Slipping out of the culturally rich Parisian streets to sample ancient Egypt might not seem like the obvious ‘to do’, but as I discover this endlessly astonishing collection is well worth a look. Originally sold to the French king around 1826, by Jean-François Champollion, a master of ancient language, the collection grew from around 9000 pieces, and still grows today.
A blur of bikes – a living train of spokes and colour – hurtles past me. The crowd cheers as the entourage of determined cyclists snake around the Arc de Triumph just as quickly as they appeared. A fantastic sight. On a stiflingly hot July Parisian summer’s day, however, further stifled by hordes of gatherers for the Tour de France, I decide to take time out.
A long and frustrating diversion means I have to take the most indirect route to the Louvre possible. Squeezing past a plethora of bright yellow Tour de France t-shirts and hat stalls, and bedazzled tourists, I eventually turn through an arch into the courtyard of the Louvre.
The queue circles around the elegant glass pyramid, and eventually I am in, and navigating my way to the Egyptian exhibits. I hadn’t anticipated the scale of the Louvre – really I hadn’t – and its cavernous wonders, spaces and corridors seem to have more intricacy than the human mind; at least more than the mind could ever possibly fully absorb.
Smaller artefacts appear around every corner, including small carved boats. I’m astonished at the level of detail retained after all this time.
Just when I think that these discoveries are over, I enter a huge room lined with giant, hieroglyphic columns and imposing statues.
I’m particularly drawn to a hieroglyphic arch. The Egyptians seemed to have held most of their importance on portals and transcendence.
Speaking of transcendence I finish off in the afterlife section, though a little eerie, giving a sense of the scale of belief they had in the ‘other’ world. A mock-up of a mummy reveals the end result of the preparation for the afterlife.