Other than going to Notre Dame in the morning, I allocated the rest of my day to venturing into the abyss of art and history known as the Louvre. It was a Friday, so I didn’t need to rush myself since the museum closed at 9:45 PM that day. It closes at 9:45 PM on Wednesdays too, but every other day, except Tuesdays when the museum isn’t open, the Louvre closes at 6 PM. I didn’t buy my ticket online because I wanted to have an actual ticket stub from the museum, so I ended up waiting in this long line for maybe 45 minutes to an hour. If that doesn’t matter to you, then definitely buy online because those people just breezed on through.
An adult ticket costs €15 (~$16.67 USD) and you can get an audioguide for €5 (~$5.56 USD). I think this is a good time to mention how much easier it was to work with euros since the exchange rate was near equal to the dollar during my trip. If something was €7, then I knew that it was around $7. In London, figuring out what £7 equalled to required a little more work.
I actually got my audioguide at the concessions price of €3 because the lady who looked at my ID saw that I was born in 1989 and just assumed that I was 25. Anyone 25 and under can get the concessions price, but I had actually turned 26 a few weeks before. I didn’t correct her. To pick up the audioguide, you have to leave some form of identification. Apparently, I’m from the nation of California now.
Four paragraphs in and you are probably waiting for me to get to the actual art, but I have to talk a little bit more about the audioguide because it’s just so cool. The audioguide is a Nintendo 3DS XL! It includes an interactive map that you can use to find certain art pieces or see where you are in the museum. Of course, it also has your typical audioguide functions, but you can see some things in 3D or zoom into paintings to look a little closer. That partnership between Nintendo and Louvre is so smart and I’d love to see this implemented in other museums since it made working an audioguide a little more fun.
Okay, now for the art. The museum is split up into three main wings: Denon, Sully, and Richelieu. Before going to the Louvre, I created a list of art in the museum that I definitely wanted to see and there was actually one close by. Thus, I headed into the Sully wing in search of one of the world’s most famous statues.
Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820 on the Greek island of Milos and was named after the goddess of love. Because it is Greek, it should actually be called the Aphrodite de Milo, since Venus is the Roman name for the goddess. The sculpture is dated to about 120 BC and it is made of marble. It’s also one of the sculptures you can get for your town’s museum in Animal Crossing.
I stuck around to look a little at the Greek and Roman antiquities in the surrounding rooms. Unfortunately, unless a piece is featured or given a lot of significance, it most likely won’t have an English translation of its description available.
From there, I moved on to Egyptian antiquities, which includes the Great Sphinx of Tanis, the largest sphinx outside of Egypt.
And then there were the Near Eastern antiquities.
And then I got hungry. I had only traversed through part of the ground floor exhibits, but I wanted to make sure that I ate and took it easy so that I wouldn’t feel too overwhelmed.
After regaining some energy, I stopped by the Cour Puget and the Cour Marty, two courtyards in the Richelieu wing that stretch between the ground floor and the lower ground floor. The courtyards showcase French sculpture and there is a great glass roof above that brings in a lot of sunlight. This seemed to be the place to be for art students practicing their sketching.
On the first floor, there are the Napoleon III apartments which feature decorative art from the Second Empire. The rooms are very opulent, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
At this point, I just decided to breeze through the rest of the galleries and focus on seeing the rest of the items that I really wanted to see. The closest one to me was another famous sculpture that was also featured in Animal Crossing.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace was discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace and now stands in the Daru staircase on the first floor of the Louvre’s Denon wing. It’s another marble sculpture depicting a Greek goddess, Nike the goddess of victory. A restoration effort in 2014 found traces of color on the wings and clothes of the statue, showing that it had probably been originally painted.
Next up, I figured it was time to make the journey to see the most famous painting in the museum and, quite possibly, the world. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci was believed to have been painted sometime around 1503 to 1519. It’s not a very big painting, but there is a barrier keeping the public from getting a closer view. Though there is still debate as to who is actually depicted in the painting, the Louvre’s website seems pretty sure that it is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a merchant named Francesco del Giocondo. This gives the painting its Italian title — La Gioconda.
I don’t know if I have ever hated people more than when I was in the mass of folks trying to get a good glimpse of this painting. It’s probably a pickpocket’s dream since there are so many people packed tightly against one another. Some people actually pushed their way through and that was annoying. I got to the front after patiently waiting for people to move, so it’s possible, people, it’s possible!
There was one more painting that I really wanted to see and, frankly, I think it was more impressive to look at than the Mona Lisa. A few rooms away was Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, painted in 1830. The painting depicts the July Revolution of 1830 with a representation of Liberty carrying the flag of the French Revolution. Both the Mona Lisa and Liberty Leading the People are two more pieces of art that are featured in Animal Crossing.
With that, I completed my list and decided that I still had the energy to go through a few more galleries at a leisurely pace. I saw some interesting things, but nothing quite as interesting as this painting called Gabrielle d’Estrées and Her Sister. The painting depicts a naked Gabrielle and, for some odd reason, her sister is naked too and pinching Gabrielle’s nipple. The audioguide said some people think that this might be a reference to lactation and motherhood. Not much is really known about the painting otherwise.
Having covered much of the museum already, it was time to finally head out. I believe that I had spent around five hours there, but I feel like anything less than three is not enough. It probably is better experienced spread out over more than one day, but I didn’t have the time or the money to go several days in a row.
It was starting to get dark when I made it outside, but it was still around 7 PM so I didn’t want to head back to my hostel just yet. I didn’t know of any other place that would be be busy at night, other than the Champs-Élysées, so I continued my adventures there.