Frustratingly difficult to find the amazing masterpieces!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by RLB2 on August 16, 2011

I'll begin this review by saying that, one, I am not really an art connoisseur of art, but I know what I like. Two, I don't speak french and three, I'm not the best person with a map. If you combine all of these things together you get one frustrated tourist and one annoyed friend in the Musee du Louvre.

Now having said that we did get round and see all of the masterpieces eventually but I did find the process quite stressful, to the point that I was wondering whether it was worth it. We had read all the advice about visiting the Louvre, including arrive early, don't try and get round everything, just try and do a small section etc etc. We were in Paris in April and we had purchased something called a Paris Pass, which meant that our entry to the Louvre was included and we had a queue jumper.

We arrived at the Louvre around 9.30am and wandered into the central courtyard (the one with the pyramids made famous by the movie The Da Vinci Code). We had walked straight past one line of people but then noticed that there was another across the courtyard. So after asking we found that the first line was in fact the queue jumping was longer than the other line. Anyway we got in without too much hassle and then we were presented with another problem...the map. I had real difficulty with the map, it wasn't that easy to figure out where everything was and then when we had worked it out it wasn't very easy to navigate around the place. Things were not signposted very well and we did end up going in circles a few times. The other problem we had was that some parts of the museum were closed off for various works and finding an alternative route was almost impossible. It took us almost 30 minutes to find the most famous painting in the place, the Mona Lisa (or La Jaconde)!!

The Louvre is massive and there really is no way that you are going to get around everything in one day, and you won't enjoy anything if you try. The day we were there it was pretty busy with Chinese and Japanese tourists in very big groups. We decided to just try and find the main exhibits that were marked on the free map, so it would give us a nice overview of the main exhibits. This included the Mona Lisa, The Seated Scribe, the Nike of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo. We also had a good look around the Egyptian, Roman and Greek areas. The art itself is outstanding, amazing, beautiful, intriguing and a whole host of other things. Your own opinion of the various pieces will probably differ from mine, but I don't think that anyone can disagree that the setting that they are all in is magnificent. The Louvre was a palace and you can really imagine what it was like when it was first built. Wandering around some of the less popular galleries was pretty amazing. Outside too the architecture was fabulous, to the point that I couldn't quite believe that I was there.

My top tips for a visit to the Louvre are:
1) Arrive early, possibly before it opens to ensure you are the first in and can get to where you want to go first.

2) Avoid the advertised top exhibits, they will invariably be packed and you'll just end up not enjoying the experience.

3) If you want to go and see the postage stamp sized Mona Lisa, by all means do, and when you are getting stressed about the crowds pushing and disappointed because of the size, turn around and feast your eyes on the Marriage at Cana, I promise you will not be disappointed.

4) If you want more than a stroll around the museum looking at the various works of art, then purchase an audio guide from the desk as you walk in. Unless you speak and read french very well they really are a must have.

5. Wear comfy shoes that have grip on their soles, my friend wore sandles and spent the whole day slipping around on the marble floors.

6) Finally, don't try and do it all, you will not manage it and leave feeling frustrated and grumpy, just choose a section and enjoy. Think of it as an excuse to visit Paris another time!
Musée du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France, 75001
+33 (1) 40 20 51 51

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