Paris is the sheer variety of its attractions and their proximity to one another. There is something to behold at every turn. Yesterday, we began our promenade dans le premier arrondissement. Today we will continue dans le premier and visit, as we did yesterday, a few places we've already seen as well as some new ones. Alors, pour la fête visuel pour ajourd'hui, if you have your comfortable walking shoes on and in hand your carnet pour le Métro, encore allons-y!
Aujord'hui, we'll take ligne 1, the original line of le Métro, which opened in 1900. We'll get off le Métro at Louvre-Rivoli.
When we come out of le Métro onto rue de Rivoli, we notice one of the Hector Guimard's fantastic art nouveau signs for le Métro.
For today, we resist the shopping tempations offered by rue de Rivoli which is one of the most famous streets in Paris, and turn instead onto rue de l'Amrial de Coligny, which is very near where we ended nôtre promenade hier, our walk yesterday à le pont Neuf. We walk south toward la Seine. On our left is the elegant wine bar, Le Fumoir. Next is l'église-de-Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, once the royal parish church for the kings of France. It is known for its flamboyant Gothic porch, which was built in 1435.
Now, we cross the street and turn into le Louvre, entering at Cour Carrée. This is one of the oldest parts of le Louvre, dating from the XVI ème siecle, although the very oldest parts (of which little remains) date from 1190.
Note la Pyramide in the background.
We walk across le Cour Carrée toward la Pyramide, the entrance to le Louvre designed by Chinese-American abstract modernist architect I.M. Pei. La Pyramide was built as an entrance to relieve congestion caused by long lines of tourists wishing to visit le Louvre. It successfully acts as a skylight for the ticket-selling and reception area below, but the design was controversial when it was built at end of the 1980s and remains controversial today.
One cannot really do justice to le Louvre in so short a time as we have today, so we'll just descend into the building through la Pyramide and walk toward la Place du Carrousel, which is another entrance to le musée, and is home both to the museum's retail stores and to a small mall of upscale retailers anxious to lighten the load of Euros lining the pockets of visitors.
We exit here and immediately notice what appears to be a small version of l'arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. Indeed, this is l' arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and like its larger sibling at the west end of l'avenue-des-Champs-Élysées, is a monument Napoléon I built to himself.
L'arc de Triomphe-du-Carrousel was built between 1806 and 1808 following the model of the Arch of Constantine in Rome. The two arches conceived by Napoléon, l'arc de Triomphe-du-Carrousel et l'arc de Triomphe-de-l'Étoile, were erected to commemorate his victories, and the grand armies he had commanded. The bronze horses which originally perched on top of l'arc de Triomphe-du-Carrousel were taken from la cathédrale-de-Saint-Marc-de-Venise. These were later returned to Itallie after le deuxième guerre mondiale and replaced with horses of a similar design which were (ahem) not stolen from an invaded country.
The monument is richly decorated in rose marble on the columns and the front paneling. It is part of the so-called Grand Axis of Paris, la Voie Triomphale, which consists of la Grande Arche-de-la-Défense to the west, l'arc de-Triomphe-de-l'Etoile à la place du Général Charles de Gaulle, l'avenue-ses-Champs-Élysées, l'Obélisque de Luxor à la Place de la Concorde, les Jardins des Tuileries, l'arc de-Triomphe-du-Carrousel, et le Palais du Louvre culminating at the eastern end.
L'arc-de-Triomphe-du-Carrousel is composed of three arches: a big one and two little ones. While the principal structure is 63 feet high, 75 feet wide, and 24 feet deep, the ceiling of the big arch is 21 feet high and 9 feet wide, and the two small arches are each 14 feet, 16 inches high and 9 feet wide. The arch , as written above, is surmounted by a group of men on horses underneath which one finds the names of the battles and treaties of Napoléon.
Stepping west through the arch, we are at the eastern end of les Jardins des Tuileries, which is the central-most park in Paris. Filled with sculptured gardens, statues, fountains, and shaped chestnut trees, it is a delightful place, stretching from the western end of le Louvre to la Place de la Concorde, bordered by la Seine on the south.
There was a palace here in what once was a sort of sheep pasture cum butcher's slop dump, which also had a couple of tile factories - tuileries - thus the name. In 1518, François I had a country house built here for his mother, Louise de Savoie. In 1564 the queen mother, Catherine de Médicis, decided to have a hôtel built for herself, to the west beyond le Louvre. That hôtel evolved into le palais des Tuileries, which reached its zenith in the work done to it under Louis XIV by the architects le Vau and d'Orbay. Those of you who have been making these travels in la belle France with Louis la Vache for a while probably will recall that le Vau designed Vaux-le-Vicomte and went on to transform the former hunting lodge at Versailles into the magnificent palais we know today.
Pierre Le Nôtre was the first to put a hand to les jardins that became the park we now see. His plantings were in an Italian style. There were trees in quinconces (alternate rows), mazes, a fountain, a grotto and enameled potteries by Bernard Palissy. Henri IV had mulberry bushes planted along the north side, for feeding silk worms. Pierre's son, Jean le Nôtre furthered the work of his father, but it was André Le Nôtre, the grandson of Pierre, who was commissioned in 1664 by Louis XIV, to make the garden as grand as le Vau and d'Orbay were making le palais des Tuileries.
These now-tranquil gardens have a bloody history. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were held prisoner in the palace, after being routed from Versailles during the French Revolution, and the siege at les Tuileries by the Parisian mob at the close of the revolution in 1893 left a thousand dead. In the revolution of 1848, Louis-Philippe and the queen hid in the palace until able to escape in an ordinary cab and then went into exile in Angleterre. Le Palais des Tuileries was looted and burned once again during the Paris Commune of 1871. After this torching, what was left of the palace was scrapped. The newspaper Le Figaro bought bricks from the demolition of the palace and gave them away as paperweight souvenirs advertising the paper, to say the least, an ignominious end to le palais.
Walking through the west end of gardens, we bear south toward la Seine. Here we come to l'Orangerie, built as a hothouse to grow oranges, but now un musée for many paintings by les Impressionistes. It is here that we find Monet's famous les Nymphéas, "Water Lillies." What many people don't know is that Les Nymphéas are not one painting, as we might expect from their popularity as a poster. Rather, les Nymphéas are a series of huge panels that occupy vast areas of the walls of a special room built for them at l'Orangerie. Monet gave les Nymphéas to France at the end of la premiere guerre mondiale as a "bouquet to (his) country." From l'Orangerie, we walk north across the west end of the gardens. Before we exit onto la Place de la Concorde we come to le Jeu de Paume, built as an enclosed tennis court, now used for temporary art exhibits.
Louis la Vache hopes that you've enjoyed today's promenade. Louis promises you that we'll soon visit les Jardins des Tuileries again and spent a little more time here. As we walk through la place de la Concorde, we enter the Concorde station of le Métro and once again board a train on ligne 1 for our trip home.
Treasures of the Louvre