There is no doubt that when it comes to museums, the Louvre is the mac daddy of them all. A place so honking big that you could wander around it for forty days and forty nights and not see half of the treasures stored there. And therein lies the problem. The Louvre is simply overwhelming.
Most people who come to the Louvre for the first time make a beeline for Mona Lisa…I know I did in 2001. But she’s not all that easy to find. You have to go up some stairs and down some halls…and you have to remember that in Europe that what they call the first floor, Americans call the second. And the maps they hand you require an advanced degree in engineering or cartography to figure out.
Finally though, if you’re lucky, you find her. And most people’s immediate reaction is disappointment in her small size and the large size of the crowd surrounding her.
Once you see the Mona Lisa, you have any number of choices. But if you listen closely to the conversations around you, this is what you most likely hear…
“What do you want to see now?”
“I dunno…what do you want to see?”
Frustration sounds the same in any language.
So if you’re planning a trip to Paris, why not check out some of the smaller gems…like L’Orangerie with Monet’s magnificent HUGE water lilies. Or the Rodin Museum where you can see The Thinker. Two of my new favorites are The Cluny with its fabulous tapestries and The Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before going to the guillotine. And, of course, my all time favorite, Sainte Chapelle.
I guess the bottom line is this: you don’t HAVE to go to the Louvre. It is spectacular…but chances are, you’re going to spend half your time there trying to find yourself on the map. And the one thing you don’t want to do in Paris is waste time. You can do that when you get home. 🙂