Our 2 last days in Paris were, as forecasted, rainy. Convinced that we have seen the outdoor highlights of Paris in 3 days, we dedicated the fourth day to the humongous Louvre museum, and the last day to Palais-Garnier (and to watching the Hobbit…) Louvre Museum is so famous I don’t need to quite add anything else to it. Well, it’s huge–mind you, it was a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century, spanning over an area of 60,600 square metres. There are about 35,000 objects, dated from prehistory to the 21st century, are on display, thus you can spend a lifetime looking at every item there. It has approximately 9.7 million visitors each year, so it is crowded. Some artworks so famous even art-dummies know, such as the Mona Lisa, The Nike of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Diana bathing, the Hammurabi etc. are exhibited in the Louvre, so the museum is extra crowded. To give you a sense of how crowded it can be, this is a photo of the line queuing to get inside the museum I took at around 11am on Friday:
Is there any way to beat the crowd? Of course there is. The easiest way is to queue as early as possible. We joined the queue at 8:30 (at the Pyramid gate) and were admitted inside the museum at 9:10. By the time we got in, the line looked pretty scary already. Yet we went to Louvre in the low season, who knows how long it can get at 8:30am on a fine summer morning?
There are other ways: buy a Paris pass so you can queue in the much shorter line nearby; or queue at some of the side entrances of the Louvre other than the Pyramid entrance (see more here). In any case, do your research before visiting the Louvre to save time and save yourselves annoyance. As of the time of this writing, a normal ticket to the Louvre is 12 euro. I got in for free xDDD because I am a resident in the EEC and under 25. That was sweet I tell you. Your ticket for the Louvre is valid for the day, thus you can leave the museum say, for lunch, and enter it later without having to pay for another ticket.
Let me emphasize that the Louvre is HUGE. If you have time and money to visit the Louvre again and again, wandering is an excellent strategy; if not, then do some research in advance. The Louvre website gives you some ideas of organizing your visit, like these visitors’ trails. If you are pressed for time, these trails are indeed of great help. How about us? We were both interested in the Egyptian antiquities department (with just 50000 objects, never mind) so a walk there was a must. In addition to that, I forced my bf to walk The Masterpieces trail and Delacroix trail. In the end, we strayed from the trail and managed to see French & Dutch painting, the Near Eastern antiquities, and some others…
Some mandatory photos of mandatory pieces to see:
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss–simply amazing. I have been fascinated by this sculpture since forever and being able to see it in real life was thrilling. You can feel the aura, the softness, the luminosity radiating around this beauty.
The Venus de Milo was indeed beautiful:
Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, who was surrounded by a large glass cage and an army of curious watchers with camera and phones open to take photos of this classy lady. The painting was small and dark, and obviously the crowd didn’t help. Overall, a disappointing experience spoiled by the crowd. We both felt sad for other paintings and sculptures around Ms. La Joconde, as they were sadly ignored by the herd of tourists. I took a photo of me in front of the painting for the parents and left…
Just a few feet from Mona Lisa was the Large French Paintings department, please do give this place a (long) look. I was moved to tears in front of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading People. It was just stunning.
Another of Delacroix’s masterpieces: Death of Sardanapalus
The Massacre at Chios was also incredible:
Moving on, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s Grande Odalisque kept my breath away:
Don’t forget Jacques-Louis David’s Leonidas at Thermopylae:
and his famed The Coronation of Napoleon–a wondrous, wondrous painting. It is surely a show-stopper, with sadly hardly anyone standing there to admire and take in every single detail:
Some stunning other statues we saw before proceeding to the Egyptian department:
The Egyptian department, as mentioned earlier, possesses a vast collection spanning across a number of rooms and, I think, 2 floors. It has everything: from everyday life objects and paintings, to statues of Pharaohs and other luminosities, to a real human mummy, and, you guess, cat, bird, crocodile mummies. Sphynx, sphynx everywhere!
And mummies and anything related to mummies…
Sarcophage of Ramss III:
Non-human mummies :O
But our favorite item was….
The museum building in itself was quite a sight to behold:
Tired as we were, we still managed to drag ourselves to the Dutch & French painting departments as I wanted to see more of Delacroix’s art… The artist’s self-portrait:
Orphan Girl at the Cemetery is such an intense piece:
Medea about to Kill her Children is another show-stopper. You have to look into her eyes!
These rooms, filled with gorgeous artworks, were blissfully and may I say sadly free of people :\
Just about when we were determined to leave the museum, we stumbled upon these humongous, awe-inspiring, statues. And dare I say, misplaced. We both felt sad to see such amazing, more-than-art creations ripped out of their context, placed in between thousands of other artworks, for the purpose of viewing. Well, for preserving of course, but it was still sad to see them standing there, instead of where they are supposed to be. It just didn’t feel right. But who am I to criticize?
After about 6 hours in the Louvre, we were mentally and physically exhausted. It is the world’s biggest and most visited museum for a reason, and it is one of the highlights of our trip. If you have enough time in Paris, I believe that you should at least spend a day in the Louvre, even if you are not that into art.