The Da Vinci Code in Paris
|The Louvre's pyramid — famously designed by I.M. Pei — is now possibly better known as one of the backdrops from The Da Vinci Code.|
By Gene Openshaw, co-author of many of Rick's travel guidebooks
Dan Brown's novel about a Harvard cryptologist on the hunt for the Holy Grail has become an international bestseller, a pop-culture craze, and a hot topic for conversation. This work of fiction — encrusted with many real and many fictional facts — has sold millions of copies and been translated into 44 languages, flooding bookstores from Paris to Beijing. The movie version (starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou...a.k.a. Amélie ) was filmed in Paris in 2005.
Since most of the novel is set in Paris, Da Vinci Code fans flock to the various sights described in the novel. Several tour companies have even put together special walking tours to satisfy this curiosity. While The Da Vinci Code may be a good read, it's neither accurate as history nor a good travel guide. There just isn't that much to actually see, and Mr. Brown took a lot of creative license in his storytelling. Still, tours do their best to make something of these stops along the Grail trail:
The Louvre's Grand Gallery, near Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks: "Renowned curator, Jacques Sauniere," the book begins, "staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery," fell to the parquet floor, smeared a cryptic clue in his own blood, and died. This starts the hunt, as the protagonist Robert Langdon and police-officer Sophie Neveu follow clues hidden in art, history, and religious lore to solve the murder and, ultimately, find the Holy Grail.
The Louvre's Salle des Etats: Langdon and Neveu find clues in Leonardo's Mona Lisa.
The Louvre Pyramid and Arc du Carrousel: Pursued by the police and fearing wrongful arrest, they escape the Louvre and drive off into the night.
Ritz Hotel on Place Vendôme: Langdon's address in Paris.
St. Sulpice Church: Home to the astrological clock — a line on the floor that calibrates sunbeams with the calendar — that Dan Brown incorrectly calls the "rose line."
Inverted Pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre: The final stop on your quest is a shopping mall. You'll find the Holy Grail (says Brown) embedded in modern concrete under an inverted glass pyramid, just next to Virgin Records.