In your Michelin Guide to Paris you will find an abbreviated plan of the Louvre Palace, which will show you, in a rough way, the successive periods during which this palace was built. However, this plan will only show you what parts were built before Napoleon I; what parts were built during his reign; and what parts were built during the reign of Napoleon III. As this plan does not show you what parts of the palace were built before Napoleon started to renovate it, we will have to look for this information elsewhere.
Although it would be handy to have a plan of the successive additions to the Louvre in front of us during this description of ours, I do not propose to draw you such a plan, except by what I will be able to convey to you in writing. As on previous days, we will start out again from the Place de l’Opera. But as this would be a long walk and we will have to do quite a bit of walking after we get there, we will hail a taxi again and tell the driver to take us to the Place du Carrousel.
If you started your sight-seeing in Paris by taking a number of conducted bus tours, you will probably make your first acquaintance with the outside of the Louvre when your bus stops in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel about ten minutes after you left the Opera. This trip will take you down the Avenue de l’Opera, then through one of the archways in the palace, straight into the Place d Carrousel. You will then already be within the huge court of the Louvre, for Napoleon’s Second Arch of Triumph stands almost in the exact center of this court. By this time you will also most likely have been told that the name Louvre comes from the word louverie, which means, or meant, a hunting lodge for wolf hunters. At least that is the generally accepted explanation of how the Louvre got its name, although lately the idea has also been brought forward that the name might have come from the Norman word lower, meaning a fortified castle. However out of plain cussedness, I am going to stick to the louverie.
In the days when Paris was still a walled city, wolves very often came right up to the city gates, especially during the winter months when they could find nothing to eat. Wolf hunting was, therefore, not only a sport, but pretty well a matter of public safety. What more logical explanation, therefore, than the one which tells us that there used to be a louverie just outside the city gates where the Louvre now stands, and that, as time went on, the name just happened to stick to the general vicinity? And now, let its check our hats and coats, not to go to the Louvre Museum, for I will not take you inside, but to transport ourselves back to the end of the twelfth century and the very beginning of this palace.
When Philippe Auguste built the first city wall around Paris in the year 1190, its western boundary came just about where the Louvre now stands. Since the spot ad jacent to the river was the weakest spot in the defence, a massive donjon was erected there and other fortified buildings soon followed. That, you might say, was the beginning of the Louvre, though nothing of all this except, we are told, some parts of the foundation are still in existence. After that, nothing more was done on this spot for a hundred and sixty years, or until the time of Charles V. As this king lived during a particularly turbulent time in French History, he abandoned the Royal Residence on the Cite in 1360 and started to fit out the Louvre for the first time as a royal residence. Ever since that time the French Kings have lived some distance from the city where, in case of an uprising, there was at least some possibility of escape. But of course, that was still only a beginning.
After the walls of Paris had once more been extended, the Louvre came to stand some distance within the city again. But as there seemed to be no longer the same need for safety as there had been in the time of Charles V, Francis I (1515-1547) had the old fortifications razed and in their place built the first part of the present Louvre. This building, or palace, is the part of the Louvre you will find on the river side of the so-called Cour Carree, at the extreme eastern end of the palace, and is, even today, considered by many people to be the most beautiful of the many buildings that make up the Louvre palace. This building was designed by the architect Pierre Lescot and the sculptures were done by the famous sculptor of the French Renaissance Period, Jean Goujon, about whom you will read a great deal in your travel guides. Unfortunately, the C:oar Carree seems to be the very part of the Louvre that most people seem to miss, for bus tours cannot take you into it, and when you do the palace on your own, you might easily mistake the rather modest archway that leads into it as an official entrance, for not all of the Louvre consists of a museum.
