One of the first things that I learned when I picked up all my passes at the Big Bus information office was that the Louvre required a reservation. The museum is always busy so making a reservation online is highly suggested. For general admission or special exhibits check here. Since I had a museum pass I picked a time slot and filled out the forms here. Because I was so tired rather than make my reservation at 9am like I had planned I made it for 9:30am. I didn’t have any difficulty getting the date or time I wanted, which is lucky. I also was in Paris during the off season. I was sent an e-mail with the information for my pass and then I screenshot it so that I could show it to the guards when I arrived. I highly suggest doing this just to make your life easier. You enter via the glass pyramid.
My plan for my second full day in Paris included cramming three museums into one day. So I had a goal of just seeing the highlights in the Louvre. Anything else I managed to see would be a bonus. The main goal was to, of course, find the Mona Lisa. But first, because I’d gotten such a late start and then felt rushed to be at the Louvre exactly at 9:30 so I wouldn’t miss my spot I hadn’t eaten. So within the Louvre I popped into a cafe right before going through with my museum pass and quickly ate a brioches suisses which was absolutely delightful. Brioches suisses is a french bread (brioche) with chocolate chips and vanilla custard in the middle. There wasn’t any seating within the cafe but there was some seating outside of it under a pillar with tables every couple of feet. So I sat there to eat my breakfast before going through with my museum pass to enter the actual Louvre. I felt the same sort of rush that I felt when trying to get into Harry Potter at USJ the first time.
While some highlights are included on the map so you can easily make a goal of what to see, others are not. On my way to find the Mona Lisa I ran into a couple famous statues.
First was the Venus de Milo or Aphrodite from 100 BC which is located in the Sully wing on the ground floor in the Parthenon room (room 346).
Then in one of the stair cases on my way to the Mona Lisa I found the Winged Victory of Samothrace which is thought to be from 190 BC and is located in the Denon Wing on the ground floor in the staircase (room 703).
If you’re lost and looking for it just ask because the “gallery” it’s in is the Winged Victory of Samothrace stairwell.
Mona Lisa is an Italian painting also known as Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was located in the Denon wing on the first floor in the Mona Lisa Room (room 711) Please note that sometimes it moves.
You don’t get much time with the Mona Lisa. It’s probably one of the most popular paintings in the Louvre, let alone maybe THE most popular part of the Louvre in general. To deal with crowds they’ve created a line with two entrances, you can either go up to the left or you can go up to the right and then security will give you a couple minutes to take a few photos before sending you on your way. While the rest of the Louvre is set up so you can sit and take in the paintings and sculptures due to the large amount of people who want to see Mona Lisa it is not possible. In the grand scheme of things when I visited it probably wasn’t that busy. The line didn’t spill out past at least half way through the winding ropes they’d made for the queue.
The Louvre actually doesn’t insure the Mona Lisa. And no one knows how much it’s worth. It’s one of the world’s most famous paintings and instead the Louvre puts it’s money towards protection for it. The Mona Lisa has been stolen, someone’s tried to graffiti it and someone else has tried to throw a rock at it. Security seems to be a better idea then insuring it anyway.
Because I was in the area, an area of vast paintings I decided to stop and taken in July 28. Liberty Leading the People a painting I remember seeing often in my high school French classes. the painting is by Eugène Delacroix and is located in the department of paintings near Mona Lisa. No matter how many times I saw it in my French book or online I never realized just how massive of a painting it was.
After checking out a couple other giant paintings in the area I stopped at the in-Louvre cafe for a special Louvre tea called thé du Louvre Côté Cour: Courtyard tea. The little pouch the tea came in was quite pretty and the area around The Café Mollien was beautiful.
If you’re there I highly suggest trying to get a window seat. They’re the most popular and even though the cafe wasn’t busy all of those seats were taken when I visited. They have a stunning view and during the summer the terrace is open so you can enjoy your drink or snacks outside while enjoying the view of Cour Napoléon and the garden.
After a nice tea break I went off in search of more art. My main goals were to see The Coronation of Napoleon , Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, and The Lamassu.
