Fortunately Brian and I are on the same time schedule. We’re both early risers and like to get going in the morning. Today is Saturday and the Louvre is on the menu. If we want to beat at least some of the crowds we want to be there when it opens at 9. We already have our tickets so we just have to find the Richelieu entrance to avoid the ticket line at the Pyramid. Buying a ticket in advance on the website is easy and saves so much aggravation, or as in in our case, buy a museum pass before leaving home. I bought ours through Rail Europe and they were delivered by UPS right to my door (as well as our metro passes and my France rail pass and tickets for the TGV).
We’re on the road a little after 8 and Paris is quiet, there’s little traffic and the few people on the streets are either early dog walkers or those heading to jobs requiring an early start. As we head along the Seine towards the Louvre we take a few detours off the path to take a picture or two. One instance was in front of the Palais Royal, as I was about to take a picture of Brian a young man comes by with his dog and insists Brian needs a prop for the picture. So Brian, a dog lover himself, has a picture in front of the Palais Royal with a loaned four legged friend. See what I mean about Parisians being more friendly.
Our time in the Louvre was well spent, we covered a lot of ground in about 4 hours. It’s huge of course, and I leave Brian to be the navigator, not my forte!
One of our favorite areas is the Napoleon apartments, the guy knew how to impress his guests. Floor to ceiling adornment, much in gold leaf, filled the rooms. Impossible to take in all the details with every inch covered by elaborate painting, silks, huge chandeliers, carved and in laid wood and more gold leaf than you could take in.
The Mona Lisa is as it was the last time I was there a big disappointment. Tiny painting, on a huge wall, glass barrier protecting it and hordes of gawking people thirty deep taking pictures. One peek and we were out of there. Anxious to get back to the more obscure rooms where we were often alone taking in the vast number of paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Our last stop was my favorite ancient Egyptian art from 5000 years ago. So amazing.
After a quick sandwich in the lower level we leave the Louvre to walk along Rue Rivoli to the Champs Elyse and the Arc de Triomphe. My feet are reminding me how much walking I’ve done today but the’re holding up pretty well.
The weather has been beautiful all day, but we’re still tired from traveling and decide to stop at the markets on Rue Cler to pick up food for dinner at the apartment. We’ve had a productive day and saw a lot, but another early night is looking pretty good at this point.
Tips for the Louvre:
Buy your ticket in advance either on line or as a Paris Museum pass. You can get the museum pass through several companies – like Rail Europe or Viator and have it mailed to you before departure or delivered to your hotel when you get there.
Decide what you want to see before you get there and map it out so you have a plan. Typically after four hours you have sensory overload so see what you can in four hours and leave the rest for another day.
The audio guide is a great idea if you want more information but I find the sensory overload is even more acute so pace yourself.
You can take pictures in the museum but if your flash goes off you’ll be reminded by the many museum watchers in an instant. Speaking or which – how boring would that job be! Sitting in the corner of a room by yourself all day watching and making sure people behave. One poor guy was assigned to a room where the the exhibit was on loan so the display cases were all empty! Just empty display cases no people. He must have done something to annoy the person who designates rooms, or he’s the newby.
Needless to say wear good shoes and carry as little as you can. There are bathrooms sprinkled throughout and marked on the map.
There are places to eat in the lower level and shops and food court in the Louvre Carrousel. You have the enter the Carrousel from across the street beside the Arc de Carrousel. That’s where the inverted Pyramid is found, as well as some upscale (not tourist junk) shops and a good food court.
Be security conscious, keep your wallet and handbag safe, there are some pretty clever pickpockets watching for opportunities – especially where people gather – like the Mona Lisa.
Make sure you go see the area designated for the history of the Louvre and medieval Louvre. Very interesting.