One word that comes to mind when you lay eyes on the Louvre is MAJESTIC. You stumble into the vast courtyard first. The Louvre gives the impression of a palatial fortress for good reason. Originally a royal palace dating back to medieval times, it received its current look in Renaissance times. The French-Renaissance Louvre has been a palace for the arts for over 200 years. Knowing that I was standing at the entrance to such a magnificent palace and that it houses such an epic collection of beautiful history, took my breath away. To travel back in time, you would need to pick one time and place to visit. At such a grand museum, you can be wowed by history at a leisurely pace.
That said, you should narrow your focus at the Louvre. Being the largest museum in Europe, means you can’t traverse it all in a day or possibly even a week. One of these days I hope to test that theory. At 652,300 square feet it houses over 35,000 works. Personally, I was torn between ancient marble statues and French paintings simply because I’ve never been to a museum with such a large collection of French art. I chose to take advantage of my location and went with 16th and 17th century French paintings. A fortuitous blessing fell in my lap when we had to pass through a floor of ancient marble statues in order to get to the aforementioned paintings. It was fabulous and I got to see both! We could have spent the entire time at the Louvre but the draw of Paris herself was too strong. I had to go exploring. The rest of the magnificent Louvre must wait until I return.
Practicalities when visiting the Louvre
- Know what you are going to see. Impressionist art is not housed in the Louvre but at the Musee d’Orsay.
- Advanced tickets are advisable as the line is very long. There is a back entrance though a line can form there as well. My train ticket included a 2 for 1 pass for Parisian museums but the Louvre is not included.
- Bags must be airline carry-on size or smaller to be stored. Bags larger than purses will not be allowed into the museum. They will hold your bag for free and give you a tag to claim it when you return. You are advised to take remove anything of value and take it with you. There are several workers coming and going. When I returned for my bag, I was escorted back to pick from the lot so I second the recommendation to not leave behind anything of value.
- Take your own guided tour. Introductory guided tours are available in French or English. For a more in-depth personal tour you must brush up on your French.
- If you prefer to explore at your own pace you can also get an audio guide. Audio guides come in the form of a handheld Nintendo, sure to be a big hit with the kids, or download one to your iPhone or Android .
The eyesore – that glass monstrosity they call the Pyramid. This is the result of a single ruler having too much power. It’s a grand example of why we don’t want to be Socialist my fellow Americans. You can’t ignore it because its smack in the middle of the courtyard, plus it’s the main entrance. Other than providing natural light down in the entrance/lobby area, it serves no function. Surely, a handful of well-placed skylights would have sufficed.