The Louvre museum in Paris is one of the most famous museum with several millions visitors every year. But the museum has a problem: it is big, so big that it is probably impossible to visit it entirely in one day. How could anyone see the 35 000 objects exposed over 4 floors, 3 wings and 60 thousands square meters (650 thousands square feet).
This means that visitors have to skip some things. Many like to focus on one particular wing or maybe two. Some only check the famous Mona Lisa and other paintings from Italian masters while others are more attracted to the objects from Ancient Egypt.
And then, there is this one modest room that not so many people talk about and that many people skip. Visitors generally don’t even know of its existence. And yet this room is one of my favorite (and I have been many times to this museum, having lived in Paris 10 years and being a museum fan).
This room is the “Gallerie d’Apollon”, or the Apollo Gallery.
The Apollo Gallery, public domain picture
It is a beautiful room which contains paintings (even on the ceiling), sculptures and tapestries. It is spacious and bright and was renovated recently (2001-2004). It can also be noted that it was the source of inspiration for other famous galleries like the Hall of Mirrors of the palace of Versailles.
And I may surprise you by saying that it is nothing of all this that attracts me to this room. Paintings, sculptures, tapestries… the Louvre is full of those. No, what makes this gallery so particular is its content, the objects exposed there. Mind to give it a guess?
The Apollo gallery is where many items from the treasury of the French monarchy are displayed. You will find the coronation crown of Louis XV, the crown and pearl tiara of Empress Eugenie, the sapphire set (tiara, necklace, earrings , brooches) of Queen Hortense and Queen Marie-Amelie, etc…
For diamond lovers (I am one), this is also the place to go. Not less than three famous diamonds are exposed there:
the “Regent” diamond: 140 carats, with a lightly blue color (crown of Louis XV)
the “Sancy” diamond (not to be mistaken with the “Beau Sancy”): 55 carats, with pale yellow color.
the “Hortensia” diamond: 20 carats, with a peach color.
The “Regent” Diamond (but it looks better with color and in real life), public domain picture
You can get a small preview of this gallery online but really, this place is worth a “real-life” visit. So if you visit the Louvre one day, make sure to visit this place. It could even be one of the main points of the visit (the Apollo Gallery + Mona Lisa, for example).
And if you are interested in crown jewels in general, here is a quick summary of the other ones I have seen in Europe:
the crown jewels of the British monarchy are displayed at the Tower of London
the Swedish crown jewels are available at the Royal Palace (Stockholm) downstairs
the Norwegian “kronregaliene” are exposed in a building next to the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim (which old name was Nidaros), where the kings were crowned