A visit to the Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments

During my last days in France, I decided to pay a visit to the Louvre. My parents used to drag me there on weekends in my early childhood but I hadn’t gone back since. What a shame, I know.

The Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums but its history is not so well known. The medieval remains in the basement level recall the origins of the palace as a fortress. The Louvre then became a royal residence until Louis XIV decided to move far away to Versailles along with his court. The Sun King still used the building to store his private art collection, as did his successors. It was not until the French Revolution that the Louvre became a museum open to the public.

In its history, the Louvre underwent a considerable amount of additions and renovations. The most controversial is certainly the glass Pyramid completed in 1989. Now one of the symbols of the museum with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the monument represents the union of contemporary art and historical buildings which has become a strong trend in France over the years.

But let’s get back to my visit, shall we? At first I decided to come back another time as entry tickets usually cost 9.50 euros and I only had a couple of hours to spare. But it turned out the entrance was free for the permanent collections, as it is the case on every first Sunday of the month. What a nice surprise!

Have you ever wondered what’s under the Louvre Pyramid?

According to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, this mini-pyramid encloses a dark secret.

Once in the museum, I headed straight towards the two sections I wanted to visit yet took the time to admire these sculptures.

I then arrived to my first destination, the Napoleon III apartments which had impressed me in picture by their splendor. Napoleon III’s reign from 1852 to 1870 goes down in history for considerably changing the face of Paris. The French capital was thoroughly modernized and transformed, its street lined with stone buildings of uniformed height. The outside architecture remains, but what did the inside of the apartments look like at the time?

The large Drawing Room is one of the main areas of the Louvre’s Napoleon III apartments. Imagine men in costume and women in crinoline gowns entertaining themselves in this luxurious setting with a piano recital as background music.

I must say I am fascinated by chandeliers and the sparkle and mass of their crystal.

Isn’t this fireplace exquisite with its fine golden details, the clock and the cupids?

Now that the concert is over, let’s head towards the Dining Room (and notice the original piece of furniture with three seats on your way).

And take in the view of the Tuileries gardens.

And here is the Dining Room. Guess how many people were seated?

These portraits represent the imperial couple Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie.

In my next post, we will continue our visit of the Louvre and go way back in time. Talk to you soon!

Lors de mes derniers jours à Paris, j’ai décidé d’aller au Louvre. Mes parents m’y emmenaient régulièrement quand j’étais enfant mais je n’y été pas retournée depuis. C’est une honte, je sais.

Le Louvre est l’un des musées les plus célèbres du monde, mais il est avant tout un lieu chargé d’histoire. On peut encore voir les ruines médiévales au sous-sol, rappelant que le palais était à l’origine une forteresse. Le Louvre devint ensuite la demeure des rois de France jusqu’à ce que Louis XIV décide de s’exiler avec sa cour à Versailles. Il utilisa néanmoins le palais pour exposer ses collections d’art et fut imité par ses successeurs. C’est finalement lors de la Révolution  que le Louvre devint un musée public.

Le Louvre a connu de nombreuses rénovations et additions au fil des ans mais la plus controversée est sans doute la Pyramide de verre inaugurée en 1989. Devenue le symbole du musée avec la Joconde, elle représente la tendance de la cohabitation entre art moderne et bâtiments historiques français qui a encore du mal à passer dans l’opinion générale, comme le montre l’exposition Murakami au Château de Versailles.

Mais revenons à ma visite. Le prix du billet d’entrée m’a d’abord découragée : 9,50€ alors que je ne pouvais y rester que 2 heures. Mais en fait les visites des collections permanentes étaient gratuites ce jour-là, comme chaque 1er dimanche du mois. Quelle bonne surprise !

Vous vous êtes déjà demandé ce qu’il y a sous la pyramide du Louvre ? D’après le Da Vinci Code, cette mini-pyramide contient des restes humains, et pas n’importe lesquels. J’avais un but bien précis (enfin, deux) lors de ma visite. En chemin, j’ai quand même pris le temps d’admirer ces sculptures.

Puis je suis arrivée au premier but de mon excursion : les appartements Napoléon III qui m’avaient impressionnée en photo par leur faste. Le règne de Napoléon III entre 1852 et 1870 a considérablement marqué Paris : la capitale a été transformée et modernisée sous la direction du baron Haussmann. On connaît l’extérieur des bâtiments de pierre haussmanniens, mais comment étaient les intérieurs ?

