Old and new at the Louvre are both on a grand scale. The pyramid over the main entrance dwarfs the people milling round beneath it and the figures in the long queue snaking round the edge of the courtyard.
At the eastern end of the museum there’s another grand open space. This view, over the rim of an old well, is just a quarter of the Cour Carrée. Despite its vast scale this stone-paved courtyard feels remarkably welcoming. The enclosing buildings shut out the sound of surrounding roads and give shelter from the wind. The south facing benches, with their back to a warm, stone wall, are comfortable on a sunny spring day while in summer the north facing side offers a retreat from the heat.
Seen at a distance the buildings round the Cour Carrée and the stone paving underfoot are restful on the eye. Looking closer there’s interest to be found in the carved details of the buildings and the natural variation of the stone. Unlike the main courtyard round the pyramid, this space is never crowded, even in summer. It’s a surprising, quiet retreat on a grand scale.