gare du nord...

gare du nord

Off to London on a 300 km/h EuroStar 373, which is the British equivalent of the French TGV. The EuroStar trains, which pass under the English Channel via the Channel Tunnel (and which made news headlines last year for breaking down in said tunnel), are spacious, quiet, smooth and comfortable. They are nothing like any train we have in Australia and make a joke of our rail "network". In the time it takes to travel from here to Brisbane with our rail system, you can use the EuroStar to travel from Paris to London and back.

Above, morning light and the soft glow from lamps on the giant cast iron pillars illuminate the arrival hall of the famous Gare du Nord, the third-busiest train station in the world with 180 million passengers annually.

Because the UK isn't part of the Chengen countries, when boarding the EuroStar you pass through security, customs and passport control in both directions. It's very much like an international flight, though with the advantages of greater comfort, a 96% on-time performance and faster boarding process. Plus, there's a fantastic view.

nike on daru...

nike on daru

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, another of the great works on display, particularly triumphant at the top of the impressive Daru staircase.


Next stop: London.

richelieu waiting...

richelieu waiting

Outside Richelieu, one of the 14 pavilions of the Louvre.

blue stars and floating glass...

blue stars

When I said that the Louvre was a work of art in its own right, I really did mean it. Being formerly a fortress and palace, it's not a building that simply appeared one day as a purpose-built museum or gallery. Often the trend of modern gallery building has been to design the interior as blandly as possible to provide a "neutral space" in which to exhibit art, so that each work stands on its own without the building interfering. That, in my opinion, is a boring approach. The Louvre really appeals to me because it is not like that; it expresses character and "feels right" for the works displayed within it. Far from interfering, its classical style only adds in a positive way. You arrive and it aligns you.

floating glass

Given this, it may seem unusual that the renovations included such a radical visual departure in the form of the glass and steel pyramids. These have been criticised by some, but they don't feel out of place at all to me. They are both visible and invisible, the minimalist surfaces making their presence known while simultaneously being swallowed by the intricacy of the surrounding architecture.