On our first full day in Paris, we set out on an adventure to explore a 16th century palace; a palace which also happens to house one of the most expensive art collections in the world.
Along the way, we stopped for chocolate croissants and espresso — a decadent ritual that would intertwine into our daily schedule over the next week — and ten minutes later we crossed Pont du Carrousel and set our eyes upon Musee’ de Louvre.
The famous glass pyramid was a sight to behold as it glistened in the morning light; and the incredible historic palace surrounding the pyramid provided an interesting contrast of ancient and modern art in one grand display.
We made our way towards the glass pyramid to begin our day of exploration; and after a seamless glide through security, we picked up a map at the Visitor Center in order to orient ourselves with the massive museum. Browsing over the map, we immediately we zeroed in on the museum’s most famous resident: The Mona Lisa.
Before our trip, I had read horror stories regarding this painting. Most of these stories involve a claustrophobic inducing scenario: a large room filled to capacity, people standing shoulder to shoulder often times bumping and nudging their neighbors as they try to get the best view of Mona’s enigmatic expression. People, close quarters, an invasion of personal space — I wanted to avoid that scenario as best I could (I get claustrophobic just thinking about it), so we decided our best bet was to start the day with Mona and then explore the rest of the museum from there.
We set off in the general direction of Mona and soon climbed a grand staircase which lead to one of the sculptures I was most excited to see — Winged Victory. Created in 220-185 B.C. and prominently displayed at the Louvre since 1884, I stood in awe at the base of the marble statue and contemplated the many reasons her audience is so captivated — Was it the name? The symbolism? The age of the statue? The Victoria’s Secret wings? 😉
Our excitement levels rose higher as we walked down the final gallery before reaching Mona, and as we entered the room, a smile crossed my face. The room was nearly empty. Our game plan was successful, and our prize was a front row view of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.
Afterwards, we slowly wandered the impressive galleries filled with Italian paintings, nerded out over ancient artifacts, and viewed the impressive Greek sculptures — including Venus de Milo and a second glance at Winged Victory.
With over 70,000 pieces of art in its collection, it is impossible to see everything in one trip; and after spending over three hours exploring the Denon Wing, we decided it was time to refuel. For the record, by ‘refuel’ I clearly mean, devour a mountain of macarons. 😉
We departed the Louvre knowing that one day we will be back for more. After all, we still have an entire wing to explore.
Have you been to the Louvre? What was your favorite piece?
A few traveler tips:
- If you’re headed to the Louvre, purchase your tickets online before hand. This will save you time in the security line and you won’t have to wait in a second line to buy your entry tickets.
- Go EARLY! We reserved our tickets for 9AM (the moment it opened), so we had some time to explore without the hoards of tourists packing the halls.
- Visitors can download the Louvre audio tour on their personal Nintendo 3DS, which saves time from checking one out while at the Museum.
- For museum tips, maps, hours, and more check out the official website here.