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Le Louvre (visite extérieure)

Le monde entier connait le Louvre grâce à ses collections, qui en font l’un des plus beaux musées du monde. Mais peu connaissent l’histoire de ce palais, vieux de plus de huit siècles. 

À l’origine forteresse intégrée à l’enceinte que Philippe-Auguste fit construire autour de Paris au 12e siècle, le donjon devint une résidence royale, agrandie au fil des siècles par le pouvoir royal qui souhaitait faire du Louvre le reflet de son autorité. De Charles V à Louis XIV en passant par François 1er, cette visite guidée vous fera découvrir les origines du Louvre dans la somptueuse Cour Carrée, où chaque souverain a laissé, discrètement, sa trace…

louvre cour carree

Lieu de pouvoir, le Louvre regorge d’histoires et d’anecdotes, qui vous seront révélées à travers les monuments qui entourent le Louvre comme l’Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, la Colonnade de Perrault, ou encore l’église Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois. Sans oublier bien évidemment la célèbre Pyramide, qui sera l’occasion d’évoquer les travaux du 20 siècle. Car la République, aussi, a voulu faire du Palais un symbole du pouvoir…

Architecture, histoire, face cachée et anecdotes insolites, le plus beau palais français n’aura plus de secrets pour vous !

Cette visite est uniquement extérieure, et ne comprend pas la découverte des collections du musée. 

Voir le planning de nos visites guidées

Pour une visite privée du Louvre le jour et à l’heure de votre choix (groupes constitués, famille, amis, entreprises…), contactez-nous sur contact@unjourdeplusaparis.com.

The origin of the name Louvre

The whole world knows the Louvre, but few know its history, let alone the origin of its name. To tell the truth, everyone ignores it. Several hypotheses exist as to the origin of the Louvre, but none is unanimous.

– The first hypothesis would come from Latin. The Louvre used to be Lupara in this language, more precisely “Turris lupara”. Off the root word lupanar comes from “lupus”, which means wolf. Well before the museum, there would be here a forest, land of wolves …

– The second hypothesis has Saxon origins, spoken in Northern Gaul as a result of Germanic migrations. In this language, lauer or lower mean watchtower, what was the Louvre in the 9th century during the various seats in Paris by the Vikings.

– The third hypothesis is French, and dates from the origins of the current Louvre, when Philippe-Auguste decided to build a fortress around the capital in 1190. The dungeon located along the Seine, later transformed into a royal residence, is a gigantic work, from the verb ouvrer. The work, or the work as they say today, would have given its name to the castle.

 

History and fun facts about the Panthéon

Emblematic monument of Paris, tomb of distinguished French citizens, the Pantheon had a turbulent history. A rich and unknown story to discover through these 9 stories and anecdotes.

1.

In 1744, Louis XV, traveling to Metz, fell ill. He vowed that if he recovered from his illness he would build a sumptuous monument to of St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris. He cured, and did not forget his wish. The architect Soufflot was chosen to direct the work of the new church.

2.

The work of the Pantheon was financed by an increase on national lottery tickets.

3.

The church was completed in 1790. From 1790 to 1889, date of the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the Pantheon was the highest point of Paris.

4.

When Mirabeau died in April 1791, the Constituent Assembly decided to turn the Sainte-Geneviève church into a grave for the great men of the French Republic. The Pantheon was born.

pantheon fronton

5.

The famous motto of the pediment “Aux grands hommes, la patrie reconnaissante” (“To the great men, the grateful homeland”) is due to Claude-Emmanuel de Pastoret, Paris’ deputy during the Revolution.

6.

Mirabeau was the first to enter the Pantheon, and the first… to come out! Upon discovering his secret epistolary relations with the king, he was removed in 1794, replaced by Marat, removed a few months later once the Terror denied.

7.

Church turned into a Pantheon by the Revolution, Napoleon gave back a part of it to the Catholic religion in 1806, then the monument became again church of St. Genevieve under the Restoration. In 1830, Louis-Philippe made the church a Pantheon again, then Napoleon III decided to give the monument back… to Catholic worship ! 

8.

It was in 1885, on the occasion of the funeral of Victor Hugo, that the Third Republic decided to make the Pantheon to the celebration of the great men of the nation. This function has not moved.

9.

Like the furniture and the pediment, the cross at the top of the monument has been removed each time the church became Pantheon. During the Paris Commune, it was replaced by a French flag, then put back in 1873. When the Third Republic made the monument a Pantheon, the cross was not removed. It is still visible today, last witness of the old church.

croix pantheon

The crazy tale of the colonne Vendôme

Symbols of power in the heart of the capital, the royal squares of Paris have always been politically hijacked. Place Vendôme and its famous column is one of the most famous examples. From the first statue to the current column, what a palaver !

