They say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. For me, the happiest places are the ones that are steeped in history, intrigue and death. I’ve been to many such places and the Louvre Museum is definitely on top of that list.
I visited the Louvre Museum for the first time almost 20 years ago. It was a dark and cold December morning on one of those rare days when the admission to the museum was free. Despite the early hour, the lineup was impressively long and I was glad we got there early enough to be close to the entrance. I couldn’t wait to get inside and once I did, the magic of the place took over.
The Louvre is one of the largest and most diverse museums in the world and according my Lonely Planet guidebook, “it would take nine months to glance at every piece” inside. Talk about goals. It is home to priceless antiquities, works of the masters and stunning architecture, including the inverted glass pyramid. Here you can find Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, crown jewels and the Napoleon III Apartments.
The building itself it a stunning piece of work. Spanning over four floors, three wings – Sully, Denon and Richelieu – and a number of courtyards, this is an impressive place. I’ve always been a museum junkie and the Louvre speaks to every part of me. The historian, the adventurer and the photographer in me all come alive, each drawn to a different element.
The Louvre dates back to the 12th century, built as a medieval fortress. It was turned into a royal residence sometime during the 16th century and after the French Revolution it became a museum. Its collection includes priceless antiquities from Egypt and Mesopotamia, an impressive gallery of Islamic art, equally stunning works of French and Italian masters, sculptures and objects d’art (mainly ceramics, jewels, tapestries and furniture that once belonged to wealthy French patrons).
The first time, I spend a good few hours here and I still don’t think I saw all of it. It’s simply impossible to do in a day. The second time, we had about two hours to explore. We arrived later in the day and since it was already September, the crowds have thinned out to the point where we just walked up and bought tickets without waiting in line. I was really glad that we could go inside so Alex could see some of the wonderful things inside.
The funny part was, the museum hasn’t changed that much in 20 years. The layout was just as I remembered and the Mona Lisa was still hanging there, amusing the crowds gathered around her. The only part that we couldn’t see were the Napoleon III Apartments as they were under construction. That was a bummer. I remember those rooms as the most stunning ones I have ever seen and wanted Alex to see them too. I guess we now have a reason (like we really need one) to go back to Paris and the Louvre. 🙂
What you need to know when visiting the museum:
Tickets were 15 Euros per person and the admission also gives access to Delacroix Museum, which we didn’t have time to see.
You can get tickets online to gain quicker access inside and avoid the lines. Tickets are also valid all day and it appears you can re-enter the building during that time if you decide to leave.
There are three cafes inside and like any other museum, there are audio guides available for your visit.
The largest lineup is throught the Grand Pyramide, however, you can also enter the museum under the Arc du Carrousel (Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre metro stop.)
You should plan at least half a day to visit and that probably won’t be enough.
The Louvre is my happy place. What’s yours?