A trip to the Musee du Louvre is a serious affair.
Maybe you have already purchased your tickets online. That was smart…one less line to stand in. A caffeine buzz for your head and the most comfortable pair of shoes you own, for your feet, come in handy, as well as some knowledge of what you would like to see. The quality of your experience depends on how prepared you are. If you think I’m kidding, just ask anyone who has embarked upon their great art expedition on a Sunday afternoon in August, with a companion who doesn’t really want to be there, wearing shoes that kill, confusedly wandering from wing to wing for hours on end, trying to see everything in a day, overwhelmed by crowds. Bummer.
The history of the museum is as interesting as the art. King Philippe-Auguste began the construction of a fortress on this site in 1190, to protect the city against Viking raids. In 1360, King Charles V decided to turn it into a royal residence. During the course of the next four hundred years, a succession of French kings and renowned architects embarked upon major expansions and renovations of the palace, which was also home to a stunning collection of art. In 1682 King Louis XIV officially left Paris to reside at Versailles and in 1793, after the French Revolution, the museum was opened to the public.
Do some research. This museum houses about 35,000 works of art spread over eight departments: Near East Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Paintings, and Prints and Drawings.
Go to the official website of the museum, www.louvre.fr and decide what it is that you really must see and map out your visit. You don’t want waste good energy, traipsing from one end of the palace to the other and back again, trying to locate rooms. FYI: I have been to the Louvre four times and still have only seen about half of the collection. There are certain works of art, especially in the Paintings Department (12 curators oversee this department alone) that I am drawn to like a magnet. They feed my soul, they are part of my Paris fix. I make a big loop through breathtakingly beautiful salons, audibly squeaking and squealing with delight as I approach my favorites. I must be dragged away from Jacques-Louis David’s, The Coronation of Napoleon (December 2, 1804) an historical painting of great beauty, which draws the viewer into the event.
Next visit I am determined to see the Medieval Louvre exhibit, including a recently excavated walk through the moat and along the fortress walls of Philippe-Auguste’s original structure.
Then I’ll be diving into antiquity. I’m looking for the stairway that leads down to the Crypt of the Sphinx.
If you think you might like to take your time perusing the 1.6 million square feet of the Louvre galleries, or if you have other museum visits on your agenda as well, consider purchasing a two, four or six-day Paris Museum Pass, which allows you entry to over sixty museums and monuments in and around Paris. www.parismuseumpass.com can give you more info, including where to purchase your pass and how it may be used. Remember, the pass is good for all permanent collections. Special exhibits, audio tours, etc., are extra. Plus, at the Louvre, with the pass, you get to use the priority entrance in the Passage Richelieu, which saves time.
Now be off with you, intrepid art-lover, and enjoy!
MUSEE DU LOUVRE
Metro: Palais Royal, Musee du Louvre
Hours: 9am-6pm except Tuesday and certain holidays
Open until 10pm Wednesday and Friday
Free Admission 1st Sunday of each month