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
Dan Brown's novel about a Harvard cryptologist on the hunt for the Holy Grail was an international bestseller, a pop-culture craze, and a hot conversation topic. This work of fiction — encrusted with real and invented historical information — 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 Tautou, a.k.a. Amélie) was filmed in Paris.
Since most of the book (and movie) is set in Paris, Da Vinci Code fans flock to the various sights described in the novel. You can even sign up for a special walking tour to satisfy this curiosity. While The Da Vinci Code may be a good read, it's not accurate either as history or a good travel guide — there just isn't that much to see. 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." He then falls to the parquet floor, smears a cryptic clue in his own blood, and dies. This starts the hunt, as 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.
The Ritz Hôtel 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 — Dan Brown incorrectly calls this 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.