L’une des pièces principales des appartements Napoléon III est le Grand salon. On peut facilement imaginer les hommes en costume et les femmes en robe à crinoline s’entretenant dans ce décor avec un récital de piano en musique de fond. Je dois vous avouer que je suis fascinée par les lustres, l’éclat et la masse de leur cristal. A défaut d’avoir l’appartement qui va avec, on peut toujours les admirer. Cette cheminée n’est-elle pas exquise avec ses dorures, son horloge et ses chérubins ?

Après avoir écouté le concert et discuté au salon, rendons-nous maintenant dans la salle à manger pour le banquet (et remarquez le meuble à trois sièges au passage). Et admirez la vue sur Paris. Et voici la salle à manger. Devinez combien de gens étaient à table ? Voici les portraits du couple impérial Napoléon III et de l’impératrice Eugénie.

Dans mon prochain billet, nous restons au Louvre mais changeons d’époque. A bientôt !

89 Comments

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89 responses to “A visit to the Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments

  1. The Napoleon Apartments were one of my favourite discoveries on my visit. I could have spent days there searching…..

  2. Oulala, ça brille !
    Je ne suis jamais allée dans cette partie du Louvre, je crois. Ma partie préférée est celle sur l’Antiquité, et puis la salle des grands formats (toujours bondée normal). Enfin, faut que je profite de mon statut étudiant de moins 26 ans de l’UE :)

  3. Je ne peux pas imaginer habiter avec cette grandeur… c’est tellement belle.

  4. What a quaint little “apartment.” ;)

    Thank you for sharing — spectacular pix!

  5. ive been to the louvre entrance three times, and left each one b/c there were too many people…these pics are making me regret that decision.

  6. The Louvre is massive. I never got to see all of it. My main focus was seeing the Mona Lisa…which was much smaller than I expected. It is truly a beautiful place…but I was not in love with the pyramids.

  7. Loved the picture of Louvre Pyramid, specially because it comes comes in Da Vinchi Code! :-)

  8. Ah may zing! looks so beautiful there. every time i see pictures of europe it makes me want to sell all my belongings and move there for a few months. nice pictures. isn’t weird that there’s an apple store there too?

  9. This was so fascinating. Thanks for sharing the lush photos of Napolean’s apartments. I haven’t been to the Louvre since 1997. Time to visit Paris. I totally admire your ability to write and speak fluently in two of my favorite languages.

  10. I can’t imagine being inside of the Louvre. Love the beautiful sculptures.

  11. I am sooo glad I stumbled upon your blog! I just got back from France 3 days ago and have been to the Louvre numerous times but never to the apartments. Merci beaucoup pour les photos!

    I can’t wait to find the time to read all your postings! A glass of wine and a couch…. I was in Paris back in January for the Maison et Objet Expo and look forward to coming back!

    Tammi

    • Lucky you for going to Maison et Objet! I went there once when I interned for Baccarat and would love to go nack. See you soon on the blog I hope ;-) Oh and thank you for adding Ritournelle to your blogroll!

  12. It is my belief that with 3D and its ultimate perfection, virtual reality trips via our internet in the very near future. How wonderful the thought that “homebound” anyone will be able to see and walk thru such places in the world. In our current craze for social contact via the net, the step beyond this will be actual contact with others while touring these virtual realities in the future. As far as today, you did a wonderful job in pictures and words of this beautiful sharing of your trip. Thank you very much.

  13. Sorry but I forgot to add that I like that you write in English and French. This will help my French very much! I am also adding you to my blogroll on my blog.

  14. So pretty. Would love to be able to visit the Louvre someday. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

  15. As someone stated above, I can not inagine living in such grandeur. But the view of the Tuileries, I will take that. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  16. I’m a huge Napoleonic Fan – we share the same birthday! Thank you for posting these gorgeous photos! And I do hope you get to swap clothes with Sofia Coppola : )

  17. Love it, last time I was there, it was the first place I went to visit. Somehow it was one of the most fascinating parts of the visit.
    Took a couple of photos there too, but exteriors and in HDR.
    http://martinsoler.com/2010/02/03/lonely-at-the-louvre/
    and
    http://martinsoler.com/2009/12/14/inverted-pyramid-by-apple/

    looking forward to your next post!

  18. Jeannetta Vivere

    really looking forward to the rest…ty

  19. Ava

    I love this post, Anne! I didn’t know all that history about the Louvre (shame on me) – specially the bit about how it used to be a fortress.

