This is the main courtyard of the Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre), one of the world’s largest and best-known museums of fine art.
In the foreground is the famous glass Pyramide, a new main entrance to the museum designed by the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei. It celebrated its tenth birthday in 1999. The Pyramide generated a great deal of controversy before it was built, but it has now come to be accepted as part of the Louvre complex. I have to admit that I never expected it to fit in so well, but I like it now that it is there (but I like Pei’s work generally).
Behind the Pyramide is the Richelieu wing of the museum. The Louvre was once a royal palace before becoming a museum, and in fact until very recently some parts of the Louvre were still used for purposes other than the museum, including this wing, which housed government offices (the Ministry of Finance). A few years ago, the Ministry of Finance moved to a brand new palace (!) near the Gare de Lyon, and the Richelieu wing of the Louvre palace was remodeled into an expansion of the museum. This has allowed the museum to display many works of art (sculpture, for example) for which there had previously been no room. Even so, the museum still has 75,000 paintings in storage.
The main entrance of the museum is below street level and beneath the Pyramide. West of the Pyramide (to the left in the photograph), and entirely underground, are a complete shopping center and a number of large auditoriums. The latter are now used most notably for the showing of new collections by leading fashion designers. The shopping center includes a nice little “food court” with a good little Chinese restaurant (among about a dozen others of all types). It also includes the Pyramide Inversée (“upside-down pyramid”), an inverted and smaller version of the Pyramide, with its apex suspended a metre or so above the floor and its base level with the street above.
The tiny arch just visible on the left, partially obscured by a fountain in the foreground, is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, a kind of miniature version of the large Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées. The two arches look alike, although they are very different in size, and they are aligned with one another. You can see the larger arch in my pictures of the Champs-Élysées.
I also have a picture of the Louvre at night, from a different angle, if you are interested.
Louvre is pronounced /luvʁ/ in modern French. The name doesn't mean anything today, but it is probably derived from lupara, which meant "wolf house" back in the days of the French king Philip Augustus (twelfth century AD). It probably referred to a kennel at which dogs trained for the hunting of wolves were kept, presumably located near the spot where Philip constructed the castle that
Click directly on the photo to see a larger version (twice this size). Photographed on April 10, 1999.
Additional Photographs of the Louvre