There are three main art museums in Paris: the Louvre, which houses “very old art” (the technical term), including some superfamous statues and the world’s most overrated painting; the Musee D’Orsay, which has “medium old” art, like impressionists; and the Pompidou Center, which has modern art and deserves a post of its own…let me just say that it was built as a work of modern art itself, so all the pipes and whatnot are on the outside. This defies typical building convention, and, surprise surprise, apparently it is difficult to maintain.
The Boyfriend and I hit up the Louvre on free day, which is the first Sunday of every month, and I expected it to be kind of a nightmare crowd-wise, but it was not. Here’s my supersecret tips to navigating the Louvre, especially if you have limited time:
1. Go on free day. Save that money! The crowds aren’t that bad!
2. Start at the Place de la Concorde by the other end of the Tuileries. Even in January, it was nice to wander down through the gardens toward the museum.
But beware the pigeon man. Steer clear. No one needs 5000 birds surrounding them.
3. Spend the money you would have used on admission on food at the Paul food cart, outside by the arch. It’s so good. We had these apricot and creme anglaise pastries and my life will never be the same, and I had a coffee which I ordered in French so it ended up being something that translated to “white American,” which turns out means an Americano with milk.
4. After you finish your amazing French food, head off to the left. Do not go to the pyramid, however tempting it may be. Instead, go down the stairs that look like a subway stop and into the mall that’s underneath the museum.
Yep, it’s a little weird to have a mall underneath a museum, but convenient!
Pro tip: free wifi at the Apple store (and Starbucks…but really? Starbucks in Paris?).
Take your DaVinci code photos by the inverted pyramid and head inside through your newfound secret mall entrance, where you should immediately get a map.
5. Do not plan to see everything. You are setting yourself up to fail. Instead, pick a couple of pieces or periods that you’d like to see and head there first, and that way everything else you encounter will be a nice bonus.
6. The Mona Lisa. Ahhhh.
It’s always crowded.
It’s always crowded by tall people taking innumerable photos at the very front.
It’s surprisingly small.
Instead, turn around and take in the pleasantly large painting on the wall behind you, which is my favorite in the whole Louvre. It depicts the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus did his first miracle.
7. Most of all, enjoy yourself! After the museum, it was getting dark outside so we had a nice sunset stroll along the Seine as we walked up to the Eiffel Tower.