Beyond its value as a unique way to explore pieces of history, THATLou is a great way to meet new people.
Note: some tours are bilingual, others are all in French. Consult the "Menu of Hunts" for more information.
On the other hand, there are some pieces that never get taken off the walls. The Mona Lisa and her smile attract millions of visitors each year. Other must-see masterpieces include the "Winged Victory" statue, "Death of Sardanapalus" by Eugène Delacroix, and Michelangelo's "Rebellious Slave."
There's no real trick to avoiding crowds at the always-packed museum. The best you can do is try to go in the off-season, early or late in the day, and on a weekday. Your chances of being alone with the Mona Lisa will still be slim to none, but you might be able to actually see that enigmatic smile behind the Plexiglas.
The history of France is displayed before you in every salon or hallway.
The museum, a former royal palace, first opened as a museum in 1793 after the French Revolution. The museum opened with about 600 paintings. Today, there are about 30,000 works of art on display.
Entrance tickets are about 11 Euros or you enter for free with the Paris Pass. At the desk, pick up the diagram and floor plan to guide you through the Louvre since it is a huge building .
When I arrived at the Louvre, where did I go? Naturally, to see Venus de Milo and I waited on line (surprisingly short) to view the famed Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci). She is smaller than you would think but I felt fortunate to see such a valuable and famous piece of art. Both art works were impressive.
I was drinking in the history and beauty and I had to see the Louvre. To say I was awed would be an accurate description of my feelings but I had saved the best for last...
The Musee d'Orsay was my favorite. The Gare d'Orsay was set to be razed in 1970, when the decision was made to save it for a museum venue. The d'Orsay is the museum of the French Impressionists. Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas. I walked from one salon to the next spending over two quiet hours surrounded by beauty.
Two more sites in Paris you need to visit.
Paul took this photo of the Louvre during our tour! Amazing!
We arrived late in the day and there was a long line to enter, yet it moved smoothy and we were able to enjoy the new wing for the last two hours before closing. Totally worth the 11 euro entry. The Islamic Dept. is found in the Denon Wing. The Louvre is closed Tuesday, so plan accordingly.
Where else could I have gone to get this shot!
You should plan for four days at the Louvre to really absorb the treasures in this grand museum. If you travel to stimulate your intellectual and emotional awakening, you’d fall in love with this place. You might find something that you’d take away with you for life, and I’m not talking about a souvenir.
I am not the only person in the courtyard at the Louvre this morning with a camera. Cell phone cameras. Professional rigs. Everyone else looks like they know what they are doing.
Everyone else has already taken the picture I think I want to take, though I don’t know what that picture is. The building is overwhelming. Even though the day is cloudy, spitting rain, and the light is flat, I do know that flat light is often good. The problem is that every shot has been taken, every angle by now a cliché.
A young woman climbs on top of a box, the pyramids and the old building her backdrop. She has an umbrella and an innocent smile. Her family laughs as they snap away—portraits for the album back in some other place. London, perhaps. Maybe Romania. It really doesn’t matter.
I do not know this girl. She will never know I took this picture. The couple walking behind her, their boredom as much a part of the image as the girl's lilt, will never know as well. But I owe each of them my thanks. This is the image I now carry in my head. The old building. The edge of a glass pyramid. The people walking, all of them disparate, and the dance of what it’s like to be very young and in Paris, at the Louvre.
This, I think, is the shot I want. It is not an extraordinary photograph. But here, I think, is the moment we all treasure. A small, personal, dance. Not humility, I think. Grace.
"Come here," I told my boyfriend. "This reminds me of Paolo and Francesca in the fifth canto of Dante's Inferno."
As I got closer, I saw two figures staring at the couple. One of them was in red, making it obvious two me that they represented Dante and Virgil, and that the painting was, in fact, a portrayal of the scene from the Divine Comedy.
The 77th room of the Denon wing of the first floor of the Louvre made me forget my hunger (not an easy feat) and be newly inspired by the magic of stories in both paintings and books.
It felt like we had the Louvre all to ourselves.
And there's nothing like simple and warm crêpes beurre-sucre bought from street vendor on a chilly day.
I wandered about the city on my own to my own accord.
As I stepped out of Gare du Nord and into the metro waiting area, I was approached by an elderly couple asking for directions. I knew then, that I was a traveler, not a tourist. Of course I did all of the quintessential things throughout the beautiful city and I am proud that I did it all for me as well as used my four months of French language skills that I had been learning in Brussels, Belgium.
I loved eating fresh baguette and goat cheese on the Champs-Elysees roundabout and watching the cars whoosh past.
Paris has a pulse and I felt mine beating with it the whole time.
If this is your virst visit, start with the museum’s “Masterpieces Visitor Trail” to see major oeuvres like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory. Avoid museum fatigue and choose only one other exhibit to tour.