Audio Tour locked and loaded!
Deciding where to start was the hard part. The audio tour recommended several options – a 2 hour “greatest hits” tour of the big ticket items, a random walkabout tour where you could punch in the exhibit numbers for a commentary, and a full guided A – Z tour.
Or you could just wing it.
There are approximately 38000 items on exhibit in this wonderful museum that take you from beyond ancient Egypt up to post French Revolution.
This link gives you a lot of useful info re visiting this wonderful museum and is well worth a look (also it saves me typing) —> Louvre Guide.
Now the problem with any of these options is that there are literally hundreds of people with these audio tour devices, doing the same tours, at the same time, at the same pace which equals big crowds at key points along the way. If you want to jostle your way to the front to get a nice pic of the Mona Lisa or the Venus De Milo then fine, but I was already tired of the crowds and I’d just walked in.
So I did the logical left handed thing and went the opposite way : essentially doing the audio tour backwards and manually. Surprisingly it mostly worked and I avoided the worst of the crowds and at some times had entire galleries to myself.
Starting in the Denon wing, I wandered through European sculptures and found myself lost in exquisite works by Michelangelo, Donatello and the other ninja turtles, and by the end of that I was completely adrift in time. Gone. Out to lunch.
I’m not even going to attempt to recap everything but wandering the Grand Gallery, examining works by Leonado da Vinci, Raphael, Gainsborough, Goya, Botticelli, Carravagio, Reubens, Rembrandt, Delacroix…other Spanish Masters, French Masters, Italian Masters…so many more all up close and personal – (my GOD the art is amazing) – and exploring the sub basements of the Louvre were my absolute faves.
Then dove into extensive Egyptian collections (more than even the Cairo museum and so well curated), artifacts from Africa and the Middle East, Islamic art, French Art, Near Eastern and Egyptian art, Italic and Etruscan antiquities, Roman, Greek, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
I’d walked many kilometers already and traveled thousands of years through time, but I hadn’t even scratched the surface. My mind was humming.
*heiroglyphs and their translations. This was apparently some junk mail.
*zombie animals!!!! I mean mummies of animals.
**zombies would have been so cool also.
*extensive papyrus collections. This was an early sext message.
*the finest sarcophagus collection I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a few now.
*ancient broken things.
*early hunting porn.
*french women – they also classify as a work of art just quietly. Dear sweet Lord, French women. It’s not ALL about the artworks people. Jeez.
*Archangel Michael vanquishing Satan – by Raphael – this was mesmerising and I stared at this for far too long. **This ones for Meg.
*a whole lot of dicks (better known as King Leonidis at Thermopylae). I did NOT stare at this for ages.
**Dicks and the naked male form are common themes in the Louvre. Be prepared for uneasy questions from the kiddies and uncomfortable silences from the spouse.
*more Goya than you can poke a stick at.
*some Rembrandt guy.
*a prolific Camille Corot. Seriously this chick churned out work.
*this lovely but overrated creature. The real one. I trampled an old lady to death to get this close.
*tourists doing stupid things in front of classic paintings – like re-enacting them while people are trying to appreciate them.
**MANY people wanted to hurt her badly this day.
***Her “Crucifixion of Christ” was flawless though.
*drunken party animal selfies from ye oldey days.
All these and so many religious artifacts, icons and artworks that even a hardcore athiest like myself started to believe in God. Almost.
But I’d barely gotten started, I was getting tired and dizzy (skipped breakfast to line up) as it was 2pm so I had a quick bite of lunch in the ground floor cafe: going for a tasty baguette, a bad coffee and some people watching for a while.
As luck would have it, the French President was touring that day and so the place was in lockdown for a short time over lunch as he toured parts of the building. An enforced 45 minute lunch break restored my equilibrium. 4 man Army patrols covered every entry and exit while other squads roamed the crowds. Snipers looked down on us from the top floors and every angle was covered by serious men with big guns.
So naturally I stepped up to the balcony, whipped a camera out of my bag without thinking and snapped off a few shots . Then I remembered the snipers, froze and quietly shat myself.
It’s not all about the art as I keep saying. There are tours of the Louvre itself, delving into the subbasements and the early history and construction of the complex from medieval fort to today.
Up above, there are Napoleons apartments, King Louie IV’s apartments, Marie Antoinette’s apartments, restored ballrooms, gilded dining halls, royal silver collections and snuff box collections and cameo collections, and every inch of the walls and ceilings covered in gold, exquisite artworks and antiquities from the ages.
There are so many beautiful works here though that the crowds largely ignore in favour of the big ticket items : The Winged Victory of Samothrace (below) is barely mentioned, as is The Virgin of the Rocks. The Dying Slave. Liberty leading the People. Orphan Girl at the Cemetary. So much more and right under your nose…and away from the crowds.
*The Winged Victory of Samothrace (or the Goddess Nike of Samothrace)
*A typical ceiling – always look up in the Louvre.
*Orphan Girl at the Cemetery by Delacroix
The big tickets items like Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo are always super crowded –
But there is so much more in this room and people just stream past most of it. Opposite the Mona Lisa is this, for example – you might recognise it.
*Yep its only the Last Freaking Supper. Mind blown.
**I’d hate to dust in this place.
or how about the Sword of Charlemagne!
Or how about Napoleons Chambers and Dining room (the highchair is up the back)
I stumbled out of Napoleons apartments 11 hours later with my mind completely overwhelmed by the wealth of history and art that I’d tried to cram into it over the day.
That’s right 11 hours – I exited at 9pm – and I hadn’t even come close to seeing everything let alone appreciating it all. I’d walked 17 kms according to my iPhone Health app and also had to change the little audio tour device over twice as I’d run 2 sets of batteries down.
So I guess the point I am trying to get across is that if you plan a trip to the Louvre, an hour just ain’t gonna cut it. Take your time and explore properly for at least a day if not 3 even. It so worth your time.
Exhausted and mentally drained I retreated to the hostel via Cafe Du Comedie for a red wine, a cigarette and then bed.
End of Day 1.