As a former art gallery director, a visit to Paris would not have been complete without a visit to the Louvre. Yet, when I finally arrived at this world renowned museum and saw the lines, I balked. I had three days in Paris. There was no way I wanted to spend my time in an endless queue!
In addition, it was an unseasonably warm April and the unrelenting afternoon sun forced several people to take refuge under their umbrellas. They came prepared, I wasn’t.
No, there was no way I’d stand on that line, not even for the Louvre, I thought. Sitting by the fountain was infinitely more pleasant. But more than half an hour later, I was still there circling, taking photographs, people watching, undecided.
Finally, I came to my senses. Who was I fooling, I asked myself. Why come so close and not visit? I joined the line which, surprisingly, moved more quickly than I anticipated.
The security guard checked my bag — the source of the slow moving lines — and I was finally in! As I entered the underground lobby, I spotted a bank of vending machines and within a few minutes, had ticket and museum brochure in hand.
One of the most visited museums in the world, with 15,000 daily visitors, the Grand Louvre opened in the former Palais du Louvre in 1793. It contains nearly 400,000 objects, displays 35,000 artworks in eight curatorial departments and has almost 700,000 square feet dedicated to its permanent collection.
With only a few hours to spend, I knew there was little chance that I’d get to see the Mona Lisa, without a doubt the Louvre’s most popular attraction, or the statue of Venus de Milo, so I decided to check out the Louvre’s collection of African and European art.
It turned out to be a good choice as I had to walk through the European gallery to find the African gallery, which was so well off the beaten path, I had to ask several security guards to help me find it. When I did, I exhaled and relaxed in the quiet.
Dedicated in April, 2000 by former French President Jacques Chirac, the African, Asian, Oceanic and American gallery was almost deserted — only one person, an artist or art student — who stood silently sketching one of the exhibits and a couple security guards. It was also much smaller than I anticipated but no less impressive. And the best part, I could enjoy the exhibits almost undisturbed. I didn’t have to dodge the backs of other viewers’ heads.
The Louvre Museum
Hours: Mondays, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays 9 a.m. – 10 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, December 25th, January 1st and May 1st.
Fees: 10 € (Full day access), 6 € multimedia guide
Metro: Palais Royal Musee du Louvre station
Even though I spent only a few hours at the Louvre, I was overloaded visually by the time I left. But I’m very glad that I stayed. As an art lover, I would have been kicking myself now if I had not seen it.