The “Concorde” square is majestic ,with its egyptian obelisk in the middle, the 2 beautiful classical monuments , Hotel Crillon and Ministry of the Navy, at one end, the gardens of The Champs Elysées and the gardens of the Tuileries on both sides, and at the other end, the Seine river. When you stand at the center of the square, you get a beautiful perspective on 2 monuments looking like 2 greek temples, the House of Representatives across the river and the church “la Madeleine” at the end of rue Royale. It was there during the 1789 revolution that King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, as well as thousands of aristocrats or opponents , were beheaded.
Taking a walk through the “Tuileries” gardens, will take us to the “Louvre”.
The queen mother Catherine of Medicis, did not like the Louvre and asked in 1564 the architect Philippe Delorme, to build for her a new palace, connected to the Louvre by a gallery along the river but she died before it was finished and Henri IV took over and the works were completed. Until Louis XIV decided, for political reasons, to leave Paris and go to Versailles, it was the residence of the kings of France. During the 1789 revolution , the royal family was brought back to the Tuileries and in the 19th century, the Bonaparte emperors and the Bourbon kings lived there. During the “bloody week” in may 1871 it was set to fire and destroyed.
Fortunately enough, the Louvre is still there , the largest royal palace in the world, now a museum which is universally known.
The outside visit is very interesting because it’s a testimony of a very rich history, written in the impressive architecture. The entrance to the museum is now through the glass pyramid designed by Pei. The excavation work necessary to build the pyramid and the shopping complex underneath allowed to show the foundations of the old castle built by Philippe Auguste to protect the palace of the City.
The full visit of the museum requires a time most tourists do not have. They usually focus on the “Joconde” by Leonardo da Vinci. The collections are so important and rich that I would advise to select what you are interested in, paintings sculptures, furniture, artifacts, which century,which country, depending on the time you have.
A short walk from the Louvre, is the Opera house, built from 1860 to1875 by the architect Charles Garnier, in the style called Napoleon III.It became the heart of the theater district along the “Grands Boulevards”, thanks to the huge urban work conceived by Baron Haussmann.
It’s an impressive monument, both outside and inside, with its grand staircase and colorful marble decoration.