But now, I am getting ahead of my story, and I am also starting at the wrong end, for what I want to do is to lead you down the entire length of this palace. However, before we can do that, we will first have to build the palace, and right now we only have the one building put up by Francis I. As may be expected in a palace that was started almost four hundred fifty years ago, the Louvre seems to have grown in a somewhat haphazard manner, with long stretches of what today is one continuous palace, left out. The next building to be erected after the palace put up by Francis I was the Tuileries Palace put up by Catherine de Medici, about half a mile to the west of the first palace. The Tuileries, which ran across what is now the open end of the Louvre, were started in 1578, but are, of course no longer in existence, having been wrecked during the Commune of 1871. At the same time Catherine built her palace, she also built a long gallery along the river end in order to connect her palace with that of Francis I. However, before this gallery could be completed, Catherine lost interest in her flat-it was a lousy period of history anyway-and started to build herself another one. This gallery was, therefore, not completed until 1595, or six year after Catherine had died, and then by Henry IV. This is the wing which now starts with the Pavillon de Flore at the end of the Tuileries Gardens, and it is also the wing in which the museum is located. During the time of Louis XIV, this wing was used as the royal workshops and it was also used as a residence for the artists and architects who worked for the King. So, up to now, all we have of the Louvre is the palace put up by Francis I, and the Tuileries put up by Catherine de Medici, with the long wing connecting the two forming a sort of rambling palace in the shape of a long “L.”
And now, we have to come back to the Cour Carree again. In 1624 Louis XIII, or maybe it was Cardinal Richelieu, who had a lot to say in those days, built what is known as the Tour de l’Orloge next to the palace of Francis I. This building is the work of the architect Le Mercier and is the building in which you will find the small archway by which one now enters this court from the Cour du Carrousel. At the same time Le Mercier put up this building he also extended the palace put up by Francis I to twice its length and in the same style. But that was as far as it went, so that the Cour Carree, which means the “square court,” was still an open space with houses all around it, and even on the square itself. Then, in 1673, came the two important buildings put up by Louis XIV. These consisted of the building known as the Colonnade of Perrault, which faces the Church of Saint Germain l’ Auxerrois and the building which faces the Rue de Rivoli. The design for this colonnade was originally entrusted to the Italian architect Bernini who designed the famous Bernini Colonnade in front of Saint Peter’s in Rome, but was later entrusted to Glaude ‘Perrault, who was a brother of the Charles Perrault we met in front of the Jeu de Paume yesterday. In addition to being an architect, Claude Perrault was also a physician of note. It was not until then that the Cour Carr6e became a court.
Well, now we are up to the year 1673. The next addition to be made to the Louvre was a comparatively small one, but an important. one just the same, and consisted of the Pavillon de Marsan. This was added to the Rue de Rivoli end of the Tuileries in 1715 by Louis XIV in order to correspond with the Pavillon de Flore on the river end, and that is the reason the two ends of the present Louvre now look alike, though they were built one hundred twenty years apart. And now, we are going to jump just about one hundred thirty-five years ahead to the time of Napoleon I. If you have followed my description so far, which I admit, wasn’t the easiest thing to do without some kind of plan, you might have noticed that the entire stretch between the Pavillon de Marsan and the building put up by Perrault, both of them on the Rue de Rivoli, is still open. But this space was not only open, but the entire area which is now made up of the Cour du Carrousel, the Place du Carrousel and those beautiful formal gardens at the beginning of them was still old Paris, packed with old houses and narrow streets. In other words, if we had come to Paris one hundred sixty years ago, we would have found that old Paris still came right up to the gallery built by Catherine de Medici. Napoleon then decided to have all these houses razed and the north side of the Louvre closed in by another wing. However, he was deposed before this wing got half way to where it was supposed to go, and the rest of it was then completed under Napoleon III some forty years later. Napoleon III also added a number of other buildings to the Louvre, but all of these are inside the main court.
