Oh, the Louvre! My grandma saw a picture of me by the Mona Lisa and all she had to say about the moment was: “Jenna, you look so tired.” I was. 😉
The first time we went to the Louvre, we were sleep-deprived and I felt seriously cranky about the size of this place. The map makes it seem like a small, easy-to-navigate museum. Don’t let the map fool you! You WILL have emotions about the size of the place, you WILL run out of time, you’ll probably get lost in there at least once (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but detours take more time). You can’t see the whole thing in a day. I mean, you’ll want to when you first go and think it’s possible, but after a few hours, all of that energy will be zapped. 😀
Since Waldir and I didn’t have the best first impression of the Louvre (due to our pre-existing exhaustion, which wasn’t the Louvre’s fault), we went back the next day and got a much better impression.
-Paris Museum Pass is a must.
-BREAK IT UP INTO TWO VISITS, if you can. It might not be possible, but if it is that’s great because the Louvre is much more enjoyable the second time around. You likely won’t be freaking out about seeing certain things such as the Mona Lisa. After hitting your must-sees the first visit, you can go back and explore what you didn’t get to see before–and/or revisit your favorites.
-Speaking of must-sees: Do make a list and have a game plan of what you want to see. I knew I should have done this, and I didn’t, and when we got there we were–well, unprepared. Since you’ll have limited time and energy, it’s best to plan before you even get to Paris. Do some research on the Louvre website about the collections and make a list of must-sees, and have in mind galleries you’re willing to skip. That way you’ll go in the museum having a general sense of what’s in there, which is a good first step. Don’t be like me and STUMBLE upon the Code of Hammurabi. I mean, that was a happy surprise (I didn’t know it was in the Louvre), but what if I had missed it? :O If planning sounds over-the-top to you, just remember: You’ll be walking into the world’s largest museum. A little planning goes a long way.
-Know your limits. Maybe archaeologists, historians, art historians, etc. can handle the Louvre for eight hours straight, but the rest of us likely haven’t built up the stamina. For me, three hours in the Louvre on one day, and another three on the next, was just the right amount of time. Of course I wish I could have been in there longer, but five weeks of museums and churches really had taken its toll. Just be mindful of where you are and have realistic expectations.
-Eat (and eat well) before you go. The cafes inside the museum have long lines, and I don’t want to waste my time in the Louvre standing in line for food of all things. Note that if you need a break to eat while in the museum, you can leave and come back using the same ticket. You can pop right into the mall (connected to the Louvre) and get food there. Mall food might sound unappealing, especially when you’re in France (because why eat in a mall while in France of all places?!), but we got rained in and ended up eating in the mall and it was actually good food. Probably because we were in France, where standards, even for mall food, are high.
-Remember that galleries start closing down 30 minutes before the museum officially closes. Right when Waldir and I made it to the African galleries, the museum started shutting down room by room, with staff closing off sections and herding people out. We kept moving away from the staff to try to have more time in the galleries that were still open, which was hilarious. We power-walked away from the staff, into sections that hadn’t yet been blocked off. It felt like an exodus. Eventually a wave of us (humans still in the museum) met in the middle–between two closed galleries–and were forced to exit via a big staircase. 😀 The end.