Before heading out to go see Le Louvre, we listened to our audio history on the Impressionists Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cassatt. We needed to get our art straight before heading into the massive Louvre. Outside of the metro station we marvelled at the Opera Garnier. We ended up near Champs-Élysées (shahns ay lee zay) which is at the very far end of the entrance to the museum. No problem, we had wanted to walk through the Tuileries (twee ler ee) Gardens anyway. France doesn’t do large until it comes to gardens and palaces. Halfway walking through it, I was wondering if the art would be worth it. What a trek! The peak of the famous pyramid started to show and we had arrived. On the advice of one of our friends, we had pre-purchased our tickets online and thank goodness we did! Ignoring the glares of hundreds of people in line just to get through security, we pranced through the door with smiles again.
It is shocking at how large Le Louvre actually is.
Most pictures online showcase the fancy, modern pyramid in the courtyard, leading most, or at least me, to believe that that was the bulk of the museum. The pyramid was an addition in the last four decades. What Le Louvre really is was a fortress turned palace for the king. With a tiny little pyramid in the center. Don’t misunderstand, it was all very beautiful and meshed quite well, but I want to get the size comparison across.
We headed up and in, excited and ready to take in some massive paintings including the largest painting in Le Louvre, “The Wedding Feast at Cana”. We were ready. After a lifetime in line for the bathrooms, we were ready. We opened our maps to see where we were and where we wanted to go and after that, we were ready. After bumping into each other and everyone else there who I secretly hoped were as lost and on the verge of frustration, we were ready. After realizing Cortnie and Hakim had downloaded maps on their phone with selected highlights so that way was not the right way, we were ready. After an hour of being in Le Louvre, we saw our first art piece…..not sure now what it was, I think at one point we had to just start walking up some stairs and hope the signs would lead us along our path. It was about this time that I put the two together….signage and French…..How come the signs on the walls were not matching with the maps, either paper or electronic? How come our electronic map said a Celtic shawl should be in this corner but that is a vase of some sort? What level are we on anyway? If we can just figure that out, we could match the staircase to the picture and then find our way to the right room with the next thing we want to see. Where do they write what level you’re on? Let’s ask. Basement? No, couldn’t be, look at the map. Are you sure? Ok. Cortnie had run into some past art teachers she had last year and they advised her that when going through art museums, don’t stop and read and contemplate everything. Simply walk through at a meandering pace, floating your eyes left to right and stop at what catches your eye. Good advice, I had been doing this without knowing it. But when six people are doing it too….Tired of walking through art we weren’t interested in and not being able to find the art we were, we, like many others, started making a beeline to the most famous paintings so we could also say we had been there and call the visit done. Where is that Mona Lisa? Look, a sign. (we hadn’t learned yet) So up we go, over here, over there, how did we get in Ancient Egyptian Art? Let’s ask. (we hadn’t learned that either, we will soon though). I don’t think that person who works here told us right. Maybe she’s bored and to have fun she sends people in wrong directions….Let’s have a snack next to this cafeteria. What? We can’t eat here? But there are people eating right over there on the other side of the rope. Fine, as we shove the rest of our snack in.
We did make it to Mona Lisa and we wormed our way to the front to get the picture. We saw the gigantic Wedding Feast and found the dogs. We didn’t get to see Napoleon’s Coronation, it was closed that day. On strike I guess. And Cortnie got to see, picture and ponder the statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo .
Fun fact Mona Lisa: The Mona Lisa was stolen from the museum in 1911 by an Italian man named Vincenzo Peruggia who believed that the painting belonged in Italy. Two years later he brought it to his homeland, presented it to the art curator who called the police. But within those two years of searching, people would come to visit the Louvre just to see where the painting used to hang. And now with it’s return, it has now become the most iconic, pictured painting. And not to knock art or skill, but comparatively, especially to the massive painting directly in front of her, it is kinda, bleh.
After the exhausting day at the Louvre, I made mention, “I think I like the Prado better than the Louvre.” Although it is funny to me that I can say that never thinking those words would ever come out of my mouth, it is true. So my friends, if you ever find yourself in or near Madrid, and are not sure about the Prado because of the overwhelm of the Louvre, just remember, not everyone struggles with signs and directions.