The Louvre – Art Fanatics Dream

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Before you start reading this post, I want to start out by saying that I am NOT at all interested in art or art history. So you may be wondering why I would even bother visiting the Louvre Art Museum in Paris? Well, I think the simple answer to this is that it is ‘the Louvre’ – need I say anymore!! If you are ever going to visit a museum to experience the works of historical artists such as Da Vinci et al, then the Louvre is probably ‘the’ museum you will want to see.

The Louvre

The Louvre is an amazing piece of architectural mastery in itself and that is even before you enter the doors of the Pyramid to gain access to historical masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa. The exterior of the Louvre is extremely impressive and you can spend some time just wandering around the grounds and looking in awe at the architecture that has gone into the design of not only the museum but also Napoleon’s former residence on that wing.

Once you enter inside the pyramid and descend into the basement to purchase your tickets, you begin to realize the scope and magnitude of the Louvre’s size. I can honestly say that I never thought I would spend over 3 hours in a art museum but that is the reality of what we did as we tried to see as much of the Louvre as possible.

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There are three wings inside the Louvre, all of which contain very different pieces of art ranging from Egyptian and Greek sculptures to those infamous paintings:

  • the Richelieu (after Armand Richelieu, 17th Century French statesman, cardinal and monarchist)
  • the Sully (after Maximilien Sully, 17th Century French statesman)
  • the Denon (after Dominique Denon, 18th Century French illustrator, scientist and author).

There were many aspects of the museum that I have to openly admit I was a little bored with, probably because of my lack of knowledge and appreciation of these works of art.

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However, I did enjoy seeing the Mona Lisa or ‘La Joconde’ in person and I was very surprised by the size of the painting. I was expecting something more substantial but just being in the same room as the most famous painting in the world is a pretty good feeling. Added to this the security in that room and the fact that this was the only painting behind what I figured was bulletproof glass.

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The final wing we visited was the former residence of Napoleon. The majestic décor throughout of all the rooms was clearly visible but I think the most interesting room was his bedroom which housed a bed that appeared to be not much more than 5ft in length, chairs lined up to the left of the bed which were likely for his security, and an abundance of grandeur scattered on the walls and mantelpiece.

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I am not going to go into details of everything you can see in the Louvre Museum; rather I would encourage you to experience this for yourself. Admission prices are certainly reasonable because you can easily spend at least half a day in the museum and probably miss several areas.

Do you enjoy visiting art museums?

Have you visited the Louvre and if so, what are your opinions (positive/negative)?

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Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]

19 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a good while since I last visited the Louvre but, the paintings that remain etched in my mind (other than the Mona Lisa of course) are the ones you’ve photographed. I forget who they were by but I remember (like yourself, not particularly being an art aficionado!) being briefly transfixed by those pictures and how cleverly pieced together they were, with bits of fruit, flowers, vegetation, etc. I can’t remember precisely, but am I correct in thinking there was more than just those four?

    • Paul, I think those paintings you are referring to in the picture are by Arcimboldo, an Italian painter who I guess just loves doing things a little different! But it works and as you correctly pointed out, it is something that you will remember. I have to admit that a lot of the paintings inside the Louvre are very similar, that is probably because of my lack of appreciation but those fruit and veg paintings are just something memorably different. There were several of these works in part of the Louvre in addition to more of his ‘standard’ paintings I believe. Uniqueness will always win over visitors though right!

  2. If I get the chance to go to Paris some day, the Louvre will certainly be on my list of places to visit.
    It is my understanding that if you go there at certain times there is a huge crowd around the Mona Lisa. This doesn’t bother me because I think that it is over-rated and is not necessarily da Vinci’s best painting, although it is surely the most famous.I did not know that a portion of the Louvre was Napoleon’s former residence. Based on your photo and description, this is a portion of the Louvre that I would be interested in seeing.
    Also, I would do some research before going to determine which wing holds the art that I would be most interested in viewing.

    • Lee, I certainly agree with you that in hindsight we would have done a little more research on the actual layout of the Louvre and probably focused our attention solely on those spots that caught our interest. However, exploring all of the museum and catching a glimpse is probably more appropriate for us given that our interest levels in art are not sufficient enough to warrant spending a lot of time focusing on one painting or artist.

      The Mona Lisa was a cool experience I have to admit. The crowds were not too bad when we visited but we went there during the week which probably helped keep the numbers down. Of course everyone wants to see Da Vinci’s most infamous painting but you are right that there are many others that receive less media attention but are equally as good.

      I would definitely recommend the Louvre to anyone visiting Paris, even if it is just to say you have been there!!

