Losing it in the Louvre

And for my first post from La France… yeah I’m going to have a whine. And it’s all very hypcritical of me really because basically I am bemoaning tourism in 2017 despite clearly being a tourist myself. But I have to be honest, the experience of visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris, probably the most famous museum in the entire world, is a little bit, well, shit.

And it’s not that the exhibitions and the building are in anyway, as I said, ‘shit’, not at all. It’s still an incredible collection of paintings, works, historical artefacts housed in an insanely beautiful and unimaginably large palace. But. It’s the prime example of what it’s like to visit a prime tourist site in 2017. 

The weather was hot and sticky, and that certainly didn’t help. It was the end of May, so the tourist season was just ramping up but it’s still pre-holidays and it’s not at it’s absolute height either. I wondered if winter would be a better time to visit Paris. Cold, yes of course it would be, but would there be significantly less people? 

Under the pyramid. This photo does not really reflect the crowds. But this is your first sight as you enter the Louvre from above.

I bought the tickets for my wife and I online. This defititely saved times. 45 minutes they said the line for tickets was when we exited the Metro. Just a short line up for bag check before we entered. And the entrance hall was huge. And then we get the map of the place. Very little information on the map which was very hard to orientate too.

And join the swarms of people. Moving fast past every piece, every painting, many listening to the audio guides which I don’t really buy into. There’s always a little information available on a plaque (helps if you can read a bit of French in this instance) and honestly, I wouldn’t retain any of it anyway. 

Can you guess the painting everyone is gathering to see?

The Mona Lisa. It is really the reason so many people go to the Louvre. And you can’t miss it when you get there, because it has the biggest swarm of any museum I have ever seen. To take a photo of the people looking at it was genuinely more interesting than the woman with no eyebrows. To get close you HAVE to push your way through. I stood in the middle of the crowd as I have a decent lens so I don’t need to go so close, but then people zip in front of me and push me back. And yes, everyone bar me wants a picture of the painting with themself in it apparently. Selfie sticks to the ready.

Not just works of art, the Louvre holds many historical artefacts.
Look, I’m guilty of every traveller crime with a camera bar being selfie mad. Even in the Louvre I took plenty of photos. But I think I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t allowed to take any photos. I don’t know what a rule like that would do to the volume of people coming through. But it might change the way people act and respond to where they are.

The crowds are not restricted to viewing the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is the Denon wing of the museum, which is pretty much packed everywhere. Even the staircases are covered in people. 

Having said all that, if you go back into the Sully wing/exhibit right into the furthest back corner of the museum, there are much less people around, and none of the big groups are there. I saw painters practicing their art which was nice. 

Napoleon Hall.
I also loved the Napoleon Hall which was grand and beautiful and full of gold trimmings. The way the exhibits have been arranged and presented is magnificent and if you could have the place to yourself and just say a thousand others, well, it would be brilliant. Alas, it was hot, sweaty, crowded and unpleasant. But that’s travel in 2017 I guess, it’s not limited to the Louvre! In fact, I felt the streets of London were even more crowded that Paris, and the British Museum was just as crowded as the Louvre. 

Perhaps it’s time to change the way I – maybe we – travel. Exactly how I’m not sure. I guess stick to out of the way places? And so Turkmenistan is high on the list of places to go…
May the Journey Never End!!

9 thoughts on “Losing it in the Louvre

  1. I visited the Louvre one or two times back when I was living in Paris. Off-season, weekday, probably early or late in the day… the lines were okay. The Mona Lisa was crowded but I wasn’t that impressed with it anyway. And I heard a rumor it’s not even the real one? Anyway, I know what you mean about the crowds! The line to the Notre Dame was horrible, though luckily there was an ice cream stall nearby so it wasn’t that bad 😋 My worst tourist crowd experience was either Iguazu falls (Argentine side) or the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican – all I could see in the chapel were the t-shirts of other tourists. Like a herd, we moved steadily along the corridors – you had no choice. No way to do it at your own pace. I saw glimpses of the decorated ceiling, that’s it!

    1. I was on the Brazillian side for Iguazu. It was pretty crowded but I was in such a hurry I don’t think I noticed just how crowded. Not the real one you say? Somehow I think I heard that too… still I think there’s a new kind of tourism coming and that’s where you go somewhere to look at how many tourists there are there doing their strange things. Well, I think it could become a thing…

  2. Hmmm I totally understand what you mean… the Lourve is quite big and difficult to manage anyway, and then to have the hordes of people taking selfies in front of artwork… But then again, I’m sure they curse my presence there too :/

  3. I think this post, though about some art museum, sorta sums up Paris. I only go through it to somewhere else (train change) – it’s always crowded. However, like other monstrous cities, when off the main tourist track on some of those small back streets, things change. Prices plummet and the people could care less that you may be a tourist. I had a nice hour on such a street a couple years ago, drinking a cup of (not very good) coffee and chatting with the proprietor before heading back to Gare Montparnasse for a train to the Basque Country.

    1. mmmm I’m not a coffee drinker but my wife is and she wasn’t so impressed with Parisian coffee. But you’re right, even in a city like Paris there are hidden little places where the real Paris still lives.

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