My last day in Paris was absolutely packed. I was determined to see a much as possible, as I had no idea that I would be returning in July.
I had been planning on tackling the Louvre on this day ever since I knew I was going to Paris. Unlike the Musée d’Orsay, it hadn’t been a dream of mine to visit the famous museum, but I felt like it was a necessary destination for any wannabe artist. Now, after having experienced the grandeur of it for myself, I know it is one of my absolutely places in France. I’m thinking about going back in July, to try and see just a little more of the Louvre’s huge collection.
My trip to the Louvre could only be described as action-packed. I ran from one place to the other, skipping huge chunks in order to try and see the specific sections that interested me. Honestly, everything in the museum interested me, but that’s beside the point.
I truly had no idea that it would be so very enormous, so walking in was a bit of a shock for me. For example, there’s a mall built purely to service the needs of those waiting in line.
Before heading into the galleries themselves, I accidentally bumped into my companions from the previous day. We thought this was quite odd, due to the sheer size of the Louvre, the number of things to do and see in Paris, and the fact that neither of mentioned that we would be going there. Amazing.
I decided to go up to the extremely quiet section of 19th and 20th century French painters, because the crowds were overwhelming, and I’m not much of a fan of the heavily religious Renaissance work that dominates much of the museum. With beautiful paintings by artists such as Monet and Renoir, it was definitely a good place to start.
After spending five minutes carefully examining each painting, however, I realised my time was running out. After that, I speedily zoomed though the top-floor exhibits (something that have never done before), saw the crowded and slightly disappointing Mona Lisa, zipped across to the amazing Winged Victory of Samothrace, scarfed down lunch and knocked up a quick plan.
Heather’s formula for a successful Louvre visit:
1. Start off in the Islamic art exhibit. Get absolutely lost in the incredible collections and accidentally spend an hour. Almost fall asleep because you haven’t slept properly since you first arrived in Paris.
I adore this style of art. It’s just so intricate.
2. Get confused on the way to the Greek sculpture hall and see the Roman one instead. Enjoy it anyway, especially when you see an American couple hilariously posing like the statues. Dash across to the Greeke exhibits and marvel at the beautiful sculptures over there. Be fairly unimpressed with the most famous statue in the exhibit: the Venus de Milo.
Sure, she’s lovely, but I felt there were other, more incredible works there. I mean, she doesn’t even have any arms! (I made that joke just for you, dad.)
3. Speed walk through the Egyptian section, stopping only for the sarcophagi and surprisingly small Seated Scribe. Be sad when you think of how much you’ve missed, but then be happy again when you realise that if you come back in thirty years’ time, you can have a completely new adventure. Stride through to the Winged Bulls of Khorsabad with your head held high.
They were just so huge and old and…huge.
4. Finish up at Napoleon III’s magnificent apartments. Seriously, this place has everything.
The chandelier was bigger than me. My goodness.
(I didn’t mention accidentally wandering into a strange underground medieval castle, or strolling past a Sphinx, but that’s because it is a formula for a successful adventure.)
I was sad yet satisfied when I left the Louvre at 4pm, and ready to go the Notre-Dame, as I had planned the day before. In a very un-Heather-like state, I had a lovely, relaxing wander to the cathedral, and made it in with plenty of time before the gates closed. I thought about going up to the roof, but changed my mind – I may do it when I go back, though.
The Notre-Dame, admittedly, was a bit of a disappointment for me. Like the Musée d’Orsay, it had been a dream of mine to visit the gothic splendour of the church, but the touristy vibe ruined it. It might have been something special, but I couldn’t see it under the layers of merchandise and swarms of selfie-takers. The Basilique de Sacré- Cœur was definitely more amazing to me.
It didn’t take too long to walk around the cathedral, so I had time to go to Saint-Chapelle, as recommended by my lovely great-aunt. At first, I was a little unsure about going due to the entry fee, but I took the risk. It was well worth it.
I spent my last thirty minutes in Paris surrounded by colour and light, watching the milky rays of sunshine filter through the windows and scatter watercolour shades across my hands. I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.
Featured photo is of the cool Sphinx I passed.