Nowadays known as the Parisian center of jewelery and luxury, Place Vendôme was originally ordered by Louis XIV to be a showcase for the great institutions of the monarchy. The project was finally abandoned, and the land sold to great financiers. In the center, an equestrian statue of Louis XIV recalled the royal predominance. But in 1792, this statue suffered the same fate as all the other statues of the royal squares: it was knocked down.

 In 1810, Napoleon inaugurated on the site of this old statue the current column, dedicated to the victorious soldiers of Austerlitz (1805). 43 meters high, it is inspired by the Trajan column of Rome. More than 1200 cannons taken from the Russians and Austrians were melted to make the bronze plates, while a statue of Napoleon in Marcus Aurelius was at the top.

statue Napolon Marc Aurele

At the fall of the emperor in 1814, the statue was taken down, replaced during the Restoration by a flag with a huge fleur-de-lis. In 1830, the new monarchy, led by Louis-Philippe, decided to replace the royal flag with a tricolor flag. Then, a few years later, a new statue of Napoleon is placed on the top of the Vendôme column. Louis-Philippe, who has always cultivated an image close to revolutionary ideals, wanted to revive the figure of the military hero. Napoleon is no longer represented as a Roman emperor, but dressed as a “little corporal” in a frock coat and hat. This statue will remain 30 years, until Napoleon III, judging it unworthy of his illustrious predecessor, replaced it with … a new statue as a Roman emperor!

In 1871, during the Paris Commune, the symbols of power and imperialism were again very badly seen. The demolition of the monument is voted, and the column knocked down on May 16th.

Colonne-Vendôme-1871-Destruction

After the Commune, The Third Republic rebuilt it. It is the one we can see today. 

colonne vendome

Since then, it has not moved.

Saint-Jean-Bosco Church

In the 20th arrondissement, the church of Saint-Jean-Bosco is one of the most beautiful, and more surprising, churches of the interwar period.

Sixtieth edifice of the “chantiers du Cardinal“, an organization created in 1931 by Cardinal Verdier, archbishop of Paris, whose objective was to build churches in Paris and its suburbs for working and disadvantaged populations, this monument strikes by its originality , the richness of its decors and its excellent preservation. An original discovery for amateurs of contemporary sacred art.

eglise saint jean bosco

Built between 1933 and 1937, the church of Saint-Jean-Bosco is inspired by Notre-Dame du Raincy church, built 10 years ago. The 53-meter-high bell tower gives the building a monumental character and offers a perfect testimony to the artistic and architectural research of Art Deco in the 30’s.

Wall paintings, frescoes, mosaics, stained-glass windows, statues … The interior of the church offers an extraordinary diversity of decor, made by the greatest religious artists of the period (Mauméjean for ornamentation, Gaudin for stained-glass windows…. Do not miss the baptistery and the “baptism of Christ” scene, one of the church’s most successful ensembles, the stained-glass windows, the altar and pulpit.

saint jean bosco eglise chaire saint jean bosco paris

All these elements are perfectly highlighted by the reinforced concrete pillars that separate the decorative elements to make them more visible.

eglise saint jean bosco paris

One of the finest examples of religious art in the 1930s.

Why rue de Rennes begins by number 41 ?

If you are searching in Paris number 1, 5, 12, 20 or even 32 of rue de Rennes, stop now, you will never find it ! Indeed, this street begins by the number… 41.

The creation of the Rue de Rennes was decided at the time of the Haussmann works. The aim was to facilitate the access the the old Montparnasse station, inaugurated in 1852. It is therefore planned to drill a large road that would go from the train station to the Seine.

The first stretch from the train station to rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs is made in 1854, the second to Boulevard Saint-Germain in 1868. It is here that the you can see the n°41 of the street, leading to the church of Saint-Germain-des-Près.

Rue de Rennes en 1877, State Library of Victoria
Rue de Rennes in 1877, State Library of Victoria

Because of the complexity and the cost of the project (it consisted of cutting the Institut de France and the Monnaie de Paris!), the last stretch was never completed. That’s why there is no number before the 41!

 

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church

At the top of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, a few steps from the Pantheon, the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church houses an extraordinary heritage: its rood screen, the last visible in Paris, and the tomb of Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris.

In 510, Clovis built a basilica dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul on the site of the present rue Clovis. His wife and he were buried there, as well as Saint Genevieve. Many religious settled around the church, which became an important abbey in the 12th century.

In order to meet the growing population, a new church was built at the end of the 15th century, adjacent to the abbey but independent of it. It is the current Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. The work began in 1492 and lasted until 1626. That is why you will notice, both inside and outside, an evolution of styles, going from the Gothic to the Renaissance.

L'abbaye Sainte-Genevieve et l'église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

Restored under the Second Empire by Baltard, all the statues and sculptures of the facade date from 1862. 