With the completion of the north wing, the Louvre for the first time became a somewhat irregular rectangle, with a huge garden in the middle, and remained so until 1871 when the Commune set the Tuileries afire. The ruins of this palace were not cleared until some twenty years later. However, this was not the first time that the Tuileries were very nearly wrecked. The first time was during the insurrection of 1830, when Charles had to flee to England. But during this revolt, the mob had merely contented itself with throwing the furniture out of the windows, slashing paintings, smashing busts-all except the bust of Monsieur Voltaire for whom they had a great respect and generally looting the place of its finery. Well, 1 guess, we could finish this account of the physical features of the Louvre Palace with a few figures. The Louvre covers an area of forty-five acres, the facade along the Seine is almost half a mile long, and the inside distance between its two end wings measures eight hundred feet. And that, I think, is some palace.
Unbelievable as it may seem, the Louvre at one time came very close to being completely abandoned. During the long interval which elapsed between the death of Louis XIV and the coming of Napoleon it had fallen into such disrepair that theme was even talk of having it dismantled, and it was Napoleon I who saved it. After Louis XIV moved to Versailles, which happened to be his particular hobby, the court moved along with him, and anyone who wanted to could live in the Louvre, rent free, though one had to provide one’s own heat. Even Napoleon at one time lived in the Louvre as a poacher. This palace was occupied by a French King only once more after that. On October 6, 1789, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were brought back from Versailles, the prisoners of the Paris mob, and lodged in three rooms of the Tuileries. They arrived there at 8 P.M. after what must have been a grueling journey. An hour before their arrival, all the ne’er-do-well tenants had been given an hour’s notice to pack up and get out. And after that the King and his family lived in this palace for two weary years, the pawn of a fickle National Assembly who, somehow, could not decide what to do with them. As you may remember, they escaped to Varennes two years later, only to be apprehended and brought back to Paris. They were then lodged in the Temple Prison-now no longer in existence, for it was ordered to be torn down by Napoleon-from which Louis ultimately went to the guillotine, MarieAntoinette to the Conciergerie and the little Dauphin to a shoemaker and his wife who were to act as his foster parents.
And now, that I have told you something about how this palace came about, let us take a little stroll down the middle of its court and see what it looks like to the casual tourist. If we had continued toward the Louvre as we came out of the Tuileries Gardem yesterdaysomething we could have done very easily if I had not thought that you might be a little tired we would have walked right straight through the ghost of the former Tuileries Palace. As we walk toward the east side of the palace, leaving the Pavillon de Marsan on our left and the Pavillon de Flore on our right, we will be walking right up to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. We are now in another huge garden, planted with formal flower beds this time, and those statues of the female form again. The area around the arch is known as the Place du Carrousel, and the two halves of the gardens in front of it are known as the parterres. But now, I shall first have to tell you something about this arch.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was ordered to be erected by Napoleon in 1806 and again to commemorate his victories at Austerlitz. Perhaps you may remem ber from your history how Napoleon went among his troops the night before this battle something he very often did and how his soldiers, who were always fanatically devoted to him, made torches out of their bivouac straw and lit them in his honor. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in history, the Allied Generals, both Russians and Austrians, interpreted these fires as meaning that Napoleon had found their position too strong and was breaking camp. As a result of this beautiful miscal culation, sixty-five thousand Frenchmen beat the stuffing out of eighty thousand Russians and Austrians the next day.
This arch is not nearly as large as the arch on the Etoile, but very beautiful just the same, and it also fits its situation. Unlike the larger arch it took only two years to build. As you may also remember when Napoleon handed Venice over to Austria in 1805, one of the spoils he brought back with him were the four bronze horses which stand above the portals of Saint Mark’s. These he had later placed on top of this arch. However, after Napoleon’s final downfall, France was generous enough to give them back to Venice. Ironically enough, the decorations you see on top of this arch now were placed there by Louis XVIIl to commemorate the triumph of the Restoration-in other words, Napoleon’s downfall. When you get to this arch and look through the center archway there are three on this one, one large one and two smaller ones toward the Champs-Elysees, you can see in perfect alignment with it, Napoleon’s other arch of triumph on the Etoile, with the obelisk of Luxor on the Place de la Concorde in the exact center of it. This makes for an absolutely unobstructed view of nearly two miles. But of course, this view was only made possible after the Tuileries had been dismantled.
