There I sat on my hotel bed in Paris. My artist wife lay beside luxuriating in the white hotel bathrobe as we unwound from our busy day in the City of Lights.
She was reading a story while I was tapping out another 500-word Saturday Morning Story on my new MacBook. It was her 15th anniversary gift to me. We had just used my gift to her — a membership to the Louvre.
As I tapped out the story, I decided that it could wait. Instead, today I provide you — free of charge — 10 of my immediate observations about the Louvre fresh from that same night, mere hours after I returned from the world’s most famous museum.
In no particular order:
1. The Louvre Is A-Maze-Ing
It’s huge. This can’t be overstated. It’s like a giant maze disguised as the world’s most famous museum.
Heading into our visit, I read many people sharing how huge it was. Seeing is believing, I guess, because it’s even larger than I thought; even after reading so many “huge” reviews of the museum.
2. Crowds All Day, Every Day
The Louvre will be crowded. No way around this. It sees 8-10 million visitors per year; roughly 15,000 per day. It’s noticeable. Patience will be key to navigating the entire museum.
3. A Room Is Not A Room
The Louvre’s rooms are massive.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about a room, I think of a meeting room, a board room, or even a bedroom. These “rooms” are sometimes larger than a house.
I guess that goes with the territory of this building being a former royal palace — everything is grand.
4. Make A List, Check It Twice
Know what you want to see ahead of time and know what room each piece is in. You don’t need to memorize the map, but it would be helpful to check and have a general idea of how the place is laid out. Good luck.
5. One Hand In Your Pocket — Isn’t It Ironic?
The most ironic part of our visit was the sheer amount of money the Louvre generates from the Mona Lisa, among other pieces. Leonardo da Vinci would be a billionaire — with a capital B — based on royalties alone.
Immediately after leaving the room his famous portrait is displayed in, you will be confronted by a large makeshift souvenir area. It was clearly shoehorned across the hall from the main exit to the room and stanchioned off.
The Mona Lisa is reproduced on everything: Socks (yes, I bought a pair), notepads, pens, pencils, magnets, mugs, puzzles, t-shirts, pins, posters, and even chocolate bars.
6. Closed On Tuesday
Don’t plan to visit the Louvre on a Tuesday. It will be closed.
Plus, its rooms rotate closures during the week for maintenance purposes. Check the Louvre website ahead of time for its schedule of room closures and cross reference with the list you’ve already made.
7. Napoleon III’s Pad
Napoleon III lived in the lap of luxury. His “apartment” wasn’t exactly a Manhattan studio. It was more like a sprawling Beverly Hills estate, except completely indoors, entirely ornate, and covered in gold.
8. Internet Dead Zone
The network connectivity — either over data or on wi-fi — ranges from terrible to non-existent. This issue will come into play with a later observation.
9. It’s Big Foot!
The Venus de Milo is breathtaking in person.
Also, it’s lone exposed foot is rather large; like, man-sized large. It was an odd juxtaposition to the rest of the female statue.
10. Treasure Hunt
If you’re looking for one specific piece that isn’t one of the highlight attractions (like the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo), then you will be hunting for a needle in a literal haystack of art and antiquities.
Google searches for exact location of items are less than helpful and are made more difficult during your visit due to the aforementioned network connectivity issues.
11. (Bonus) Space Mountain Lisa
You will wait longer to see the Mona Lisa than you will wait for some rides at Disneyland Paris.
The Mona Lisa queue moves fairly quickly — there are two, actually. While the queues flow relatively smoothly until you hit the crush of people at the front, they are not at “walk-on” status like Star Tours, Indiana Jones & The Temple of Peril, or Space Mountain can be late at night.
12. (Bonus) I Would Walk 500 Miles
I spent two hours in the 652,000-square-foot building and put 5,000+ steps on my pedometer. To contrast: That is about the same hourly average as I did at the 240-million-square-foot Disneyland Paris. You will be walking. Lots.
The Louvre is huge.
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