Inside, the rood screen (tribune that separates the nave from the choir), completed in 1545, is the last visible in Paris.

jube saint etienne du mont

Since 1803, the church contains the shrine of Sainte-Genevieve. The original one, which was in the old church of Sainte-Geneviève (now the Pantheon), was covered with gold, silver, diamonds and precious stones. In 1793, the decoration were melted by the revolutionists, and the remains of the saint burnt on the Place de Greve…

The sarcophagus where she had rested until the 9th century and various relics are now enclosed in the reliquary that you can see in a lateral chapel. 

chasse sainte genevieve

10 interesting facts about the Sainte-Chapelle

Built in the 13th century by King Saint-Louis to house his collection of religious relics, the Sainte-Chapelle is visited for the beauty of its stained glass windows, among the most sumptuous in the world.

1.

King Louis IX (future Saint-Louis) built the Sainte-Chapelle in the heart of his royal palace on the Île de la Cité to house the relics bought to the Emperor Baudouin II of Constantinople, who had pawned these relics to a Venetian bank.

2.

Originally, 22 relics were acquired by Saint-Louis. There are now only three: a fragment of the cross, a nail, and the crown of thorns. They are now part of the Notre-Dame de Paris treasure. The Sainte-Chapelle no longer houses these relics.

3.

The crown of thorns was bought 135,000 livres tournois, about half of the annual income of the royal domain. The construction of the Sainte-Chapelle cost about 40,000 livres tournois, three times less than the crown of thorns !

4.

The Sainte Chapelle is made of two different chapels: the lower chapel, originally dedicated to the the officers, and the upper chapel, dedicated to the king and his family.

Chapelle basse
Chapelle basse

5.

The architect of the Sainte-Chapelle is unknown. 

6.

The upper-chapel is made of 618 m2 of glass. An wonderful combination of lightness and balance.

7.

These chapels were completely restored in the 19th century. The decoration of the upper chapel is based on descriptions and drawings of the original buildings, but the lower chapel was entirely “reinvented” for lack of documentation.

8.

From the altar, Saint-Louis showed the relics to the Parisians every year on Good Friday.

autel sainte chapelle

9.

The 618 m2 of stained glass windows in the upper chapel illustrate biblical scenes from both testaments. They depict 1,130 biblical figures.

10.

The rose window does not date from the 13th century as the stained glass, but from the 15th century. It has 87 petals.

rosace sainte chapelle 

A wooden chalet in the heart of the 19th arrondissement

In the 19th arrondissement, the rue de Meaux hides an amazing construction that has withstood the changes the neighborhood has known since the beginning of the 20th century. In the middle of the modern buildings is a Savoyard chalet, built for the 1867 World’s Fair.

If its history is rather difficult to trace, one thing is certain : it has been built during the 1867 Paris World’s Fair, at the same time as the Buttes-Chaumont park. A very surprising construction, in this street only made of modern buildings and social housing. 

chalet 103 rue de meaux

In 2009, this chalet was threatened by urbanization after an inheritance. A promoter wanted to buy the land to build a new and large building. Fortunately, people in the neighborhood were opposed to the sale and the construction has been protected. Definitely saved from destruction, its balcony has since been renovated and much of its structure repaired.

A curiosity that is now an integral part of the (unusual) Parisian heritage!

 

To discover during your walks in the 19th arrondissement

Le Quartier Latin

Le Quartier Latin est l’un des plus vieux quartiers de Paris, mais aussi celui qui a été le mieux conservé. Source inépuisable d’histoires, d’intrigues et d’évènements, la visite guidée du quartier Latin vous permettra d’appréhender dans sa globalité la beauté d’un quartier pas comme les autres…

Premier quarter habité rive gauche par les Romains, le Quartier Latin garde encore quelques traces de cette époque, à l’image des Arènes de Lutèce, fabuleux patrimoine sauvé de la destruction par Victor Hugo. En montant en direction de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, la visite guidée sera ensuite l’occasion d’évoquer l’Université médiévale, et les célèbres collèges parisiens qui ont attiré les intellectuels du monde entier. Un quartier qui n’a pas échappé non plus aux révoltes de Mai 68, dont vous découvrirez quelques anecdotes lors de cette visite guidée.

facade pantheon paris

Autour du Panthéon sera évoquée l’histoire de ce monument ainsi que la légende de Sainte-Geneviève. Quelques trésors bien cachés, depuis l’église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont jusqu’au vieux mur de l’enceinte Philippe Auguste, vous seront également révélés. La visite se terminera vers les Thermes de Cluny, autre vestige de l’époque Gallo-Romaine, où vous découvrirez de nombreuses anecdotes à travers les ruelles au charme authentique du Quartier Latin. 

rue galande

La visite guidée du Quartier Latin, un parcours sur plusieurs siècles dans l’un des plus beaux quartiers de la capitale, et un regard nouveau sur l’histoire de France. 

Voir le planning de nos visites guidées

Pour une visite privée du Quartier Latin le jour et à l’heure de votre choix (groupes constitués, famille, amis, entreprises…), contactez-nous sur contact@unjourdeplusaparis.com.