Roman France

Busted in the Louvre

Like many of the major museums in Europe, the Louvre has so many treasures that some, like these Roman busts, might escape attention.

You’ve just finished elbowing your way to the front of the crowd to get a glimpse of the smaller-than-you-expected Mona Lisa in a side room. Now you’re wandering down the length of the Italian Painting Gallery jam-packed with Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces. How are you expected to even see the Roman marble busts sitting among short columns in niches along the walls?

But there they are – Hadrian, Trajan and others – in all their glory. How many people actually notice them?

Here are just a few of the busts on display:

Young Marcus Aurelius
Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius
Woman from the time of Trajan

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Looking for Lutetia – Roman Paris

It is not easy finding the footprints of the Roman city of Lutetia beneath a Paris that is jam-packed with Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance and modern architecture. And with only five days to take in just some of what Paris has to offer, I was short of time to find them. But Fortuna smiled on me and I discovered three main Roman sites within a few blocks of my hotel in the Latin Quarter.

Plan of Roman Lutetia from Crypte Archeologique

Crypte Archeologique du Parvis de Notre Dame: Beneath the cathedral on Île de la Cité lies this museum displaying recent archaeological finds of early Paris, including some of the Roman ramparts. I quickly abandoned the Sunday morning crush of Notre Dame above and was rewarded with a quiet, modern museum and an excellent exhibit below.

Roman Rampart of Lutetia

Thermes de Cluny: Across a small square from the Sorbonne, the walls of the Roman baths survive in the Museum of the Middle Ages, Musée Cluny. They were used as part of the structure housing the Cluny Abbots built in the thirteenth century. There are also statues and mosaics from the baths on display here.

Roman Baths in Musee Cluny

Les Arènes de Lutèce: This amphitheatre dating from the 1st century once held 15,000 spectators. Today it is situated in a park tucked in a side street off Rue Monge and is again a site for entertainment but on a much smaller scale.

Roman Amphitheatre in Paris

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