After we have passed the Place du Carrousel, but still some distance away, the additions made to the Louvre by Napoleon III narrow down the court to a distance of about four hundred feet. This still pretty large rectangular court is known as the Cour du Carrousel, and it is on the river side of this court that the entrance to the Louvre Museum is located. As we continue down this court we will come first to the monument of the French patriot Gambetta (1838-1882) and then, next to it, the monument of another French patriot, Lafayette, about whom, I am sure, I will not have to tell you anything. An inscription in English on the base of this monument will tell you that it was donated to France by the school children of the United States in appreciation of his services to our country. Both of these monuments stand in a little fenced in park of their own. Just behind Lafayette’s monument is the little archway that will lead us into the Cour Carree and the palaces put up by Francis I and Louis XIV.
After we have crossed this court we can leave both the C:our Carr6e and the Louvre by another archway, which will lead us into the Rue du Louvre. In addition to these two archways there are two other archways leading into this court, and all four of them are reserved for the use of pedestrians only. The one on the north will lead its into the Rue de Rivoli, and the one on the south into the Quai du Louvre and the Pont des Arts. These two archways and the five large archways which lead into and out of the Place du Carrousel are the only two passages which go straight through the Louvre Palace. By the time we have arrived at the Rue du Louvre, we will have walked the distance of ten city blocks since we entered these grounds, and all this time the two wings of the Louvre have been on each side of us. As you will notice by consulting your map, so far we have passed three bridges. The first one was the Pont Royal at the Tuileries end; the second one was the Pont du Carrousel over which the traffic that comes down the Rue de I’Oprsra passes after it has crossed the palace grounds; and the third one was the Pont des Arts, I just mentioned. And if we should walk just a little farther down the quai we would come to the Pont-Neuf, the oldest and the best known bridge in Paris.
This just about concludes our history of the Louvre Palace, except that we are now right in front of another interesting building and, as we do not intend to come back to this vicinity again, I shall have to tell you just a little about it. This building is the venerable old church of Saint-Germain-l’ Auxerrois, which dates from the beginning of the Thirteenth Century, though its Romanesque steeple is said to go back even farther than that. When the French Kings lived in the Louvre, this was, no doubt, the church where they went to worship, just as Sainte Chapelle was their church when they still lived on the Cite. As you may remember, it was from the tower of this church (you needn’t look for it because it is at the rear of the church and so inconspicuous that you can’t even see it) that the tocsin was sounded to signal the beginning of Saint Bartholomew’s night, on August 24, 1572. Your guide book might also tell you that it was from a window of the palace opposite to this church that Catherine de Medici waved a handkerchief to mark the start of this massacre. However, you need not scan the facade of this palace to see what window that might have been. Wave, she no doubt did, but it wasn’t from any of the windows you see on this palace, which, as I already pointed out to you, wasn’t built until about a hundred years later.
Besides this dim association with Saint Bartholomew’s night, this church is principally noted for the fact that many of the artists who formerly lived in the Louvre are buried here. Among these are the painters Boucher he who gave us all those charming nudes as also Natier and Chardin. Also the architects Soufllot, the man who built the Pantheon, and Gabriel, the man who built the two Gabriel Palaces. As we make our way toward the Rue de Rivoli, which is here only a short distance away, we will see another building and a tower, this time a Gothic one. This is the Ma,irie or the Town Hall of the First Arrondissement. The Town Hall was built by Hittdorf in 1859 after Baron Haussmann had cleared the area of its old houses, and the tower was added by Ballu a year later. Tourists who get a glimpse of this tower as their sight seeing bus whisks them down the Quai du Louvre to take them over the Pont-Neuf, sometimes mistake it for the Tour Saint Jacques. But just remember that the famous Tour Saint Jacqiies is still some distance down the quais.
When we are at this Nlairie, we will be only a short distance from the Palais-Royal, back on the Avenue de L`Opera. But about that I will tell you tomorrow.