    And in addition to the mummies, my other favorite part of the museum has always been the Napoleon apartments! I once saw a girl in one of the ballrooms, waltzing around with an imaginary partner (her arms outstretched as if on a man’s shoulders), with her eyes closed. They really do inspire awe and help you imagine what it must have been like at their height!

    Thank you for sharing :)

    • Thank you, I’m glad you like it! Yes, the Louvre has an amazing history of its own but only a small proportion of visitors know about it; the museum should highlight it more. I remember seeing the medieval remains a long time ago, it was really impressive!
      Sooooo guess what’s coming up in the next post? ;-)

  20. Hi there! Great post about the Louvre! Love the pictures you took about the Napoleon Apartments… I was there this summer and being a great fan of Dan Brown’s book, i was like a little child, all estatic and all! :)
    http://ourjotterbook.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/railing-thru-europe-stop-6-1-france-paris/

  21. pawpoint

    What an amazing trip it must have been! I love the photographs, they remind me of my trip to Paris and the Louvre. Unfortunately I only got to spend 2 hours there, which is not NEARLY enough. Thanks for the great post!

    • Thanks for your comment! 2 hours is definitely not enough given how very huge the Louvre is.
      It wasn’t really a trip for me since I’m French and lived in Paris for a long time. Now that I live in the US I regret that I didn’t make more visits like this one.

  22. great collection of photos. the colors in those apartments are so vivid!!!

  23. Pingback: A visit to the Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments (via Ritournelle) « Språkbloggen

  24. Félicitations! I love the Louvre and Napoleon’s apartments. It’s so beautiful.

  25. ky

    I dream that there is one day I will visit France?

  26. vixstar1314

    wow great pictures.
    I’ve been to Paris 3 times, and I love it more each time. It’s a beautiful city. The Louvre is an amazing architect.

  27. Of course everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa and you are prepared to see that it’s smaller than expected. And all the tourists are told not to take pictures and of course they are snapping away. I remember just walking from one side to the other to see if her eyes followed me. I think they did. haha.
    That place is magical. Seeing your pics makes me want to go back.

  28. The Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments? Thanks, wonderful photos, but I would travel to another destination.

  29. Jules

    Awesome photos! Thanks for sharing whats inside the Louvre Pyramid :-)

  30. What a wonderful blog post! I really enjoyed it, thanks for putting up so many beautiful pictures.

  31. The Louvre is a beautiful place. It’s amazing how the ancients managed to paint and sculpt such amazing art pieces without modern day technology.

    My favourite sculpture there would have to be the Winged Victory of Somothrace. The rippling of her skirt really makes it seem like she is standing on the helm of a boat!

  32. Hello. Thanks for the tour! I love France and Germany. Germany is where my favorite uncles livess. I had a chance once to visit France an other cities but a lost in the family -I had to stay behind. But Iwill one day soon! The pictures are so schon!

  33. I wish I could also visit this place sometime. I re-watched The Da Vinci Code just recently, and I swear, the urge of me being there in Louvre is kicking like hell. Anyway, thanks for sharing the experience and the photos. I love it! :)

  34. I especially enjoyed the Napoleon apts, so rich and illustrative of Napoleon’s wealth and the times. I have not been to the Louvre and my desire to go is now intensified. I enjoyed the Vatican museum in Rome but clearly the Louvre is in a class on its own. Since I live on the west coast of Canada, I imagine I will monitor your posts so that I can learn through your experience. Thank you for your post.

  35. Ah! La splendeur de Paris! J’ai envie d’y retourner!
    Your lovely post reminds me why I featured Paris in my novel.
    Merci!
    Juliann

  36. so very beautiful..i do hope i get to visit the Louvre one day..your soo lucky!! (:

  37. roger9527

    Looks very beautiful, wish I could go to these places

  38. I cannot imagine day-to-day life in such a place. There is so much to look at, I wouldn’t know where to start. Thank you for sharing the photos.
    -Jen

  39. Awesome pictures. Love them!

  40. I got to spend 2 precious hours there 2 months ago. I appreciate the history you provided! I loved every second I was there and wished it could be longer. Gorgeous pics!

