Last time I was in Paris, I saw the outside of The Louvre. If you’re into buildings that alone is almost enough, as the home to perhaps the most famous art collection in the world is a piece of art in itself. The Louvre Palace dates back to the late 12th century and was originally built as a fortress; the original foundations of the fortress are still visible in the lower ground of the palace which was pretty amazing to walk through. Over time it was extended to become the palace that we know today. It was the home of many French kings, perhaps the most notable – for me anyway, purely for literary reasons – being Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV (the rulers of France in the Alexandre Dumas novels The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask respectively) and was the royal residence until the latter Louis moved his court to Versailles in 1682.
From that point the palace began its transformation from palace to museum, but its status as a museum was not made official until the 1980’s. The famous glass pyramid that serves as the main entrance to the museum was opened in 1989 and whether you’re a fan of it or not, there’s no denying it’s a pretty spectacular piece of architecture, especially when looking up from underneath it. The contrast of the modern lines of glass against the centuries old stone of the palace is really quite beautiful.
The day I visited I got there at 11:30an which is quite late to start considering how busy it gets (stupid of me, I know), but I went on the Wednesday when the museum is open until 10pm so I didn’t mind so much. I could have been smart about the visit and purchased my tickets online beforehand, but I didn’t. Instead I jumped into the infamous Line to Get Into The Louvre. It actually went quite fast (I wasn’t in the line for any more than 40 minutes which I thought was reasonable) and allowed ample time for people watching. There was a really funny man in line behind me who gave his daughter the following advice when she asked if she could take photos in the museum: “You can do whatever you want. You can cheat, steal, or kill and it’s OK as long as you don’t get caught.” Dad goals.
The Renaissance art was especially beautiful and although I didn’t get to have a close up look at the Mona Lisa (because tour groups have no concept of getting out of the way) it was pretty cool to know I was in the same room as her. Other highlights are the sculptures which is probably what I took the most photos of, and the Apartments of Napoleon III. I’ve never truly understood the meaning of the words ‘opulent’ and ‘decadent’ until walking through those apartments – they were incredible. So incredible that I’ll be devoting a whole post to them because they deserve it.
By the time I finished I was struggling to walk. I put in a solid 7 ½ hours strolling around and I’m about 99.9% certain that I set foot in every single gallery and at least let my eyes rest fleetingly on most of the pieces. I can highly recommend hiring an audio guide if you ever visit as the museum is so huge it wouldn’t be difficult to get lost. How would an audio guide prevent this? Well the audio guides at the Louvre are actually Nintendo 3Ds’s, so not only do you get the audio fun but it also has a map built into it that works with GPS tracking – very handy for not only finding yourself (in the literal sense), but also plotting your way around the museum. I actually ran down the battery on mine and got a bit lost trying to find my way out of the place, so that was fun. Yes it was packed with tourists and yes my everything hurt by the end of the day, but it really is one of those places that you have to visit if you’re ever in Paris.
And now, here are some of my favourite photos from my day in the Louvre. Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of the little plaques describing most of the artworks, so I can’t give you a proper blurb for most of the photos, but I’m sure you’ll live.