This picture was taken in the courtyard of the Louvre. I estimate that this shot shows perhaps only 10% of the total building. It is the largest museum in the world. You could take our rightly renowned Chicago Art Institute and plop it down in a corner of the Louvre. In the 2-3 hours I spent there, I saw only a tiny fraction of the collection. I did see both the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, and they were spectacular. The Louvre was originally a palace where the kings lived, until the frequent uprisings of the local peasants drove them away to a better neighborhood in the suburbs, where they built an even nicer home for themselves at Versailles. Now that's a home improvement project!
I arrived at the Louvre more than an hour before I was supposed to meet the rest of our group, so I spent the time exploring the gardens west of the museum. This picture was taken in Jardin des Tuileries. It's a pretty bed of flowers, with statues visible through the flowers and one wing of the Louvre visible in the background.
One of the many statues in the Tuileries. I think this one is exquisite. It's Theseus Slaying the Minotaur, created by Etienne Jules Ramey in 1821. I like how it is backed by the tree and clouds in this photograph.
The Jardin du Carrousel, immediately adjacent to the Louvre. This formal garden contains statues and geometrically arranged hedges. Again, the Louvre is in the background.
The Arc du Carrousel. This monument looks like a smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe. It was built by Napoleon. The four bronze horses on top were originally looted from Venice by Napoleon, then returned to their rightful owners when he was defeated. An artist was commissioned to make these replacements, and a goddess in a chariot was added to symbolize the restoration of the monarchy. At lunch one day, I tried to learn how to pronounce "carrousel" properly from a young French graduate student at the Sorbonne, but I never was able to get it right.