My first day in Paris involved a lot of walking (which you can read all about here) and the second day was very tactfully picked for the Largest Museum in the world: THE LOUVRE. We learned online that the museum is closed on Tuesday, so we decided to pick Monday, because of course, Sunday is going to be crowded (being a holiday).
Well, guess what? That was our first mistake. To our shock, the only crowd we saw the previous day was outside: with people taking ridiculous pictures with the Louvre Pyramid. And the next day, well, let’s just say standing in the queue took two hours. But that was also because of our second mistake: NOT BUYING THE TICKETS IN ADVANCE.
Also Read: How To Spend a Weekend in Paris
And I topped that, with this: wearing my tight leather boots (thinking I will be ART in the largest art museum in the world). I had begun crying (on the inside) in the queue itself and, I wasn’t even aware of what this looonngg day still held for me. From our one visit there, I quickly realized that you really need AN ENTIRE DAY for this museum. It’s the world’s largest art museum – and a historic monument – for a reason.
So finally when we did enter the museum, we had to buy the tickets. You guessed it right; we stood in the queue again! thankfully, this was quick- I wasn’t sure how long I could keep up with my boots slaughtering my toes. Now, a few basic things that I learned due to my mistakes would be:
Get A Map!
Yes, we did not get an official map, because we thought the floor maps and the directions will lead us to our destinations. While the on floor maps did give us an idea, we found them extremely confusing. There was a congregation of people, who thought Monday was the best day to visit the museum, so basically wherever we went, we would find ourselves to be a part of a random group. This was quite annoying, especially when you are limping half the time (more than half).
Get an Audio Guide!
As the museum itself is so very vast, there are only a few pieces of art that have descriptions underneath them in languages that aren’t French. So, I would suggest that you get an audio guide (I mean if you really are interested in art and history) to fully understand this treasure trove of history.
Book your tickets in advance!
If you do not wish to feel like you are standing in some never-ending government office queue then, please do the needful and book the tickets in advance. (Learn from our mistakes!)
Plan what works of art you want to see!
I would suggest that look online beforehand for which specific pieces you wish to see in the museum, rather than wandering aimlessly through its maze of galleries. There are 403 rooms in three wings on multiple levels connected by multiple staircases. Therefore, before your visit, spend some time on the website to understand the layout and what art you would like to see. Make note of the specific pieces you are looking for, through each section of this gigantic museum and then follow the map.
Even when I was looking for a sitting area wherever we went, there were a few famous antiquities that we made sure to visit. These were: The Coronation of Napoleon, Pavillon de l’Horloge (actually we kept coming back here because we couldn’t find our way to The Scribe), The Mona Lisa, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Liberty Leading the People, Great Sphinx of Tanis, The Venus de Milo, Hammurabi’s Code, and The Seated Scribe.
If I am being honest, right before we FINALLY found The Scribe, I was almost dead. My feet were killing me; I was feeling guilty of ruining the day for my companions as well and I just needed to be away from all the people for just 5 minutes! The room which had The Mona Lisa was jam-packed. There was a long queue to see the piece as well as to click pictures with it. Ok, I don’t want to be rude to the art or history, but the size of the painting really was disappointing. Photographs often show just the painting with no indicator of size, but it is actually only 30 inches by 21 inches. It didn’t help that she sat on her own wall, making it seem even smaller.
I decided to not torture my feet anymore and took a seat in the corner while my sister tried to go in front to see the famous picture, but eventually, even she thought it would be better to just leave. I am very thankful that due to my awful state, she gave me her socks and extra shoes (which were one whole size bigger than me). I wore them nonetheless because beggars truly cannot be choosers.
We took a metro to Boulevard du Montparnasse to have a late Lebanese lunch and to visit La Closerie des Lilas. Following this, we went to visit the bookstore: Shakespeare and Company, which simply took us back in time. This iconic Parisian bookstore is a must for all book lovers and literary buffs! We took the metro and from our station walked back home. The walk was quite dreamy, as it started to drizzle and we could see Eiffel Tower lit up in all its glory. After a few minutes, the twinkling began and I couldn’t help but wish for another day in Paris.
So, what are you waiting for? Plan your own dream-like trip to Paris and let us know about your experiences below!