Traveling in the City of Light, you can’t help but notice the wide variation in the guilded sculptures adorning the Seine River bridges, light stanchions, and 16th and 17th century buildings. On a sunny day, you might need sunglasses. After visiting Paris, I can fully appreciate the effect of gilding. The French take special care of their monuments and their past. Following below is my evidence supporting that statement.
This palace seems to be dipped in gold decoration, which enhances the front entrance street appeal. It’s the approach that humbles you. The cobblestones were set in place in such a way as to slow down the horse-drawn carriages and those walking so that they could properly approach the palace of the king. At least, that’s what I heard. . .
Built to house 3000+ nobles, their families and caretakers, including the king and his retinue, Versailles was like a small village for Louis’ court. Statuary, fountains and gardens in the back were part of the entertainment for the court and allowed the king to keep watch on them all. The Hall of Mirrors, where you can see forever, might have served the same purpose.
Down side: When we were at Versailles, there was a jarring juxtaposition of modern art being integrated into the French interiors. It didn’t work. Even some of the tour guides admitted that the effect was garish. Exhibitions of this type are allowed to provide additional funds for expert restoration and repair, and general trust expenses.
The Louvre Museum
This beautiful museum was a palace first, before it became an art museum and it shows in the details. It’s also shown in the basement where the foundations of the original Louvre palace can be seen, with a model of the medieval palace.
Paintings of all sizes, sculpture, historical artifacts, and a trove of antiquity collections surround you. Various coloured marbles, painting and gilt cover the walls and ceilings. What a feast for the eyes and a photographer's dream - you can take photos in this museum. We saw Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and Mona Lisa before we started sinking into Antiquity.
Although we spent nearly five hours meandering through the exhibitions, we didn’t see all that we wanted to see. We did our own walking tour after buying their floor map of the exhibits. It's difficult to get a close look at the art in a tour group. This is important if you want photos like we did. I recommend plotting your own path through this art heaven.
Bridges (Ponts), Lampposts and Fountain Embellishments
Perhaps the gilding lends a romantic aura on these places, favourites of lovers sharing a kiss. Certain bridges, like the Pont D’Iena by the Eiffel Tower, have more complex architectural designs which offer gilding opportunities. History can be preserved, and these places prove it.
The name of this opera house refers to the architect who designed the building. It was the setting for the Phantom of the Opera and still survives in grand style. Gilded sculpture tops the roof and highlights the busts of musicians on the front of the building.
We found out - too late - that there are tours of this building when the opera isn’t performing. Photo detail in upper right on this post. There are images available on the Paris tour sites if you're interested.
Joan D’Arc, on the Rue de Rivoli
This statue of Joan stands in front of the Hotel Regina, just down from the Louvre Museum on the Rue de Rivoli. She has a majestic presence over the traffic which faces her on the opposite side of the street. Gilded from head to toe, she and the horse remind us of another era in the French past. I like this commanding sculpture of the French heroine.
A Gold Mime, on the Pont D’Iena (near the Eiffel Tower)
Sitting on the Pont D’Iena, we saw the golden mime, waiting for someone or something. He wouldn’t say.
To ‘gild the lily’ is to try and improve on what is already beautiful. Paris seems to have it right.
All the photos taken Autumn 2010 in Paris by DG Hudson.
Do you notice architecture? Any favourite buildings?