After the Eiffel Tower, Carter's major objective was to visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa. He wanted to observe the "most famous painting in the world" up close. Seeing anything up close proved to be a great challenge, however, as all of the major sites in Paris were massively crowded with tourists. While this was annoying because we had to endure long wait times, jostling and pushing, and other rude behavior, it is nice to know that people are interested in art, architecture, and history. Or, they just crave photo ops with famous objects.
The line into the Louvre stretched from the pyramid all the way back to the main building. We estimated that it would take around an hour, but the line was a quick 30 minutes. Once inside, we headed toward Carter's main target. We passed Winged Victory (below) and followed the crowds.
The Mona Lisa was protected by a couple of layers of treated glass (to save it from flash photography, a practice specifically prohibited, but something we witnessed regularly). Unfortunately, the 20 foot perimeter and crowds made it challenging, but we escorted Carter to the rope line so he could get a close view.
After the Mona Lisa, we explored several galleries. Some were closed for construction (such as Islamic Art) and some objects were being restored.
We found the Venus de Milo and her admirers - another impressive crowd, but not quite as large as the group around the Mona Lisa.
Erik was especially interested in viewing the Code of Hammurabi - the first recorded laws. He encountered them way back in his high school days and mentions them in his courses on political institutions.
The whole section on Mesopotamian art and culture was fascinating (and relatively free of visitors). We continued to explore and were overwhelmed by the number of galleries and familiar objects. One painting that caught Erik's eye was the "Raft of the Medusa" which served as an album cover by the Pogues many years ago.
We spent several hours in the Louvre, but only hit a few of the highlights. Carter was incredibly patient and also truly interested in much of the art. He gazed at the Mona Lisa for five minutes, and also loved four paintings of the seasons depicted as human faces (with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and a tree substituting for flesh and bones). Our Louvre visit convinced us that someday we'll have to return to Paris.