Wow. What a day this was.
It was our last day on Rive Gauche, and the Army Museum was the last museum on my must-visit list on that bank.
Many of you probably know that a number of very cool things fall under the umbrella term “Army Museum.” The museum is in fact housed in the École Militaire, so the walk from the outer entrance to the ticket line is like a whole museum trip in itself. Cannons, beautiful architecture, minutes from Champs de Mars and the Tour Eiffel…pretty much the perfect school, eh? Except for all the militarism and stuff maybe.
Once one finally winds through the hallways once tread by that one guy with that one tomb somewhere around there, a relatively cheap (€9.50 for the whole museum) ticket gets you through the checkpoints to yet more halls, except these are filled with weapons and armor of old. I didn’t take any pictures because it was pretty dimly lit, so all I have to say is: “Hey, humanity. 100% tone it down with the war and stuff.”
Weapons back then looked as much like works of art as weapons, with nearly as much variety and detail.
That was all the permanent exhibits. The current temporary exhibit, for the anniversaries of WWI and D Day, is a chronological walk through the late 1800s to just after WWII. I won’t bother writing a bunch of heavy stuff about the horrors of war or the almost odd mix of new technology and old tactics of WWI or any of that—it’d be as depressing for me as for you—but I’ve always been interested in 20th century military history, so the exhibit was interesting to me.
I took a little break to get some fresh air, then dove back in to Napoleon’s Tomb. Marble, gold, rich woods, and more marble. Not enough marble in modern architecture, I say. The one thing I would do differently, though, is to fill the space around the coffin with water, and maybe some sculptures/fountains too. But really, just the ceiling(s?) alone are a sight to behold.
After I felt sufficiently humbled and insignificant before the grandeur of Napoléon, I became hungry. The Army Museum ended up taking less time than I expected, so after a leisurely walk East, with a detour through the Îles for yet more Berthillon (strawberry) and a sandwich from Boulangerie St. Louis, I went to the Louvre.
Le Louvre. Now THAT’S a museum! Man! And people used to live there, too! If you walk too fast and see too much, it could almost stupefy one.
It took me a while to get my bearings while winding through the wings with room after room where the artistry of the floors and ceilings is as much an exhibit as the statues and all that arranged around. I got a little turned around in the Louis XV/XVI-era decor area until I refocused and returned to the main entrance area under the pyramid. After hydrating, the sign for Egyptian antiquities beckoned me to the Sully wing.
Beautiful, beautiful things. The Ancient Egyptian aesthetic is one of my favorite things in the world.
Underneath the Louvre is the original Louvre, a castle barely one quarter the size of the Grand Palais alone. My parents have told me many times the story of their visit to the Louvre in the late 80s when they were still excavating the towers. My dad apparently jumped the rope to touch the face of one of the towers. I did the same, but I had to settle for leaning over the railing due to the presence of Louvre staff. It’s a magical feeling, to touch something like that. There are also various outcroppings of the castle structure along the hallways to and from the main area and a couple more rooms where the walls themselves are the walls of the original castle, but those don’t yield the same satisfaction.
I should mention that perhaps the most surprising part of my visit was the security line that took all of two minutes, and the free entry for anyone under 26 years old. Or the two most surprising parts or whatever. Wednesday evening is the time to go to the Louvre, apparently.
I left the Louvre shortly after the first closing announcement and fixed myself a late dinner of an omelette du jambon et fromage.