  3. I’ve visited Paris a few times but I’ve never been inside the Louvre, shameful I know. I do like looking round museums and art galleries but I have a short attention span for such things. I’d rather stay a little while and then return again to see a little more, than do it all in one sitting.
    This peep inside the Louvre is wonderful and has really caught my attention. I didn’t even know about the final wing. Hopefully I’ll be back in Paris again before too long and will be able to see the Mona Lisa (and the memorable fruity paintings) among other things, for myself.
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    • Thanks for your kind comments Kathryn. The Louvre really does have it all and I have to admit that it certainly lives up to its reputation. We are all familiar with the media coverage that it receives, in particular that of the Mona Lisa and the first thing I noticed when I saw this particular painting was how small it was in comparison to what I imagined. As I have mentioned several times, I am anything but an art expert so can’t comment on the specifics on any of the paintings in terms of their inner meanings or how the artist was feeling at the time of producing the masterpiece, but what I can say is that anyone at all will learn to appreciate the time and effort that goes into this.

      I am with you that attention span is not one of my strong points so heading into the Louvre I was highly skeptical thinking that I would get bored pretty quickly. Yes, there are spots that I had very little interest in but seeing those really famous paintings and also exploring the Napoleon Wing was really a cool experience that was worth the entrance fee alone!

  4. The Louvre is quite something as you say. For four years until 2012 I was working in Paris and commenting there every week and stayed most weeks at the Hotel Du Louvre just opposite and so had the luxury of being able to work my way around it in more manageable slits of time as it is all bait overwhelming and you get blasé about all the art in there! I agree with your thoughts and comments on the Mona Lisa. Most people seem to go there for only one reason which is being able to say they have seen it…
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    • Gary, you must have been very fortunate to be in that part of Paris for so long. We really enjoyed our experience at the Louvre but more importantly I think is the museums location in relation to other key landmarks. Situated right on the River Seine it is within easy walking distance of the Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame and really not too far from the Eiffel Tower. Combine all of this together and you get the perfect tourist attraction right.

      I am sure locals probably get tired of all the media hype that the Louvre receives, just like us Brits are the same with Buckingham Palace but I really do believe that hype is worth it for this art museum. I know for a fact I don’t appreciate art the way I probably should, my concentration levels are not high enough to understand exactly what went into these works of art. Maybe I fall into that category of just going there to say that I have seen it but I know that I would love to go back there sometime and maybe take a little more time with certain exhibits that interested me more than others.

  5. Just came back from my 2nd visit to Paris. And the thought of Paris, Louvre and the night lights still linger in my mind. I did visit the Louvre the first time and loved it, but felt it was a bit overrated just because of Monalisa painting. I also visited a couple of other museums in Paris like Musee de Orsay which too had amazing art collections.

  6. This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to visiting The Louvre. Paris just isn’t on my list of top places to visit. But I do love art and am glad I got this sneak peek into the museum through your eyes. Is there any modern art on display?

  7. I´m also not really arty although I love the strange art-pieces. Did you notice that they have some painting in the Louvre where someone stabs another someone with a knife, one even in a head of a person? There are plenty of those throughout the Louvre =) Oh I love those pieces and then I start wondering – what on earth was up with this painter? I couldn´t care less about the Mona Lisa, it is not interesting at all to me. The other strange paintings however are. Just like the skull smoking a cigarette painted by Van Gogh – so different from all his work and so strange, definitely my favourite painting of him (not in the Louvre though). I loved the Louvre. It´s also more than just paintings of course =)

    Great post!

  8. I am not a huge lover of Art either but when we visited Paris last year this was automatically added to the list. Why? Because…how could you got to Paris and not visit the Louvre? It astounded me that hundreds of people literally pushed others out of the way to see, if only for a split second, the Mona Lisa but seemed to be void of all emotion for the wonderful paintings surrounding it. In the day we wandered around we only visited one half – meaning next time we visit Paris we will have to explore the second half of this maze. 🙂
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  9. I have been to Paris and the Louvre several times, and still haven’t seen just a tiny part of it. It’s an enormous art complex, and it is much better to select just a small part to avoid an overwhelming experience. I prefer museums more focused on one artist or one era (like the Musée D’Orsay in Paris exhibiting mainly impressionist works), but the Louvre both as a piece of history (being the former residence of French kings) and a museum is a must visit!
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    • Completely agree with you Gabor! I know that if we visited the Louvre again, we would likely focus on just one wing rather than everything so that we could learn more about certain artists and different painting/sculpture styles.

      We didn’t have time to visit the Musée D’Orsay but this was on our list of places we wanted to visit – hopefully next time!

    • Thanks for the kind comments! It is just somewhere you have to visit even if your interest levels in art/art history are not particularly high.

  10. I love art museums and try to visit at least one wherever I go. It’s been nearly 20 years since I was last in the Louvre and I’d love to go again and see everything with fresh eyes. I only remember the Mona Lisa and the Egyptian wing – would love to take a peek inside Napoleon’s bedroom!
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