  41. hadasw

    We visited Paris last winter and – much like other cementers here, I had to give up visiting this part. The photos are of exquisite quality – thank you. There is in Tel-Aviv an apartment decorated as if these time – it was on the paper – so people sometimes even now days can and wish to live in such setting – apropos yet another comment here. I like also the features of that time piano with the ornamental lines around its shape. Scaling antiques and modernity – I think the antiques are really comfortable for all (more) in the museum ;-)

  42. The Content Guy

    These sure brought back memories of my holiday in Paris. :)

  43. Amazing…
    This is a smart blog. You have so much knowledge about this place, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Youve got a design here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what youre saying. Great job, indeed.

  44. Congratulations on being freshly pressed. I am a fan of your opinions and well balanced views. Thanks for sharing them.

  45. kittylwrenphotography

    You are making me homesick for Paris!

  46. aj81writing

    Thank you for posting such beautiful pictures. I have been to the Louvre for brief visits 3 or 4 times, but I have completely missed the Napoleon apartments! Must revisit soon. My favorite place in the Louvre is actually the quad with sculptures – it’s so serene.
    Merci!

  47. Best museum in the world by far!!!!

  48. I agree with you on the beautiful sculptures. Every time I visit the Louvre (it’s so big I’ve never had the chance to explore it fully. Somehow I always seem to be short on time. I wonder why) the first place I visit is the sculptures.
    I have never visited the Napoleon apartments. I’m surely going to check them out the next time I go. After seeing such gorgeous pictures, who could resist?
    Ashley

  49. Absolutely stunning photographs! So elegant.

  50. The Louvre looks spectacular. Although I’ve never had the chance to visit myself… would you recommend it this time of year? Or perhaps better in the summer? (Though it’s probably best to stay out-doors then… when in Paris)

  51. Pingback: “When in Paris”… The Louvre « ART | Sculpture Blog

  52. Oo! Ja!…Suured tänud selle ilu eest!

  53. Takes me back 4 years when I visited Louvre. Amazing. Keep up the great work.

  54. Very beautiful! Absolutely stunning photos. Makes me want to go wander around Paris for a few days!

  55. Tres bien! J’adore les photos. Et la libre de Dan Brown. Felicitations sans FP! (From someone who has high school French down with stunning mediocrity!)

  56. Thanks for the gorgeous pics.

  57. Pingback: Thanks Wordpress! – A visit from distance to the Louvre- Paris « Mbconsulting's Blog

  58. I live way too close to the Louvre to never have seen this! Will definitely make it part of the next visit. Thanks for sharing.

  59. When I was in Paris I never went into the Louvre and it may well be one of my biggest regrets, however it gives me reason to go back!
    Great photos =)

  60. wow. you took many dazzling pictures. I never imagined how beautiful it was inside.

  61. What a fantastic post! I LOVE the pictures, they are magnificent. I can not wait to actually visit. Joyeux Noel. :)

  62. wow, nice post…. I am waiting for the next post :D

  63. Pingback: A visit to the Louvre and its Napoleon III apartments (via Ritournelle) « Laura Barbosa's Heart of Art Blog

  64. thinkerrbelle

    Hi! I found your blog from the Freshly Pressed. I really admire that you blogged about the Louvre and France. I’m a high school student, and I’m graduating soon and thinking of becoming a French teacher. I’ve took the language for six years, so I could pretty much read both languages in your posts! I just wanted to say that this was really unique, and I thank you so much for allowing me to finally see what IS part of the Louvre! Merci! : )

  65. Deb

    Just got back from my 4th trip to Paris in 2 years (while living in Germany). Love it more each time as every time I find another corner of Paris to explore and learn about. We always plan a full day for the Louvre with a healthy lunch break outside the museum; but have been at the Louvre every time and the Napoleonic apartments are one of the first places I go. I also ADORE the sculpture gardens. We’ve spent a couple hours in there just taking pictures, sketching, or enjoying the atmosphere. Since we were just there in December, it was SO cool to be in the sculpture gardens at the end of the day. The sun had set outside, so there was no light coming in through the ceiling windows, and they had very low lighting around the sculptures. Magnifique! Made for an amazing end to the day.
    December is definitely not the MOST amazing time to be in Paris and yet, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. The Champs Elysees all lit up for Christmas with the Paris twist on the Christmas Market and the Ferris Wheel lighting up the Concorde. If you can handle a NYC winter, Paris will be a breeze. The gardens aren’t “alive” with flowers, of course; but the City has an amazing feel to it and the fog around the city makes for enchanting photos.

  66. Liza

    I’m always learning so many interesting new things from reading your posts. Rich in content and visuals are breathtaking! Photos are beyond amazing.

  67. Pingback: Days 10-16: Paris | The Conical Glass

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