The Coronation of Napoleon, also known as The Coronation of the Emperor Napoleon I and the Crowning of the Empress Joséphine in Notre-Dame Cathedral on December 2, 1804 was quite easy to find. It was painted by Jacques-Louis David and is located in the Denon Wing on the first floor in Daru, room 702.
The painting was mentioned on the tour of Versailles, about how the painting was requested done by Napoleon with some subtle changes. Some things including his mother who refused to attend being painted in the background. It shows Napoleon crowning his wife as Empress after being crowned himself.
The Lamassu was also quite easy to find though a bit further away. They’re located in the Richelieu wing on the ground floor in the Mesopotamia, Assyria Khorsabad section in room 229.
The Lamassu are protective genies that guard entrances in Dur Sharrukin which is now in modern day Khorsabad, northern Iraq. These creatures are part man, part bird and part bull and known as shedu or lamassu.
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss however I had an awful time trying to find. The reason why is because the museum is broken up into three main wings. The Richelieu, Sully, and Denon. I had gone down to the ground floor on the Richelieu side and thought I was crossing through Sully and into Denon, but in reality what I was doing was walking in circles around a statue courtyard in the 200’s rooms of the Richelieu. It took me awhile to figure it out. Too long. Embarrassingly too long. I didn’t realize the grey space in the center of Richelieu map was a courtyard. I thought it was the main one with the pyramid. And I couldn’t figure out how to cross over. It was very frustrating. I’ve circled on the map of the ground floor below the area in which I kept walking in circles.
Eventually I asked security for directions and they told me I had to leave and re-enter. Apparently you can do that, at least twice. So I popped out, went back into the main lobby, scanned for the Denon wing and went back in.
I think in other areas and on other floors it’s easy to travel between the three wings, but for some reason when I got down to the ground floor I had an awful time of it. But I did eventually find Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss which is located in the Denon wing on the ground floor in the Michelangelo gallery in room 403.
I saw a lot of other really cool things as I rushed around. I’ll make sure to list the wing, level, and room number for each of them if you click on the image or below it.
I think the Louvre is massive. The way you’re suppose to enjoy art is to sit with it and take it in, but I think because of the Louvre if there’s a lot you want to see in a short period of time it makes it difficult. I think because I was also trying to run around on my Museum pass before it expired I felt extra pressure to rush, which isn’t the way you’re suppose to enjoy a museum let alone art. If you have more time I think it’ll be better.
My favorite part of the museum was really seeing other people enjoying it. The amount of artists I saw camped out in the Louvre sketching the sculptures just instilled something warm and fuzzy in me. I wanted to grab a notebook and join them, like I did in my high school art trips. But I just felt like there was no time.
The Louvre is open from Wednesday through Monday. They are closed on Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. On Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays they are open from 9am until 6pm. On Wednesdays and Fridays they are open from 9am until 9:45pm. Double check online that they are open and their hours before you go. When I went the strikes were happening so they warned that some rooms/galleries might be closed and that the museum might close early. It’s considered fastest to book your tickets online ahead of time and to arrive in the morning.
Attached to the Louvre is also a mall like area called Carrousel du Louvre. There’s a food court here with a McDonalds and various other restaurants as well as shopping. I grabbed a late lunch here, debating between different things because all I needed/wanted to do was find a corner to sit in and charge my wifi buddy because it had died suddenly. (The fuse at my hotel had blown for all my outlets so nothing had charged, I didn’t realize it until that night) I wandered around the food court trying to decide what I should get. I felt like I had to get French food, even though there were other options and it had a long line. The McDonalds had more available seating and less of a wait and while McDonalds tends to be better in any country outside of the U.S. it felt like a bad choice for my limited amount of time in France. I hadn’t even scratched the surface of my dream food list.
So I got in line, looked at what they had and ordered a quiche lorraine. It came with a salad that I didn’t particularly want but couldn’t turn down because it was a set. It only came with one type of dressing, an oil and balsamic dressing that needed to be shaken up. They took it off the bar and popped my quiche back into an oven to reheat. During my trip I had two quiche lorraines, both had to be reheated and came inexplicably with a side salad with the same oil and balsamic dressing. This was the better of the two.
The Carrousel du Louvre is open Wednesday through Monday from 10am until 8pm. On Tuesdays they are open from 11am until 7pm.