Photo credit: David Martínez
Although I have wanted to travel to Paris my whole life I didn’t make it there until very recently when I took my wife Sharon on what was our first trip together to this wondrous place. She had never been there before either, so we shared in the excitement of seeing this city for the first time.
Inevitably we went to the Louvre. In fact, it was the one thing that I wanted to do most of all. So, on Friday morning we took a taxi from the Hotel Joyce on Rue La Bruyère to Le Musée du Louvre along the Seine. Almost simultaneously, as we rode into the rotary around La Pyramide Inversée, we spotted the famed Louvre pyramid on our left and the Eiffel Tower in the distance to our right. I couldn’t believe we were finally here!
Fortunately, when we got in line we went in swiftly with our Paris Museum Passes, which we purchased at the Charles De Gaulle airport upon our arrival. Then, after checking in our coats and backpacks—which you do at separate counters—we looked at our museum map, then headed up the Denon entryway in pursuit of the Italian Renaissance galleries and the Mona Lisa. What we saw first made my heart beat faster. It was the Winged Victory of Samothrace! There she stood at the top of a wide staircase, bathed in light and splendor.
In a very peculiar sense going to the Louvre was comparable to my first trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Allow me to explain. They are both places that have lived in my imagination since childhood. They are also places whose images have inundated my visual world for so long that the idea of going to see them in person was going to see something that I thought was abundantly familiar. However, when you finally see them in person you realize in a wave of amazement that none of the countless photos and videos do justice to the lived experience. In the case of the Louvre, and my initial moment before the Winged Victory Samothrace, I was seeing this with newborn vision. In a word, I was awestruck! Indeed, that feeling of genuine wonder stayed with me throughout all the galleries, from the ancient Greek sculptures to the Flemish and German paintings.
As for Da Vinci’s “La Joconde,” of course I had long heard about how you will be disappointed with how small it is in actuality. Consequently, I did not enter the first floor gallery expecting a life-size image, but rather the 77 X 53 cm painting I had read about, in addition to seeing in art history books. What I did not anticipate was the radiant energy this otherwise modest work emitted from behind its glass encasement. The “Mona Lisa, Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco del Giocondo” is displayed in the middle of a large gallery, surrounded by dozens of other 16th century works. Yet, there was only one image in that room that everyone wanted to see, and it was hers. So, no, I was not disappointed by this nor any other facet of my first trip to the Louvre. On the contrary, it left me wanting to return to Paris as soon as possible. In the meantime, please click on the link below, which will take you to a flickr album I created, where you can see several more photos I took during my transformative visit. Thank you.