On any list of the highlights of Paris, the Louvre has got to come pretty close to the top.
I’d been saving the museum until I had a free weekend because I’d been told that you could spend two days there and not see all of it, so i made sure to arrive early enough to beat the crowds and have a full day wandering. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t have to queue use for tickets and used the self service machines (great if you’re short on time).
The Louvre is split into three wings, Dennon, Sully and Richelieu, all so huge you could spend a day in each. Because I’m in Paris a while longer and can go back easily, I decided not to plan my visit but just get lost in the galleries. If you’re on a quick visit though I’d suggest planning ahead and getting yourself a map so you can hit up the most famous exhibits.
First on my agenda was the Mona Lisa (or La Jaconde in French). I was there before 10 am so managed to get to the front of the throng of people vying for a good view, and got some great pictures. It’s hard to get really close because there’s a rope separating you from the painting by about 2 metres and she’s behind a sheet of glass in a temperature controlled box. Smaller than I was expecting but still wonderful.
After seeing the Mona Lisa I spent hours wandering round and getting completely lost in the Sully wing, which is filled with sculpture and Greek, Roman and ancient Egyptian artefacts. The mummies and their sarcophagi were impressive but I’m more interested in painting and managed to find my way back to 19th century Spanish art after a while lost in the Greeks.
After a while though I was starving and queued to get into Cafe Mollien, simply for the fact that it has a beautiful terrace that overlooks the Cour Napoleon and the Carrousel gardens. I had a filled croissant, which was okay – expensive but worth it for the view alone.
In all I spent about 5 hours in the Louvre, and although I saw the highlights (the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo etc) I feel that I only scratched the surface. An incredible experience and definitely worth a repeat visit.