With as much as there is to see in Paris, it’s hard to decide on an absolute favorite place (read about my top places here). I loved riding the elevator to the tip-top of the Eiffel Tower, eating macarons on the winding streets of Montmartre, and standing in awe of Notre Dame. The place I looked most forward to, though, was the Louvre.
The Louvre is Paris’s most famous museum, making it the most popular with tourists. I was told a thousand times to go to a smaller museum like Musée d’Orsay or Petit Palais instead. My hard-headed self ignored these suggestions, and I’m so glad that I did.
I took a course on art history during the Enlightenment while I was in college where I majored in international studies. My emphasis was in European culture & the arts, so an art history course was the perfect fit for my studies. Previously I spent my time studying literature & history, but with course requirements creeping up on me, I knew I would have to squeeze an art course in. One of my good friends had registered for this class so I did the same. Little did I know this course would open up a spring of interests for me and allowed me to become more interested in the arts while also being more knowledgeable. It made me realize that there is typically a political or emotional undertone in all art; as much as my previous self wanted to think that all art was created to look pretty, it’s simply not the case.
Being as newly-obsessed with art as I was, and knowing that many famous artworks were housed in Paris, I checked around with many museums and came to the conclusion that I would get the most excitement out of visiting the Louvre. I’m also intrigued by the French Revolution so the fact that the museum has exhibits on King Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette was a definite plus.
I had such a fangirl experience walking through the exhibits at the Louvre. From seeing Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David to Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix to the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the Louvre definitely gave me the taste of art that I was searching for.
There are some things, however, that you’ll need to keep in mind if you plan to visit the Louvre. The first: it will be extremely crowded – emphasis on extremely – especially if you plan to visit Venus de Milo or Mona Lisa. Be prepared to work your way to the front of a rambunctious crowd while receiving unkind glares & sporadic shoves. There will be iPads on selfie sticks (I didn’t even know this was possible) and aggressive efforts to get a selfie with Mona Lisa. Be patient but persistent and you’ll get your selfie, too.
Second, plan your path through the museum. Select certain sections to explore instead of aimlessly wandering through wings you aren’t interested in. I knew I wasn’t super into Italic & Etruscan Antiquities so I didn’t visit that wing of the museum. Instead I visited the different European paintings sections (all outlined on the Louvre’s website here). If you know which sections you want to explore, you won’t have to spend precious time looking for certain works. Pick up a map at the entrance to the museum to guide you to the wings that you want. Wings even have popular works emboldened onto their section of the guide.
Third, plan to spend a good amount of time in the museum. There is so much to see and so much more that I wish I could have seen. You could spend days in the Louvre and not see it all. If it’s possible for you to spend a decent chunk of time there, do it. You won’t regret it.
Hi, I'm Madeline
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