Yes, I know. The Louvre is this majestic place full of culture and history and all these extraordinary artifacts….and I still can’t help it.
I am not a museum person.
And trying to navigate past tourists, then through pots and bowls that were found 500 years ago, to try and get to a hall full of paintings by artists I’ve never even heard of, is the equivalent of me being locked in a room with a bunch of cymbal-playing monkeys that won’t turn off.
I’m sorry. I wish it were different. But the Louvre is huge. So huge, that anyone who mildly dislikes museums has a near panic attack just looking at it from the outside. And yet, to others, the size only excites them more and they can’t wait to get in and explore from top to bottom (which is FIVE FLOORS by the way).
Don’t get me wrong. I love art and culture but I’d rather be out experiencing a culture than looking at it in the confines of a glass case. With that being said, the Louvre, in all its grand opulence, is iconic. And whether you like museums or not, it is well worth a visit.
The Louvre boasts 5 floors and has an expanse of over 652,300 sq feet. There really isn’t anything to compare that to because standing outside the Louvre and trying to get a panorama of the place is nearly impossible. What is even harder to comprehend is that the museum was once a royal palace. Though the building was expanded upon over a number of years, I just can’t fathom living in a place that large. When the royal family started living at Versailles, the Louvre became a place to hold the family’s extensive collection of art and sculptures. Now, as a museum, the Louvre displays approximately 35,000 antiquities from all over the world.
So for those of you who are fine with snapping one picture and moving on, here’s how you can experience the Louvre and not lose your mind:
- Get there early. I made the beneficial mistake of getting the hours wrong and ended up in line about 35 minutes before it opened. I was about 8th in line. If you’re going to have to wait at some point anyway, you might as well wait to be one of the first ones in.
- Know what you want to see. I had some inkling of what interested me most, so it was easier to find the locations and go directly towards the attractions. If you don’t know what you are there to see, chances are you will just look around aimlessly while wondering which way to go.
- My first order of business was to find the Mona Lisa. Knowing its popularity, it was a good choice to head there immediately because it was already gathering a small group of people. Since it was still early, I didn’t have to fight off too many people and got a decent picture.
These are probably the most sought after artifacts and their locations:
Mona Lisa aka La Gioconda by Leonardo da Vinci- 1st floor paintings
Napoleon’s Coronation- 1st floor paintings
Ramesses II Statue- Ground floor, Egyptian Antiquities
Code of Hammurabi- Ground floor, near Eastern Antiquities
Winged Victory of Samothrace- 1st floor Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities
The Seated Scribe- 1st floor, Egyptian Antiquities
Venus de Milo (Aphrodite)- Ground floor, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities
The locations are relative and chances are you will still get a little lost. But at least you will be out of there before your museum experience interferes with lunchtime.
*Photography TIP: If you want the famous picture standing by the tip of the glass pyramid, head there when the museum is closing. You have a better chance of getting a shot without too many people around.