Yesterday we made our pilgrimage to the Louvre. I say pilgrimage because it seems to be a siren’s call, a necessity – visiting Paris? Must go to the Louvre. Well, for us anyway.
As to be expected, it was packed. And many of the people packing it seemed to be the stupid sort who use a flash on their camera despite being asked not to, touch things (what is with that? Even if there were not signs everywhere, who thinks touching, and in one case I saw with a stupid young Australian woman trying to pull off parts!, medieval sculpture is a good thing?), and ignore everything on the rush to see the Mona Lisa. But it doesn’t matter, because it is so good even a control freak like me can overcome her urge to tell people off and enjoy what is on offer.
Willem and I picked up audio-visual guides and decided to follow the ‘Egyptian Tour’ on Willem’s guide. The Louvre has an amazing collection of antiquities, and a large part of that has artifacts from Egypt. Willem had a good time following his guide along, though he is starting to show some of his mother’s control freak tendencies and freak out at any suggested deviation from the ‘official’ tour!
We met up with the Grandparents and had lunch before we swapped responsibilities – they took Willem for another tour (this time it was Louis XIII’s era) while I went on a general exploration. First stop was a visit to my favourite piece of art in the whole of the Louvre’s collection – a study of a chameleon by Pieter Boel, though that meant walking through some amazing galleries and looking at some amazing art along the way. I also visited the sculpture gardens; looked at some amazing medieval art, sculpture and tapestries; stood open mouthed in front of monumental Assyrian temple art and many other things besides.
The Louvre is a huge collection and you could spend weeks, if not months, exploring it all. And most people don’t have that amount of time. So here are some tips for making the most of your visit:
– Get there early. The line for tickets is VERY long, and the line even for those with pre-booked tickets or museums passes can get long (though yesterday a woman came over and apologised, saying that due to Grandma having a walking stick we could not wait in the line, we had to go straight in. We could cope with that.) The other alternative it to check if the Louvre is having a late night opening while you are there and to go in the afternoon and spend the evening looking at the collection.
– There is no way you are going to see everything, so develop a plan. Pick up one of the audiovisual guides (€6 for adults, €2 for under 18s) and follow one or two of the tours provided. Or buy one of the many published guides available. Otherwise, choose a certain area of the collection you would like to explore, or choose two or three pieces you would like to see and make your way around to see them.
– Don’t bother with the Mona Lisa (La Jaconde in French). Not only is it a rather uninspiring work, it will have a crowd and you won’t be able to see it properly anyway.
– Don’t forget to look at the buildings – not only is the collection impressive, but so too are the buildings that house it. Whether it is the original buildings of the Louvre, or the modern extensions, take time to soak in the beauty of it all.
The museum is open every day except Tuesday and the following French holidays: December 25, January 1, and May 1. The opening hours are – Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. – closed on Tuesday