Date: Sunday, August 17, 1958
My last day in Paris started out with mass at Notre Dame – very impressed with the organ music and singing! After buying four medals ($2.86), Judy H. and I set out in our heels for a walk along the Seine to the Louvre. 50 million French-men tried to pick us up, but with our noses in the air and aching feet we kept stumbling merrily along. Bought a few post cards on the Left-Bank and finally found the Louvre after asking a French Gendarme – “Ou est la Louvre, si vous plait”.
First went down to have a look at Venus de Milo – didn’t see anything so wonderful about her – thought she was rather fat in fact! Then climbed 30 thousand stairs to look at Mona Lisa. She really looked to me as if she was keeping a big secret! Took a taxi to a place near the Follies for lunch and then attended the afternoon performance – imagine going to the Follies on Sunday afternoon! It was really wonderful – beautiful costumes, settings, and dances!
After that we went to some hotel for our Fare-well Dinner ($2.35, including big tip). Had all the wine we wanted to drink so everyone really got high! We sang, played do you remember and first impressions! Also had pictures taken and then rode home in a taxi singing at the tops of our lungs. Judy H., Patty, Marge, and I strolled around the streets for a while and then back still high.
The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums with over 70,000 pieces of art. The collection started in the 16th century as the private collection of King Francis I. Subsequent kings added to the royal collection over the years. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the Louvre became a national museum and opened to the public.
Some pieces in the museum have had a complicated and controversial history. The collection included work seized under Napoleon, and later by the Nazis during World War II. In both cases, efforts were made to return the work to its original owners.
The museum resides in the Louvre Palace, which originally served as a fortress in the late 12th century under King Philip II. The fortress was demolished the late 15th century to make way for the royal residence of King Francis I. Renovations on the palace continued into the 19th century.
In the early 1980’s, French President François Mitterrand proposed major renovations to the Louvre. One of the additions included a steel and glass pyramid designed by American architect I.M. Pei. The structure was completed in 1989 and serves as the museum’s main entrance.