Louvre Museum Tour for Shopoholics
Metro: Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre
Time needed: 2 hours.
Highlights: See the Louvre from its perspective as a royal palace. Extravagant rooms for royalty and exquisite royal gems.
1. Louvre and High Fashion - The Louvre was built as a palace for kings, and as such it became a mecca for Parisian high fashion in the 18th century.
It is no coincidence that the couture shopping district in Paris, the streets around Rue St. Honoré, are a short walk from the Louvre. In the days of the Sun King, Louis XIV, the "fashionionistas" of their day strutted their stuff up and down the halls of the Palais-Royal. The couture business was born to clothe the aristocracy for the constant balls and dinners that Louis XIV ordered to distract the aristocracy from the king's policy decisions. Even today, frequent fashion shows occur in the Louvre's Carrousel.
When you walk through the Louvre immense halls and up the large marble staircases, it is hard to imagine that this was once a working palace.
2. Emperor Apartments - Grab a map when you enter and for a breathtaking view of how the Parisian elite lived, visit Napoleon III's apartments (rooms 82-96 - first floor) Richelieu wing. The gilded furniture, large crystal chandeliers, ceilings and walls painted by famous artists of the time will leave you awestruck.
3. Royal Jewels - Follow up by walking into the Galerie d' Apollon - an over-the-top opulent hall designed to showcase the French crown jewels. Oogle the crown of Louis XV, which contains no fewer than 282 diamonds and 64 other precious stones, and the Regent diamond, a 140 carat diamond, bought by the French in 1717, and considered to be the world's most beautiful diamond. This room gives real meaning to the tongue-in-cheek Mel Brooks quote "It's good to be the king."
4. Sculpture and Cocktails - Finish your tour, by viewing the Louvre's remarkable collection of French sculpture, with a glass of champagne in hand, from inside the Louvre's café Marly. The view into the Louvre from the café Marly is exceptional at night when the sculptures are lit and the Louvre is deserted. It feels like a "sneak peek" into the palace. Open daily 8:00am-2:00am.
5. Shopping - If after viewing all these luxurious items, you are itching to shop, exit the Louvre through the Louvre Carrousel. The Carrousel is an underground shopping mall that is connected to the museum, and contains a Virgin megastore, Sephora, Espirit and numerous other shopping options.
Author: Cheryl Montgomery