Ah, the Louvre, the quintessential attraction in Paris. Since my time in Paris was limited, I didn't have the luxury of sleeping in like a bum (like I try to do on vacations), I had to get up and hit the museum early. JB was the smart one and found that the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of each month (which is when we would be there). Obviously the museum would be absolutely crazy on a free day, so dillydallying until noon would not be ideal.
We got up at 08h00 and planned on being at the Louvre shortly before it opened (like my plan for Versailles, that didn't quite work out as planned). We were out of the hotel by 08h45 heading to the Metro (which was closed, interestingly enough). We grabbed a pain au chocolat and an jus d'orange and waited for the bus, which would take us directly to the Louvre. Like the Metro, the bus arrived very quickly (not at all like I'm use to in the US) and we had to toss our breakfast in the trash and hop on the bus. The bus ride took 15 minutes and we were there.
The line was quite long at 09h10, but the guidebook and several friends told us not to enter through the main door, go through the side door - the Porte des Lions. I thought this was too good to be true. We skipped the long line of people standing in the rain and headed 200 meters into the grounds and found the entrance -- with no one in line. Was this all a scam? We entered the outer doors, went through the metal detectors, bought tickets and were in. IT WORKED! This entrance isn't open on Fridays, but it is every other day -- even the free day.
I hate being a standard American tourist, but I had a handful of things I wanted to see and I wanted to hit them early and guarantee I didn't miss the major things. I immediately went to visit Mona Lisa -- we got there so early, there were less than 2 dozen people in the room with us and her. It was great to see her and to get up close and personal, but I must admit it was a bit anti-climactic. I've been waiting a long time to see this piece of art and it was amazing, but not the knee quaking jaw dropping spectacle I thought it would be. Perhaps I am too jaded and cynical.
From Mona we moved on to Winged Victory. So many people were around taking pictures and demanding no one was in or near them when then were snapping pics. That's just outrageous. I'm not going to stand off to one side for 20 minutes waiting to cross the room because you want a picture of you 10 month old in a stroller at the foot of Winged Victory.
The other areas I wanted to see was the Middle Ages area and both MS and I wanted to see Spanish Paintings. I also wanted to see the history of the Louvre, in the basement. We saw some of the items we saw at Versailles, which looked more impressive here than at the palace. We had a small break for pastries and juice after we saw the Middle Ages and the Spanish items then we headed back down to the basement for the history -- at this point the museum was absolutely full of patrons. It was uncomfortably full. We realized that this wasn't working for us and we'd just have to see the historical pieces another time and we got the hell out of there.
It was about 12h30 now by the time we got out of the museum and headed to take some more pictures outside. I must say, visiting the Louvre was great -- something that everyone must do while in Paris. My advice, you must make a plan before you go. You won't have time to look at everything, but you must do more than the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory (which are very close to each other). Pick a section and spend time admiring the art. You must also enter through the Porte des Lions -- it's worth it to get up early and enter in the door without a line. It's a great thing...do it!
When at the Louvre, what is your go to piece of art? Do you visit the Louvre on every visit to Paris or are you a one and done visitor? What other Louvre secrets do you have that I am not aware of?